Thursday, 14 July 2016


Poul Anderson, The Merman's Children (London, 1981), Book One, Chapter V, p. 24.

The Liri tribe, their undersea town destroyed by a Christian exorcism, meet on "...the islet Hornfiskron..." Their King Vanimen addresses them from a dune, holding his trident. Vanimen is big and muscular with long golden hair, sea-green eyes, snow-white skin scarred by battles over many centuries and webbed feet sensitive to the gritty sand. He has guested Ran.

Merpeople need water, earth and air although not fire, which is used by men and dwarfs. At the far end of the Gulf of Finland, there are rich fishing grounds but also rivers haunted by rousalka, drowned maidens who sound even worse than Dahut.

Men, merfolk and dolphins have confirmed that there is land west of Greenland outside the dominion of Christendom although:

"'No living member of either race has visited there...'" (p. 28)

It is too far to swim but why not:

"'...seize a ship of theirs and steer for the western lands - the new world!'" (p. 29)?

In the Time Patrol series, we see people from Siberia crossing Beringia and entering "A new world" by land, not by crossing the ocean. Poul Anderson addresses a concept from every angle.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Dang! I was wrong. I THOUGHT I remember Vanimen proposing the mer-people go south, to find a new home off the African coast. Drat!


    1. Sean,
      That might be what they wind up doing. I haven't read far enough yet to find out.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Understood! I might read Anderson/Broxon's THE DEMON OF SCATTERY next. But I'm currently reading THE TIMELESS TALES OF REGINALD BRETNOR.


  2. Paul:
    Two notes regarding "rusalka." First, as is mentioned in the Wikipedia article you linked, C.J. Cherryh wrote a trilogy involving a rusalka. It's good but often confusing -- I'm STILL not entirely sure how the situation at the end of the third book was resolved, despite reading it several times.

    Second, a "rhuzhalkh" made a brief appearance in Rohan's original *Winter* trilogy. Interestingly, it's hinted that she DIDN'T kill the man she lured away from the group. Even more oddly, this happened not in Europe but in what we know as North America.

    So, for whatever it's worth, two takes on the rusalka legend in which she ISN'T bad.