Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Look back at the previous post here. The works cited comprise:

an alternative universe fantasy novel;
a historical fiction tetralogy with elements of fantasy;
two future history series;
two time travel novels;
a time travel series;
one volume of an alternative history trilogy, albeit by another author and mentioned parenthetically.

One emergent theme was "chaos," beginning in mythology when Chaos was personified as a Goddess and ending in science fiction when "chaos" is an impersonal principle of quantum mechanics. On every level, human beings strive to defend order and life against chaos and eventual death, the Norse Ragnarok, Dominic Flandry's Long Night.

Poul Anderson's fiction is a worthy conceptual sequel to the Sagas, the Eddas and any other literature that addresses this basic struggle. Hamlet asked, "To be or not to be?" We had no choice about coming into being but can give a good account of ourselves now that we are here.

"Chaos" is ambiguous. It can also signify the unpredictability of complete freedom that Anderson champions against the deadening order imposed by bureaucrats and dictators.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Your last paragraph here reminded me of Anderson's HARVEST OF STARS books. Because of how the AI which came to dominate Earth, the Teramind (I'm tempted to call it the TERRAmind!) came to dread mankind being free, precisely because of how unpredictable, "chaotic", humanity is. And strove to keep mankind in a smothering cocoon of luxurious futility and idleness.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
"It's not good to have too much order. Unless you have some chaos, there's no room for new things to grow."
-- Sam Starfall, in webcomic *Freefall* by Mark Stanley, 30 June 2014

Paul Shackley said...

Moorcock has Lords of Law, Chaos and Balance.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

I agree, as long as this "chaos" doesn't mean letting anyone who fancies doing so enter your house to kill, rob, rape, and enslave your family and friends. In other words, we need SOME order.

But, I'm sure you agree with me!