Sunday, 7 August 2016

Martians And Morpheus

As CS Lewis points out in Perelandra, we imagine two distinct categories of non-human intelligences:

"scientific," e.g., Martians;
"supernatural," e.g., ghosts.

We are shocked when Lewis, who, in this text, is not only author but also narrator, informs us that, on Mars, his friend Ransom had met beings that were both extraterrestrial and supernatural - like Martian ghosts!

Poul Anderson presents:

 several races of Martians, who are kept well within the watertight compartment of hard sf;

supernatural beings in several works of fantasy.

In particular, The Broken Sword incorporates not only every national pantheon but also every species of folkloric sprite. Lewis rightly says that ETs and spirits are usually kept apart. Usually but not always - check out Heinlein's and Bradbury's Old Ones of Mars and Aldiss' Helliconian hereafter. See here.

Anderson approaches a rapprochement between fantasy and sf in his inter-universal inn, the Old Phoenix. Nicholas van Rijn does business with a Martian in "Margin of Profit" and also rubs shoulders with characters from works of fantasy in the Old Phoenix in "House Rule."

Superheroes fiction, a composite genre, unites fantasy and sf on an equal footing. Morpheus (definitely supernatural) meets the last Martian (definitely scientific) who sees Morpheus in a non-human form and addresses him thus:

"Lord L'Zoril, I greet you humbly: may you guard us in the darkness and on the pathway between waking hours, and protect us in dreams from the flame of your wrath."
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Preludes And Nocturnes (New York, 1995), p. 146.

This race of Martians, not created by Gaiman but hailing, of course, from a dry planet, reacts to fire much as Krptonians react to Kryptonite.

I feel privileged to be able to navigate between these many worlds of the imagination.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Now, that's interesting, extraterrestrial non human GHOSTS!

    I think it's right to point out that the "Martian" see in Anderson's "Margin of Profit," came of a race which had not evolved there. Rather, this being's species came from the world of another star and was allowed to settle on Mars.