Saturday, 13 August 2016

Spirits And The Sense Of Smell

Poul Anderson, Operation Chaos (New York, 1995).

Some species sense more strongly by smell than by sight. Might this also be true of spirits?

"The room stank of demons."
-James Blish, After Such Knowledge (London, 1991), p. 325.

The demons are about to invade the world and their stench precedes them.

Poul Anderson's Steve Matuchek, werewolf, follows the scent of an afreet:

"I cast about. The town smells were confusing, but I caught the faintest sulfurous whiff and trotted cautiously in that direction...The brimstone reek grew stronger." (p. 35)

By following his nose, Matuchek locates the building where the Caliphate invaders of the US keep their afreet. When were-animals interact with supernatural beings, especially with those that are associated with sulfur/brimstone, then the sense of smell must become dominant and maybe fantasy authors should revise their accounts accordingly? - although it would be impossible to adapt an olfactory account to either a visual or an auditory medium.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think Poul Anderson does as well as any writer can in suggesting how different the perceptions of a were has to be from those of a human when he is a were wolf or other type of were animal.


Paul Shackley said...

I agree.