Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Goetic And Other Timelines

I could not possibly have predicted how much more was still to come out of Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos on a third (at least) reading. Anderson invites comparison with the most powerful of texts and the most imaginative of authors. We have ransacked scriptures, epic poetry, graphic fiction, science fiction and fantasy for texts to compare with Anderson's accounts of chaos and Hell. Despite being a James Blish fan before I became an Anderson fan, I have not yet mentioned the modernized vision of Hell that is presented to the last magicians as they are led to their interview with Satan at the end of The Day After Judgment.

In fact, I have yet to reread the rescue of Valeria and the conclusion of the novel. How much are we told about Heaven? I think that I will have to stay with the goetic universe and therefore to reread Operation Luna after completing Operation Chaos. It is necessary to reread a text in order to find out what there is in it to post about. After the goetic universe, there are the other timelines in the Old Phoenix multiverse - then there are other alternative timelines created by an author who has specialized in this sub-genre even more than Anderson did. The blog should outlast the blogger.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I can only admire with awe your seemingly inexhaustible zeal in reading the works of Anderson and other authors and THEN commenting on them. It's so hard to keep up with you!

I recently finished rereading Stirling's ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME. By and large it was a great story: gripping plot, engaging characters (heroic heroes and villainous villains!), careful and colorful descriptions of background, both human and natural, etc.

Now, alas, for a few nits. The lesbian subplot between Marian Alston and Swindapa was tiresome and not really necessary for the story. And I think Stirlling went far beyond what tiny bits we knew about the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Britain to be quite plausible.

Far more importantly, I disagreed with how Stirling had so many sailors and soldiers in ISLAND being women. Putting aside my philosophical objections to women in combat units, it simply wasn't PLAUSIBLE. I've seen articles and comments by military men explaining why: most women are simply not STRONG for the rigors of military life and combat. Most women simply CAN'T, for instance, carry 80 pound packs and march 15 or 20 miles in one day. And that is even more likely if you also have to wear armor as well.

I've seen complaints that the dogmatic insistence on having women in the military has led to the LOWERING of training standards, to enable SOME women to "pass" thru "Boot Camp." And it's not good to have troopers not as thoroughly trained as they should have been!

S.M. Stirling could just BARELY make having women in combat units in his Draka books seem doable. But only because of the brutally rigorous training, study, drilling, practicing, special diets, etc., Draka women had to endure. None of which truly applies to his unconvincing female soldiers in his other books.

But I am looking forward to rereading the second Nantucket book! Stirling wrote so well that most of the time I could control my skepticism about some of what he did in his books.


Sean M. Brooks said...

A few additional comments to my first note above.

Fourth paragraph, third sentence: after the word "STRONG" I forgot to type "enough." The idea I was trying to bring out being that women who were, say, only five feet four inches tall and barely 110 pounds in weight simply could not DO all the training and drilling a really good army gives its soldiers and Navy personnel.

Another point I've seen by critics is that most, if they have any decency, tend to be protective of women, to look out for them. That kind of attitude can be FATALLY distracting in combat where the rule is: mission FIRST. Trying to "watch out" for women soldiers can be deadly dangerous to a soldier whose total focus has to be on his mission or task. He has to be SURE his comrades are also thinking like that.

Also, there is the sexual aspect. Like it or not, men and women in combat units will be attracted to each other (or merely DISTRACTED). Jealousy, competitiveness, using sex for favors, etc., will inevitably occur in units where soldiers are of both sexes.

All this explains why I found Stirling's use of having MANY army and Navy personnel who were women implausible. I do grant a FEW, rare, and unusual exceptions like Marian Alston. But they will never be more than rare.