Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Thunder, Lightning And Rain

Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York), Chapter 21.

The chapter opens with rain and ends with thunder and lightning. Between:

"Outside, the rain had gone heavy, filling the windows with murk. We heard it hammer on walls and roofs. Wind piped. Inside, lights dimmed to embers and dusk laid hold of us."  (p. 190)

The Matucheks and Frogmorton deal with dark matters that are reflected in murk, dimness and dusk. The wind is a frequent participant in Anderson's texts. Here it pipes. I am trying to locate a passage earlier in the novel where it had "fingers."

When the three have worked hard to cast a spell:

"We sat for a while in companionable silence. The weather wildened." (p. 192)

Here the wild weather contradicts the companionable silence but reminds us of storms ahead for the characters.

"The wind skirled.
"'Go on please,' Ginny begged.
"He looked past us into the darknesses that, despite the lamps, laired in the corners under the ceiling." (p. 193)

Frogmorton offers help but has just said that he can make no promises. Consequently, he peers into a darkness that is not merely physical. He does not know what will happen. The lamps symbolize his scholarly and arcane knowledge, always surrounded by the unknown. At the end of the chapter, thunder and lightning appropriately accompany his description of a magic, dwarf-forged, Viking sword.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And Tobias Frogmorton might be analogous to Merlin! And the magic, dwarf forged sword he recommended to the Matucheks reminded me of the Arthurian Sword in the Stone. Or the swords of Roland and Holger Carlsen.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
Related to the recurring topic of Anderson's work engaging multiple senses, I'm currently reading a Low Fantasy (virtually no magic, but in a Europe with some of the history and nations changed) published in 1928, and one of the passages struck me as an example of that quality of description:
"Joris and his party sat near the shelters on a grassy ledge above the darkling stream; across the water rose a short steep of heather, crowned by a group of firs that cut black ragged shapes out of the fading rose and yellow of a wide clear afterglow. Only the zenith was blue enough show a first few stars; eastward was high still cloud, and the gold blur of the mounting moon. The air, although not yet chill, was sad with autumn; the heavy scent of heather warred with the fragrance of burning pine logs and the odours of roasted grouse and venison. A faint breeze stirred above the camp, for the smoke of the two fires rose straightly for a space and then was slanted away toward the east; and owls called to each other amid the nearer woods."

Paul Shackley said...

I would have guessed that it was written by Anderson.

David Birr said...

I was particularly interested in the line about the air being "sad with autumn," which seemed to me a good case of pathetic fallacy as Anderson used it. The author's name was Leslie Barringer; this book, *Joris of the Rock*, was second in a trilogy, the "Neustria Cycle."

Anderson may have read this; I know Andre Norton and L. Sprague de Camp did.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

A very Andersonian seeming quote, I agree! And, who knows, PA may have read Leslie Barringer.