Friday, 23 September 2016

"A Tired Consciousness Of Knowledge"

How many of Poul Anderson's heroes fall silent and grow tense as they suddenly realize the solution to a problem? (See here.) I don't know but here is one that doesn't:

"The answer had come to him not as a blinding revelation but as a tired consciousness of knowledge which he might well have had subconsciously for a long time."
-Poul Anderson, "Brave To Be A King" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 55-112 AT 8, p. 103.

Manse Everard has realized what he must do to rescue Keith Dennison from being Cyrus the Great: change the past slightly - or change it back to the way it was meant to be in the first place? Dennison has been dragooned into the role of Cyrus only because the man who was born to be Cyrus had been murdered in infancy. But should that have happened?

While Everard reflects on this, some Persians:

"...lifted their dead chief and their dying companion and bore them into the forest." (ibid.)

The chapter could have ended there. The lifting and bearing away are the last human actions in this passage. However, in Anderson's texts, nature often has the last word, seeming to comment on the human actions. In this case:

"Darkness thickened. Somewhere an owl hooted." (ibid.)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And I was very interested in the regret, even remorse felt by Harpagus in the role he played in the murder of the infant Prince Cyrus. Everard's changing of history back to its proper shape or form spared Harpagus a heavy burden of guilt and regret.