Sunday, 4 September 2016

Darkness And Deceit

I was unimpressed by Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court partly for reasons mentioned here. However, A Connecticut Yankee... is clearly a precursor of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series although Anderson does not refer to it as such. He does explicitly refer to Yankee... in Three Hearts And Three Lions, Chapter Twenty, when Holger frightens savages by breathing smoke.

Why should this frighten them? They are fierce warriors, used to wizardry. However, Hugi opines that:

"'...o' late they've seen so much a' 't, and so nasty, that their nerves are close to breaking.'" (p. 131)

Can a place be evil? Not literally, but it can retain an aura of evil deeds committed there - the sites of the Holocaust.

Poul Anderson imagines two extreme examples:

a ruined and abandoned church, its altar defiled by a human sacrifice;

thirteen men around a balefire before a great stone altar with a broken life-size crucifix and a slaughtered baby, creatures waiting in the darkness and a blackness taller than a man forming above the altar...

When a hero conceals his identity even from a potential ally, he generates doubt and distrust:

Holger with the Saracen;
Clark Kent with Lex Luthor.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree! Places where human sacrifices were perpetrated or where the Nazis committed their atrocities would be REDOLENT of sheer evil. And the sites where unborn infants were nassacred by "legalized" abortion would also be regarded by me with horror and disgust.