Thursday, 6 October 2016

Mysterious Transportation

A standard fsf premise is mysterious transportation of characters to another time, place, planet, world etc. I need hardly list examples - but let us contrast Poul Anderson's The Dancer From Atlantis with SM Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy while appreciating a cover illustration for James Blish's Midsummer Century.

Similarities
Mysterious transportation to a remote past.
The travelers meet the originals of legendary figures.
Anderson: Atlantis; Stirling: Troy.

Dissimilarities
Stirling transports an island and its population, not just a few individuals.
Stirling's characters initiate a divergent timeline; Anderson's don't.
Anderson explains the mysterious transportation whereas Stirling doesn't (I don't think).

It is intriguing when characters speculate about what has until now been an unexplained premise. ERB's John Carter once wonders whether he is the materialization of a long dead warrior. One of Stirling's Nantucketers wonders whether the Island and its inhabitants were duplicated in the past while the originals remained in the twentieth century! Genius! This is why we read sf.

13 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Commenting on your last sentence: I agree that ideas like the Nantucketer wondering if he and his fellow townsmen had been duplicated into the past while the originals remained in the future is why we read SF. Strange and unusual ideas, premises, etc., presented in well written ways.

    But, I don't remember coming across this idea in the first two Nantucket books. So, it's probably in THE OCEANS OF ETERNITY, which I have yet to reread. I still have about 33 pages of Stirling's PRINCE OF OUTCASTS to read.

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      It is indeed in Vol III.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I thought so! (Smiles)

      Sean

      PS: Here's my attempt at a quiz question. Which ONE of three characters appears in A STONE IN HEAVEN but not in THE GAME OF EMPIRE?

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      I am struggling with that one.
      Paul.

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    4. Sean,
      Not quite sure what you mean. However: 3 characters would be Flandry, Miriam and Max. Max appears in a flashback in STONE but not in GAME.
      Paul.

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    5. Kaor, Sean!

      IIRC, an aged Chives appears in STONE, but not in GAME; I presume that old age has ended his life.

      Best Regards,
      Nicholas

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    6. Kaor, Paul and Nicholas!

      Paul: I had to go to work before I could respond. Apologies for the delay. I don't recall any FLASHBACKS regarding Captain Abrams in A STONE IN HEAVEN--but he was mentioned very favorably by both Dominic Flandry and Miriam Abrams. But see my comments below to Nicholas!

      Nicholas: Exactly! You solved my little riddle! It was an elderly Chives who appeared in A STONE IN HEAVEN but not in THE GAME OF EMPIRE. Yes, sometime between the events in STONE and GAME Chives most likely died of old age.

      I have regretted how no mention was made of Chives in GAME--and wondered what exactly happened to him.

      Sean

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    7. Sean,
      Nicholas' answer is obviously right.
      Miriam does reminisce about Max and remembers what he said/would have said.
      Paul.

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    8. Kaor, Paul

      I hope more combox readers suggest similar riddles! It would help liven up things here.

      Yes, but reminiscences by Miriam Abrams does not seem like "flashbacks" to me. Much less a "cameo."

      Sean

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    9. Sean,
      If you read it, you might see what I mean. Miriam either imagines or possibly remembers a conversation.
      Paul.

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    10. Kaor, Paul!

      Most of what we see about Max Abrams in A STONE IN HEAVEN was in Chapter VI of that book. We do see Miriam remembering some of the things her father said. Here's a bit from her reminiscences: "Dominic--Admiral, I'm not completely ignorant. I know about corruption and abuse of power, not to mention civil wars or plain stupidity. My father used to do some wonderful cursing, when a piece of particularly nauseous news came in. But he'd always tell me not to expect perfection of mortal beings; out duty was to keep on trying."

      Yes, Miriam was recalling what her father said, but as REMINISCENCES, not cameos or flashbacks. And the blundering, corruption, and abuses which had Max Abrams swearing so hard reminded me all too much of the analogous abuses, incompetence, and corruption we are seeing under our very own Josip III, Barack Obama.

      Sean

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    11. Sean,
      The passage that I had in mind is in Chapter XII, on pp. 161-162 of FLANDRY'S LEGACY. If A STONE IN HEAVEN were adapted to screen or comic strip, this could be a scene in which Max would appear, smoking and speaking to Miriam.
      Paul.

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    12. Kaor, Paul!

      I have a copy of FLANDRY'S LEGACY, collecting A STONE IN HEAVEN (along with other stories). But it's the trade edition paper back, so the text from Chapter XII you have in mind is on page 114.

      Anyway, I finally found the passage you had in mind from Chapter XII, where Miriam remembers her father sitting in his favorite armchair and telling her: "Miri, a lot of qualities are known as virtues, but most of them don't do more than please or convenience folks. Real virtues wear different faces, of course, but it doesn't come in different kinds. One way or another, what it always amounts to is loyalty."

      I see what you mean about thinking this a flashback by Miriam. But it's not truly presented as such. here we see Miriam simply remembering, very vividly, her father. And the point of this text was Miriam deciding she had to trust Flandry's judgment about Edwin Cairncross.

      And I like the idea of adapting A STONE IN HEAVEN as either cinema or a comic book. In fact, my copies of STONE by Ace Books, both pocket paperback and trade, are so profusely illustrated it would give comic book artists some hints on how to do the job.

      Sean

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