Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hugh Valland

Poul Anderson's Hugh Valland is like:

Robert Heinlein's Jetman Rhysling because he is a singer of the spaceways;

Heinlein's Lazarus Long, Anderson's Hanno and James Blish's John Amalfi because he was been alive for a long time and longer than anyone else.

However, Valland has more going for him even than that. When he is communicating with an alien, Valland's musical instrument, the omnisonor, enables him to form sounds that are impossible for a human throat. Thus, his musical ability can be adapted to another purpose.

Of these and some other fictional "immortals," Valland is the only one who needs to use technology to edit memories in order to prevent memory overload leading to insanity. Thus, after living for nearly three thousand years, he retains only the memories of a normal lifetime.

Valland's fiancee, born in 2018, dies in 2037, just too soon to benefit from the antithanatic. In Amalfi's timeline, the antiagathics begin to be developed in 2018.

I have just watched a Smallville TV episode where Clark Kent, time traveling forward to 2017, is horrified to see that his future self is a straight-looking guy in a business suit wearing large glasses! 

We in the early twenty first century live at a Crossroad of Time.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Actually, my recollection of WORLD WITHOUT STARS is that "immortals" who live about 900 years or so have to go thru the memory editing process to prevent dementia from memory overload. That in turn contributed to popularity of autobiographies as a literary form. Writing one's memoirs was a means of preserving what a person is or was and wanted to be.

I get the strong impression that Hugh's fiancee, Mary O'Meara, died in an accident during a trip they made to the High Sierra. Perhaps from a fall? The antithanatic of WORLD WITHOUT STARS does not prevent death from either violence or accidents.