Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Legend And Myth

"...watching fact grow into legend and legend become myth in a few short years had been eerie..."
-SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2016), Chapter Seven, p. 184 -

- a process shown in a film where Sean Connery plays Robin Hood and in another where Liam Neeson plays Rob Roy.

In Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, Nicholas van Rijn becomes a legend in his own lifetime although legends take longer to spread over interstellar distances. Van Rijn's protege, David Falkayn, is warned:

"'Maybe you imagine being famous will protect you. Well, forget that. You're a long ways off into a territory that doesn't care a good goddam about your reputation.'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 99.

Centuries later, Hloch writes in The Earth Book Of Stormgate:

"[Falkayn's] biographies tell how he became a protege of Nicholas van Rijn, but say little about that merchant lord. You may well be surprised to learn that on numerous other worlds, it is the latter who lives in folk memory, whether as hero or rogue."
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 136.

More centuries later, Dominic Flandry tells a tale of van Rijn. But I have argued before that Falkayn's achievements are greater than those of either van Rijn or Flandry.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

What the person speaking to Falkayn forgot was how or why he had become famous in the first place. That is, boldness, a willingness to take risks, quick wits, etc., enabled him to overcome adversaries and solve problems.

Falkayn may have achieved "more" than Old Nick. But I would put that down largely to van Rijn never feeling a need or desire to found a colony, as Falkayn did on Avalon.

I would not minimize too much the achievements of Dominic Flandry. Things like the Starkad affair, scotching the revolt of McCormac, thwarting the planned Scothan invasion of the Empire, etc., etc., all leading to extending the lifespan of the Empire by centuries, seem very CONSEQUENTIAL to me.

However interesting, intriguing, valuable, etc, the double colony of humans and Ythrians on Avalon was, it was still only one planet out of thousands settled by humans and other races. Aside from the crucial fact a Ythrian agent serving both the Domain and the Empire helped thwart a dangerous Merseian plot on Aeneas, I seriously doubt it directly affected that many people outside the Domain. Also, the Empire itself had planets settled by persons of more than one intelligent race: Imhotep, Daedalus, and Dennitza.

Actually, Dominic Flandry did not narrate a tale about Nicholas van Rijn on Unan Besar. This is what I read in Chapter VI of THE PLAGUE OF MASTERS: "...for he spoke not of the Silver Bird or Polesotechnarch van Rijn or any ancient themes known everywhere by heart. He told new stories, most of them indecent and all impudently funny." Flandry was posing as a story teller as part of a plan to pull a Spanish Prisoner swindle on the gang boss Sumu the Fat.