Monday, 6 March 2017

None Better? II

Having compared JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth History with Poul Anderson's Technic History and Time Patrol series here, we should also mention Poul and Karen Anderson's The King Of Ys.

First, The Lord Of The Rings and The King Of Ys have in common that each is a single long narrative usually published in more than one volume only for reasons of length. Thus, they are not really a trilogy and a tetralogy, respectively.

Secondly, both involve fantasy although to different extents. In Ys, the Gods remain off-stage although their effects are palpable.

Thirdly, each is an "end of an era" narrative: the Elves withdraw from Middle Earth; the Gods withdraw from Ys. In fact, many periods begin and end in Ys:

Christianity grows;
Mithras, the Olympians and the Ysan Three withdraw from the world of men;
transAtlantic colonization is contemplated though not yet implemented;
the Roman Empire withdraws from Britannia and Gaul;
the fabulous city of Ys is destroyed;
the modern city of Quimper is built;
feudalism begins.

The Lord Of The Rings leads to the Fourth Age of Middle Earth, the Age of Men, whereas The King Of Ys leads to the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages and the modern age - as if everything leads to us. However, Poul Anderson also looks into the future where some timelines culminate in post-human intelligences indistinguishable from gods.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    It is difficult to satisfactorily define THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It is fantasy but also a history with a massively defined and detailed past. THE KING OF YS seems somewhat similar: being a massively detailed historical fiction with flashes of fantasy.

    Yes, most of the remaining High Elves and many Sindarin Elves withdrew from Middle Earth at the end of LOTR. I would have added that LOTR was also about the end of Sauron as an incarnate person physically present in Middle Earth.

    Yes, THE KING OF YS is also about fading belief in both pagan gods and mystery religions like Mithraism.

    And the thing to remember about Poul Anderson's speculations about AIs and inorganic intelligences as we see them in his phase works is how skeptical he was of them! That is, Anderson shows us how flawed and questionable they can be in both the HARVEST OF STARS books and GENESIS. I think he makes it plain he PREFERS organic intelligences.

    Sean

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