Friday, 10 March 2017

Starkad II

Just a few more points about Starkad.

Maybe the immortal Starkad in The Boat Of A Million Years is the original of the Starkad of the sagas? The latter was said to have had an extended lifespan granted by Odin.

In SM Stirling's The Protector's War, the bandit Crusher Bailey calls himself Carl Grettir. "Grettir," as in Starkad Grettir, means "Crusher." Mike Havel comments that Bailey is "'...a bandit with some education...'" (p. 284) Well, his creator has more than a little education - and had also read Poul Anderson!

I mentioned five bodies of work linked by the single name, "Starkad." Rearranging these works into a more logical and chronological order gives us:

the sagas;
Anderson's retelling of a saga;
Anderson's historical fiction;
Stirling's alternative history fiction;
Anderson's future history.

That impressive list moves from an ancient past to a remote future with a detour into an alternative timeline created by a second author. Saxo recorded legends about figures like Starkad and both their names are applied to celestial bodies in the future. Anderson's learning linked his heroic fantasies to his hard sf.

1 comment:

David Birr said...

It didn't properly register at first, but I can add another "Starkad Grettir." David Drake's first novel, *The Dragon Lord* (1979), was based on Robert E. Howard's characters Cormac mac Art and Wulfhere the Skullsplitter. Drake changed the names: Cormac became Mael mac Ronan, and his friend Wulfhere became [drumroll] Starkad Thurid's son, nicknamed Grettir (which Drake translated as "Cruncher" rather than "Crusher").

What's more, in the course of the story, Mael becomes romantically involved with a woman whose name you'll also recognize: Veleda. Mael doesn't know the legend, because that was centuries ago (the main thrust of *The Dragon Lord* is King Arthur wanting a terror weapon to put fear into the Saxon invaders), but Starkad asks her, "How old are you, Veleda?"