Monday, 3 April 2017
Climaxes And Escapes
hero outwits and overcomes villain (classic example: James Bond and Donovan Grant in From Russia, With Love; Larry Niven has an ingenious variation in a Gil Hamilton story);
hero is rescued by friend (Lisbeth Salander rescues Mikael Blomkvist in Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).
I mention this here because I do not think this climax occurs in Poul Anderson's works? Anderson does present many situations when, mid-narrative, our hero, held captive, grabs a guard's sword or gun, knocks over the guard and runs. Manse Everard, being arrested, thinks:
"He who hesitates is bossed."
-Poul Anderson, The Shield Of Time (New York, 1991), Part Two, 109 B.C., p. 59 -
- and immediately goes on the offensive.
Many years ago, I was sitting in a work staff room with a copy of Anderson's The Corridors Of Time on the table in front of me. A colleague, whose personality was extremely irritating, walked in, picked up the book, opened it at random, read aloud in a sarcastic tone of voice a passage in which Malcolm Lockridge stages a standard Andersonian escape from armed enemies, put the book back down and walked away, clearly with no thought of the consequences of his action. Then another colleague expressed surprise that I was reading such a text.
Just think about that. Consider the wealth, depth, and ingenuity of The Corridors Of Time, then consider the false impression of the book generated by reading aloud that single passage in isolation. The mind boggles.