Sunday, 14 May 2017

Beginnings

I already know what will happen in Elliot Maggin's Miracle Monday: Kristin Wells, time traveller, investigating the origin of the Miracle Monday celebration, will find that she is part of its origin. The only question is how well Maggin writes this - but he approaches it with a wealth of imaginative detail on every page.

Poul Anderson's Carl Farness, investigating the origin of a story about Odin betraying his followers, finds that he himself has to betray them. Anderson's Janne Floris, investigating what inspired Veleda's pagan prophecies, finds that she did. Michael Moorcock's Karl Glogauer, investigating the crucifixion, is crucified. Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long (I think) realized while proposing a toast in the twentieth century that he was initiating what would become an annual tradition among the Howard Families.

This is the time travel observer effect. It is usually, although not necessarily, also the circular causality paradox. Without Glogauer, Christianity would have existed but with even less historical truth. But, without Farness, that part of Northern mythology would not have existed. When Everard has deduced Carl's role, Carl has to do it. Hence, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth."

8 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I've tried to read some of Michael Moorcock's works, esp. his Elric of Melnibone stories, but gave up. I found his Elric stories too bleak and dreary for my taste. I'm reminded as well of how I had similar reasons for giving up on Mervyn Peake's TITUS GROAN books, which Moorcock had praised.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
De gustibus non est disputandum.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ha! We see one of the Draka quoting that Latin proverb in Stirling's UNDER THE YOKE.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

I think experiences like Karl/Wodan's are implicit in the very first Time Patrol story, where it's stated that the Danelians don't want to forbid time travel, because it's "part of the fabric that led to their existence". The Time Patrol universe has a lot of spaghetti-like world lines!

Tho' it's a little odd someone as familiar with Germanic myth didn't anticipate what a lone traveler with that appearance and strange powers would suggest.

There are other nuances in that story: for example, Karl/Wodan's sustained interest in poets and poetry may be the source of the historical Odin's role as the inspirational figure who brings the "mead of poetry" to men.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Carl's interest in poetry might have generated the association of Odin with poetry? Brilliant. I would be interested to hear of some other nuances.
Paul.

S.M. Stirling said...

Once Karl is accepted as a literal God, virtually anything he says is likely to get incorporated into the mythos -- and since he's continually seeking out and engaging with poets (who would also be curious about him) he's around the people ideally placed to -spread- those concepts.

We know from other evidence -- the presence of Ermannaric in the sagas, or the presence of two versions of the Niebelungen story in later Germanic poetry -- that poetic compositions and stories travelled throughout the Germanic-speaking sphere in the late Imperial and Volkerwanderung periods.

Since this was probably the period in which Wodan/Odin became the head of the Germanic pantheon (displacing Tyr, whose name indicates he goes right back to Proto-Indo-European "Sky Father") any number of later characteristics of Odin might have been suggested by Karl.

For example, he reinforces the idea of Wodan as "gangerli", the Walker, the Traveler. He knows endless details about past eras and distant lands, and tells stories about them. He fathers a line of prominent nobles. He reinforces the physical image of Wodan -- very tall, gray-haired but youthful in strength, etc.

It's partly a case of his fitting a pre-existing image, and partly a matter of him affecting the image.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Anderson teaches us a lot of history BUT this is an example of how, if we already know some of the history, we can get a hell of a lot more out of his texts.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Gentlement,

Mr. Stirling, very interesting, what you said about Carl Farness and how he, unwittingly, came to play the role of Wotan/Odin. I recall the tales Carl told when he first lived among the Goths, esp. the stories about Rome the great and troubled, of Diocletian and his stern laws.

Paul, I agree! Close attention to Anderson's texts is almost always rewarding.

Sean