Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Alternative Scenarios

SM Stirling, The Sword of The Lady (New York, 2009), Chapter Nine, pp. 243-244.

Mathilda, Rudi and Father Ignatius fight soldiers of the Church Universal and Triumphant. Rudi invokes the Morrigu and the shadow of a great scythe seems to move with his sword. Ignatius invokes four angels and behind him are vast wings, wheels or eyes, a blue-mantled figure touching his forehead and sword and a shining radiance. Mathilda also sees something inside the Cutter...

I know of at least three scenarios that can encompass all of these phenomena:

a Christian world view in which the gods exist but as demons;
a pagan world view in which the Biblical figures are one of many coexistent pantheons;
an sf scenario where high tech beings are able to masquerade as mythological figures, as happens near the end of Poul Anderson's The Avatar (see here).

A variation on the pagan world view is Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, where the gods are dreamed, then exist outside the Dreaming for as long as they are believed in and worshipped. See here. I confidently expect SM Stirling to have devised an ingenious explanation that may or may not connect with any of these scenarios.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I'm not entirely sure what you meant in your first paragraph when you wrote "toughing his forehead." I think you meant TOUCHING?

    And the scenario ** I ** believe is that the pagan gods don't exist.


    1. Sean,
      Touching, of course. We know what you believe! But any of the 3 listed scenarios can be a premise for fiction - with variations, of course. I forgot to mention CS Lewis' variation, that the gods exist not as demons but as subordinates of Maleldil/Aslan. I expect SM Stirling to present an interesting explanation for his multi-theistic narrative.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Again, I should have thought of that, what you said about CS Lewis. Except, however, some of the pagan gods were so grim that I can't imagine them to have been servants of Maleldil/Aslan. Moloch, for example, or the grisly Aztec gods.


    3. Sean,
      Indeed. An attempt is made (in THE LAST BATTLE) to synthesize Aslan and the Calormene god, Tash, as "Tashlan," but, to Aslan, Tash is a demon.