Thursday, 1 June 2017

Hanno, Lazarus Long And John Carter

Copied from the Science Fiction blog:

Poul Anderson's Hanno is the oldest mutant immortal.

Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long, the Senior, or oldest member of the human race, is a third generation Howard, bred for longevity, but also, coincidentally and inexplicably, a mutant who lives much longer than any other member of the Howard Families.

Edgar Rice Burrough's (ERB's) John Carter claims to remember only an extended adulthood without any childhood and to know nothing of his own origin even though he has a great-grand-nephew and must surely therefore also know his brother or sister and their parents? (ERB wrote glaring inconsistencies.) Carter died on Earth but was astrally projected to Mars where he still lives in a tangible undying body and speculated just once that maybe he is the materialization of a long dead warrior. Mysteries beyond mysteries. (SM Stirling, in his Martian novel, alludes to the cave near which Carter was astrally projected.)

Might Hanno and Long become like what Carter claims to be? Let me explain. Most people have lived for less than 100 years. Whatever age you have now reached, how much do you remember of your first two years? If you were to live for 1000 years, how much would you remember of your first 20 years? If you were to live for 1,000,000 years, how much would you remember of of your first 20,000 years? And so on. Hanno and his fellow immortals agree to meet again in another million years and expect to continue living after that.

Could there be an sf series as outlined below?

Vol I, set in One Billion AD: a man who seems to have lived forever remembers only the last ten millennia.

Vol II, set in Two Billion AD: a man who seems to have lived forever is by now known by a different name, has learned so much from experience that he has completely changed his personality and remembers only the last ten millennia.

Vol III, set in Three Billion AD...

15 comments:

  1. Paul:
    I believe the "great-grandnephew" was of the "honorary" sort — that is, one of his ancestors was accustomed in childhood to refer to Carter as "Uncle John" despite not actually being a blood relative. Either that or Carter became an uncle only by marrying an aunt, not through the offspring of any siblings of his own.

    I saw a comic-book adaptation of *A Princess of Mars* in which Carter's line about not remembering how old he is accompanied a picture of several warriors in chain mail, possibly during the Crusades.

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    1. Kaor, DAVID and Paul!

      And it amuses me to address people with such a Barsoomian greeting. Only an SF geek like me would do that!

      But, I have to disagree with you saying that John Carter, Warlord of Mars, was not related to Edgar Rice Burroughs, or was related to him only by marriage. In the Prologue to THE CHESSMEN OF MARS, I found this comment by Carter to ERB: "You, yourself, have aged, though not as much as most men in a corresponding number or years, which may be accounted for by the fact that the same blood runs in our veins;..." So, the Warlord does consider ERB blood kin of his.

      Paul, yes, I have to say that, fond as I am of ERB's Barsoom novels, he did write in glaring inconsistencies and implausible absurdities. Only his excellence and skill as a writer enabled the author to get away with bloopers that would otherwise have rapidly relegated his stories to forgotten obscurity.

      Sean

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    2. Sean:
      Ah. I'd forgotten about that line from the *Chessmen* prologue. It certainly does invalidate my suggestion.

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  2. ERB was just getting started with the early Mars and Tarzan novels; the up side of this is their headlong narrative drive and imagination, the downside that he just wasn't as technically skilled as he was later.

    (Virtually nothing happens in the first 40% of "A Princess of Mars", for example.)

    OTOH, he also used "Burroughs" as a framing device -- the "editor" is not the actual ERB, and wasn't intended to be; he's a fictional character, part of the Burroughs imaginarium. If you look closely, all of Burroughs' series are related and have some element of crossover. By the 1920's, they exist in what's more or less an alternate history, though that term wasn't much used then.

    I brought this out in my tribute story in the Barsoom anthology, btw.

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    1. A tribute story in a Barsoom anthology? This I have got to see.

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    2. UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS, 1912, Simon and Schuster. My story's "The Jasoom Project".

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    3. That's "2012" -- my bad, I'm preoccupied these days with my alternate history series set a century ago.

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    4. An instant response: thank you! It is getting late here and I am just about to turn in after quite a long day but "We still live!"

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    5. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Well, I did not actually think ERB was kin to a REAL John Carter, Warlord of Mars! (Smiles) Yes, ERB was using a "framewordk," including the bit about being related to Carter, simply for story purposes.

      And I wonder what "alternate history" you are working on, at least a part of which is set in 1912.

      UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS now joins the books listed in the back of my mind to get sometime!

      Sean

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    6. Great Ghu, you asked me about a book I'm working on... 8-).

      There's a joke: How many writers does it take to change a light-bulb? Answer: Forget about that! Let me tell you about MY light-bulb!

      It's a trilogy (so far) I'm calling "Tales from the Black Chamber". The basic premise is that President Taft has a heart-attack in 1912, just after the Ohio primary, which he lost. It was his home state, and he was grossly obese, so it's not stretching things much. Teddy Roosevelt wins the nomination, the Progressives take over the Republican Party, and he wins the election. Many changes ensue! Teddy's not the protagonist, but features in the Prologue and as a minor character towards the end of the first book. Which will be titled BLACK CHAMBER and will be out in June of 2018. It's already written and I'm nearly finished the second one (IN THE ARENA); they're going to be put out at 6-month intervals, which is a new publishing fashion.

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    7. You read it first here, folks!

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    8. Dear Mr. Stirling and Paul!

      And I will be looking forward to your BLACK CHAMBER books. The title makes me wonder if "black chamber" refers to an intelligence or counter intelligence organization.

      What you said about the alternative 1912-13 US politics makes me think you are basically reversing what actually happened in OUR timeline, in which it was the Democrat Party which the so called "Progressives" took over.

      Yes, in our timeline, President Taft was grossly obese when he took office as Chief Executive. But, he had the sense to listen to his doctors and begin losing a good deal of excess weight. Which prolonged his life for many more years.

      Paul, I am glad to know a bit about Mr. Stirling's current project! (Smiles)

      Sean

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  3. John Carter is ageless, but he's certainly interested in women and since he sires children on Mars(*), there's no reason he shouldn't have done so on Earth. He's associated with Virginia -- there's a prominent Carter family among the FFV's, by the way -- and fought for the Confederacy.

    He probably leaves and comes back as his own son or grandson occasionally to cover up the fact that he doesn't age.

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  4. (*) interbreeding with an egg-laying species was a bit much, but SF standards were different then. Also people knew a lot less about biology.

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    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Interesting, this speculation that the Warlord married and had children sometime in his past. That would also fit in with ERB actual kin to him.

      And Poul Anderson had the Japanese Lady in Waiting we see in THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS sometimes pretending to be kin to her "deceased" self. So she could continue to live at court without arousing suspicion.

      Yes, commentators have been somewhat merry at the sight of John Carter marrying an oviparous woman (if that can be the right word!) and then he and Dejah Thoris standing proudly over the brooder holding the egg containing their son.,

      Sean

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