Tuesday, 11 July 2017


Is an Ythrian an alien? Not if you are an Ythrian:

"This is the tale, told afresh, of how Avalon came to settlement and thus our choth to being. This is the tale as told, not by Rennhi and those on whom she drew for the Sky Book, but by Terrans, who walk the earth. Hloch will seek to explain what is alien..."
-Poul Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), p. 2.

So, as soon as Terrans are mentioned, the word "alien" is used. Poul Anderson (human) imagines Hloch (Ythrian) explaining Terrans (human) to fellow Avalonians of his own species. Thus, Anderson is able to present a different (alien) perspective on ourselves:

"To explain the concept "nation" is stiffly upwind. As a snatching at the task - Within a sharply defined territory dwell a large number of humans who, in a subtle sense which goes beyond private property or shared range, identify their souls with this land and with each other. Law and mutual obligation are maintained less by usage and pride than by physical violence or the threat thereof on the part of that institution called the government. It is as if a single group could permanently cry Oherran against the entire rest of society, bring death and destruction wherever it chose, and claimed this as an exclusive right." (pp. 23-24)

Further, each of these entities called "nations" has powers limited not by justice, decency or prudence "...but only by its own strength." (p. 24)

Yes, "nation" is an alien concept, isn't it?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well, of COURSE human beings would be aliens to non humans like Ythrians or the "Superior" species we don't quite see in "Night Piece." That should go without saying!

In fact, the Superior of "Night Piece" is so strange and different from mankind that it's possible individuals of either species would find it very hard to even NOTICE the other race.

Whether it's good or not, I don't find the concepts of the "nation" or the "state" alien. They are derived from human nature and history.