Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A Montivallan-Korean Sea Battle In The Pacific

(The Fighting Temeraire by Turner.)

SM Stirling's Prince Of Outcasts (New York, 2017), Chapter Five, describes a sea battle and ends with a prayer offered by a Montivallan Prince after the sinking of the Korean ship:

"'Holy Mary, Mother of God, Lady pierced with sorrows.... All of them were born of woman. Intercede for them, for us, for all of us, foeman and comrade. Now and at the hour of our deaths - Madonna, intercede!'" (p. 98)

This echoes the prayer of a Space Admiral before a battle in Poul Anderson's Technic History:

"'Father, have mercy on all who die. All.'"
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT p. 515.

The Admiral directly addresses the First Person of the Trinity whereas the Prince instead requests intercession by the Mother of the Incarnation of the Second Person. Complicated. Personally, I address "whatever gods may be" - and also an unspecified "Lord," following the immemorial tradition of my ancestors. We engage in dialogue with being Which teaches us through experience. It is not a single person (I don't think) - although it sometimes feels as if It is. Because we are persons used to conversing with other persons, we project conversation onto other interactions. Grateful for everything good, I thank a hypothetical giver.

How are we doing for sea and space battles? See Another Battle At Sea and various linked posts.


David Birr said...

The Montivalan's prayer is almost certainly based on the fifth stanza of Kipling's poem "Hymn Before Action" (dated 1896):
Ah, Mary pierced with sorrow,
Remember, reach and save
The soul that comes to-morrow
Before the God that gave!
Since each was born of woman,
For each at utter need—
True comrade and true foeman—
Madonna, intercede!

This poem is a favorite of mine. Especially the THIRD stanza, suited for a realm encompassing many beliefs:
For those who kneel beside us
At altars not Thine own,
Who lack the lights that guide us,
Lord, let their faith atone!
If wrong we did to call them,
By honour bound they came;
Let not Thy Wrath befall them,
But deal to us the blame.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, DAVID!

VERY nice, this poem by Kipling! I had been recently reading more of Kipling's verses and came across this one. Yes, I would not be surprised if Stirling took some of it to reuse in PRINCE OF OUTCASTS.

The view of the Catholic Church is that God would judge with mercy those in honest error or ignorance. So I agree with Kipling's third stanza.

Now I'm wondering if any of the characters in Stirling's Emberverse books reads Kipling. Prince John, given his interest in poetry and literature, very well might.

I rather hope I come across a quote from one of Poul Anderson's HARD science fiction stories in the next Emberverse book: THE SEA PEOPLES. I would want some characters to remember what they had LOST because of the Change, both the actual technology of 1998 and what might have been gained later, such as an expansion out into space and other worlds. I had wondered what people in the Changed world might think of, say, ENSIGN FLANDRY or A CIRCUS OF HELLS. Or, for that matter, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE. Or any number of other SF classics. I know, the high technology of such books would seem hopelessly irrelevant to post-Change readers.