Sunday, 15 April 2018

Rustling Trees

"'I need to talk to George,' I said.
"For a while nothing happened. From the darkening world outside, just the rustle of trees and the moan of cattle."
-John le Carre, A Legacy Of Spies (Penguin, 2017), 13, p. 254.

Regular blog readers will understand why this short passage reminded me of Poul Anderson. The need to talk to George Smiley is sufficiently dramatic. It is appropriate that it is followed by silence - which is underlined by the outer darkness and by the sound of the wind in the trees. Smiley, when he has finally been tracked down, will pronounce the epitaph for the old days of the Secret Service as Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn did for the old days of the Polesotechnic League.

What becomes of once important records that are no longer used or referred to? As a matter of personal loyalty to Smiley, a woman called Millie has microdotted and cached papers entrusted to her and will release them when he tells her to. In the Technic History, van Rijn and Falkayn, foreseeing the Troubles, move records from Earth to Hermes, eventually providing material for the historian, Hloch.

I wanted to mention Falkayn:

"I'll also mention that Falkayn's influence on the course of human history arguably is even greater than that of van Rijn... In any case, it's obvious that Falkayn, like his creator, is a fan of Leslie Charteris, and how could I slight a fellow acolyte of the Saintly chronicles?'"
Hank Davis, "Planets And Profits: Introducing Nicholas van Rijn and the Polesotechnic League..." IN Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (Riverdale, NY, 2009), pp. ix-xvi AT p. xiii.

I have argued that Falkayn's contributions to history are greater than those of either van Rijn or Flandry.

Since I find on our bookshelves a Saint Omnibus with both a Foreword and an Afterword by the author, I might read some of that to find out what comparisons can be made but, meanwhile, good night.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I can see why le Carre's use of "rustling trees" would remind you of how Poul Anderson used similar metaphors.

I'm sure you recall our discussion on the matter of the "influence" of David Falkayn. I would not minimize Old Nick's role in history too much, while conceding Falkayn's influence was greater, in some ways, than that of van Rijn. But I don't agree Flandry's contributions to this fictional history were less than those of Falkayn.