Saturday, 8 September 2012

Operation Chaos Conclusion

Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos combines three ideas:

Hell, a place inhabited by malevolent demons;
a universe at full entropy, dark space containing only dead stars and planets;
a universe with radically non-Euclidean and locally variable spatiotemporal relationships.

Do these ideas fit together? Parapsychic forces move and animate otherwise inert matter so that, on a dead planet in the full entropy universe, demons are embodied and dead armies fight an endless battle.

Considered in isolation, the non-Euclidean space-time idea might have led just to a game of hide and seek in a four dimensional labyrinth but, combined with the first two ideas, it enables:

demons to prepare horrific conditions for anyone arriving from Earth;
the Matucheks, rescuing their kidnapped daughter Valeria, to arrive in Hell/on the dead planet before Valeria and her kidnapper, thus to return her immediately to Earth before she has had time to experience any of the Hellish conditions.

So Anderson just about pulls it all together.

The Adversary, or some other being almost as low down in Hell, had directly addressed Steve Matuchek a few times in a way that had suggested a build up to a big showdown that never really happens. The kidnapping of Valeria was not, as I had thought, an attempt to lure the Matucheks to a place where they could be disposed of but more of a local accident. The Matucheks confront only a local baron and his hordes in Hell. However, there is a sequel, Operation Luna, which I will shortly reread.

(Incidentally, though, the Matucheks return from Hell with a prisoner, Valeria's kidnapper, whose evidence closes down a demonic front, the Johannine Church, so they have indeed set back the Adversary's plans as he had anticipated they would.)

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