Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Old Phoenix Sequence

I suggest "the Old Phoenix Sequence" as an umbrella title not only for the one novel and two short stories featuring this inter-universal tavern but also for the three other novels that are connected by common characters. Holger Danske, Valeria Matuchek and the unnamed narrator of the short stories are the unifying characters of the entire sequence.

I thought I had found evidence that both Holger and Rupert of the Rhine visit the Old Phoenix at least twice. The short stories narrator mentions them although he was not present when they met there in A Midsummer Tempest. However, a closer examination of the text in All One Universe (New York, 1996) reveals that he says only:

"...I have heard, or seen for myself..." (p. 111)

 - followed by a list of names including Holger and Rupert.

Whether Holger ever returns to his original Carolingian mythological timeline is one of several unanswered questions in the Anderson canon. Sequels that Anderson did not have time to write include:

Holger's return;
what happened after the events in The Broken Sword;
the career of Dominic Flandry's daughter;
one last volume to complete and conclude the Time Patrol series?

The Old Phoenix is one of several physical locations that become familiar as we read Anderson. Outside, the signboard shows a phoenix near its death and resurrection carrying a branch of cloves to a nest it is weaving and there is an elephant's head door handle. Inside, there are massive ceiling beams, oak floor and walls, a long central table with benches, smaller tables, a log fire in a stone fireplace, intricately carved, ivory-inlaid armchairs, a mahogany bar with a brass foot rail, a door to the kitchen, a staircase to bedrooms, crammed bookshelves, a desk with writing materials and two globes, a mantelpiece with a giant hourglass and two seven-branched brass candlesticks which together with tapers on the walls adequately light the taproom, a ticking grandfather clock, windows shuttered against the inter-cosmic void and wall pictures including what we recognize from its description as a photograph of Saturn.

No comments: