Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sleet, Rain, Wind And Cold

Through sleet, rain, wind and cold, Everardus the Goth rides across flat acres between withered grass, leafless trees and burned houses.

"The north wind smelled of the swamps over which it had roared, of the seas beyond, and of winter striding down from the Pole." ""Star Of The Sea" IN Time Patrol, p. 601)

This opening paragraph, addressing four senses, ends with swamps, seas and winter! The sleet hisses, vision is lost, chill penetrates clothes and the wind smells.

For narrative purposes, Anderson need only have written that Everard of the Time Patrol rode to meet the Roman general, Petillius Cerialis. Imagine an Anderson text with all its descriptions of natural scenery edited out.

In the timeline guarded by the Patrol, Romans and barbarian rebels make peace. To reinforce this course of events, a Patrolman must negotiate between the general and the rebels. Patrol histories, files, computers and experts persuade Everard that "...this is the proper configuration of a plenum that has powerful negative feedback. We've identified the random factor that could bring on an avalanching change; what we must do is damp it." (pp. 607-608)

Cerialis would not be flattered to know Everad's thoughts on the Romans:

"I'll never be fond of the Romans, but they do bring other things with them than slave traders, tax farmers, and sadistic games. Peace, prosperity, a widened world - those don't last but when the tide ebbs it leaves behind, scattered through the wreckage, books, technologies, faiths, ideas, memories of what once was, stuff for later generations to salvage and treasure and build with again. And among the memories is that there was, for a while, a life not given over entirely to naked survival." (p. 604)

How much of European history is attempts to rebuild the Roman Empire?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Quite true! The memory of Rome lingered long, long, long, in the consciousness of many, many people in Europe after the Western Empire fell. Evidence of which can be found in St. Gregory of Tours HISTORY OF THE FRANKS and St. Bede's ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE. And the Holy Roman Empire was an abortive attempt at reuniting Europe. And then there were the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars as France under Napoleon tried to conquer Europe. And Hitler's National Socialists came close to conquering Europe. Even the crude, top heavy, oppressively bureaucratic "European Union" of today was probably inspired, to a degree, by Rome.