Sunday, 9 October 2016

Motivations II

See Motivations. I have made several additions to that post since publishing it.

What causes motives? Why, from an early age, did I prefer reading books to playing or watching football? Why did I like Westerns (pictures of men on horses) but prefer sf (pictures of men in spacesuits)?

Let us compare the motives of Poul Anderson's characters. The "Motivations" list includes:

one individual time criminal and two groups of time criminals;
one Imperial Founder and four pretenders;
five extraterrestrials;
four Master Merchants of the Polesotechnic League.

I have listed two of the Master Merchants as simply wanting to get rich, also the Imperial Founder and the successful pretender as wanting to impose order. With these exceptions, all the motives differ. There are three reasons to change history and four reasons to be Terran Emperor. Two of the ET's are Wodenite converts to Terrestrial religions - but to different religions. Axor must seek evidence whereas Adzel meditates. Flandry and Desai serve the same Empire but from very different motives.

Of the motives on offer, I prefer Adzel's and Falkayn's but there is unlimited scope for readers to identify with different characters and viewpoints. Both van Rijn and Axor are Catholics - but religion can be either a vocation (Axor) or a spiritual background to a secular lifestyle (van Rijn).


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

You already know of one reason why I came to prefer SF over Westerns. The former is more outward looking and future oriented. The latter too nostalgic and past oriented.

I'm puzzled by this line of yours, referring to "Motivations": "one Imperial Founder and four pretenders." Manuel Argos was the Imperial Founder but I only saw three Pretenders: Hans Molitor, Hugh McCormac, and Olaf Magnusson. I think you meant to include Edwin Cairncross among the pretenders.

And of these four pretenders Hans Molitor was by far the best and only successful usurper. Because old Hans was a reluctant usurper who only seized the throne after the legitimate order of succession had irretrievably collapsed.

And, yes, both the Founder and Hans Molitor were motivated by the urgent need to restore order. We can't advance or prosper if our society, any society, is in a state or anarchy or collapse.

I don't think Fr. Axor HAD to seek evidence of a Universal Incarnation of Christ on other worlds. I could argue that simply by accepting converts to Christianity by beings of non human races the Church was declaring that the single Incarnation of Christ on Terra was of universal scope and efficacy (interested readers might like to look up my article "God And Alien In Anderson's Technic Civilization").

I agree, Fr. Axor chose to express his faith by becoming a priest while Nicholas van Rijn remained a layman. Or, did Old Nick himself become a monk in his extreme old age? (Smiles)


Paul Shackley said...

I doubt it!
Cairncross is there now. I kept adding to the list.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

True, the idea of Old Nick being an austere and celibate monk and contemplative is rather mind boggling! But the conceit amused me!

Yes, I saw how you included Cairncross in your first "Motivations" piece.