Thursday, 3 November 2016

Souls And Piety

Manuel alleges that the Cainites lack souls. When Per asks, "'Do they?'" (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 291), van Rijn replies:

"'We leave that to the theologians...They get paid to decide.'" (ibid.)

Some people are content with such a response:

if there is a problem with a car engine, ask a mechanic;
poor health, ask a doctor;
inherited money, consult a financial adviser;
a question about the theological basis of someone's religious practices, ask a clergyman.

No! I accept the authority of mechanics, doctors and financial advisors but on questions about my nature, like whether I have a soul, I think for myself. I know that a clergyman will relay to me whatever he was told in his seminary but I can read that for myself along with all the other conflicting beliefs.

"Van Rijn crossed himself with a somewhat irritating piety. 'I make no blasfuming,' he said." (p. 323)

I agree with the narrator in finding this display of piety somewhat irritating. I appreciate the veracity of Poul Anderson's narrative and can almost imagine myself present at this conversation.

In "Esau," the omniscient narrator informs us of Dalmady's conversation with van Rijn and of Dalmady's experiences on Suleiman and makes clear that Dalmady recounts those experiences to van Rijn. In "The Master Key," a first person narrator informs us of van Rijn's conversation with Per and Manuel and relays Per's and Manuel's first person accounts of their experiences on Cain. Thus, diverse and subtle narrative techniques.

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