Sunday, 19 March 2017

Hash Browns And Conversations

SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter Seventeen.

Mike Havel eats "...another fried egg...," then "...load[s] more hash browns on his plate." (p. 471)

A man after my own heart! So how many of each does he eat? Yesterday, we had a very short stop on our way to London so I bought a take-out breakfast including two fried eggs and two hash browns. Sometimes we have breakfast at a place where I load my plate with them.

This chapter is part of an extended section of the novel when the good guys discuss recent activities, interrupted by frequent lengthy flashbacks to those activities. Sir Nigel describes his meeting with the dictatorial "Protector," then a flash back passage recounts the meeting from Sir Nigel's pov. However we leave that pov before returning to the good guys' conversation because another short passage recounts a conversation between the Protector and his wife when they are alone. Whose pov is this? Most of it could be an externally observed dialogue. We might initially assume that it is the Protector's pov because the passage begins with him grinning when he is alone with his wife. So, if it is anyone's, it is going to be his pov unless we are informed otherwise. When we are told that he grits his teeth, it is even more likely to be his pov although the teeth-gritting is externally observable because her smile widens when the gritting happens. Finally, we are told what he is inwardly thinking so it is definitely his pov.

Pov is important. Poul Anderson and SM Stirling always get it right. The Protector and his wife are by-now-familiar Stirling villains. To them, other people exist only as means to their ends. Ideally, they would be prevented from exercising any power over anyone else. In practice, they are going to have to be killed - the sooner the better.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Alas, the kind of meal we see Mike Havel enjoying would not be good for US, given our relatively sedentary lives. It makes sense for Lord Bear because of the far more physically active life which he leads, whether he likes it or not.

I agree with what you said about the Protector and is even more sinister wife Sandra. My only caveat being that the tyrants who sometimes found new states ofttimes have milder successors.

And I recall how, even as early as THE PROTECTOR'S WAR, Norman Arminger was finding out that the neo-feudalism he was setting up was already, to his annoyance, putting some limits on what he could prudently do.


S.M. Stirling said...

The Law of Unintended Consequences hits tyrants, too... 8-).

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I agree, which is fortunate for us! Norman Arminger could crush two or three of his barons, but not a baronage which united in OPPOSITION to him. So he had to maneuver and act in ways which would not provoke such a united opposition to arise.