Sunday, 16 April 2017

Current Reading Agenda II

Heroes of action fiction risk casual death from a stray bullet, arrow, spear or sword thrust in every battle. However, the laws of fiction decree either that the hero is invincible or that his death, if it occurs, is a significant event at the climax of a novel, not a minor affair like the death of an extra or spear carrier on the same battlefield. I have read SM Stirling's A Meeting At Corvallis up to the moment of the near miraculous rescue of the hostage Rudi. The author contrives a happy resolution for sympathetic characters on both sides of this conflict - although the novel is not finished yet. There is a hint of fantasy in the uncanny reappearance of Rudi's horse, Epona, at the crucial moment.

To finish reading ...Corvallis.
To continue reading Stirling's Change series.
To reread Anderson's "Memory."
Maybe to check out John C. Wright's The Golden Age.

This last work is relevant because:

I have been told that it was written partly as a homage to Poul Anderson - and even to Harvest Of Stars (?) although I cannot track down where I read this;
it is set in a high tech utopian future and sf authors need to speculate more about this range of possibilities;
its author later converted to Catholicism.

Anderson and Stirling present sympathetic treatments of Catholics. We are able not only to accept supernatural beings as a premise in works of fantasy, and in Milton's Paradise Lost, but also to converse with contemporaries who conceptually inhabit a universe where such beings do exist, like CS Lewis and John C. Wright. We encounter the infinite in philosophy and art.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm almost sure it was Mr. Wright who said in his blog years ago that he had written THE GOLDEN AGE trilogy in part as a homage to Poul Anderson. Then I in turn told you of this.

Poul Anderson was at least agnostic for most of his life, which did not prevent him from respecting honest Christians, especially, it seems, Catholics. But I have wondered whether during his last years if PA had at least wished he believed in God. Certain late texts and works makes me think that was possible.

I think the most Catholic of Poul Anderson's works are THE HIGH CRUSADE and THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS. I recall as well his sympathetic treatment of the Knights Hospitallers in ROGUE SWORD. And short stories like "The Word To Space," "The Problem Of Pain," and "The Season Of Forgiveness" also comes to mind. Technic Civilization novels like THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN and THE GAME OF EMPIRE presents us with serious treatments of philosophy and religion.

I'm pretty sure S.M. Stirling is DEFINITELY agnostic, altho, like Anderson, he too was respectful of honest Christians. Mr. Stirling also seems to have thought it necessary to emphatically declare he was NOT a neo-pagan, despise his extensive use of that religion in his Change books.