Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Sergeants Anderson

SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Seventeen.

Before the Change, Lawrence Thurston was a US Army Captain. After the Change, he rules the (very small) "United States of Boise" but styles himself "President" and intends to restore the USA. However, Sergeant Anderson, who has been with Thurston since before the Change, refuses to address him as anything but "Captain" until he has retaken Washington and held national elections.

Of course, we notice the Sergeant's surname but is there something else here? Does Sergeant Anderson express what Stirling thinks Poul Anderson would have said about Thurston's political pretentions? The Sergeant is differently complexioned but "...otherwise enough like his commander to be his brother." (p. 414) Does this imply that Poul Anderson would have shared Thurston's leadership skills but would have had a more realistic perspective, i.e., would have been like Thurston in some ways though not in others?

The perimeter sergeant of James Blish's Okie city, New York, is also an Anderson but cannot be any relation! A Life For The Stars is a Heinlein-style juvenile sf novel about a young man shanghaied into space whereas The Sunrise Lands is a curious combo of alternative history and Tolkienesque Quest.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think it's simpler to think of Sergeant Anderson's relationship to "General President" Thurston as much like that of Alfred to Bruce Wayne/Batman. That is, loyal and deferential but with just a bit of snark mixed in. Anderson had been with Thurston for so many years that I think he has become close to being a trusted "old retainer" with privileges NO one else has.

I think by the time of the events seen in THE SUNRISE LANDS Lawrence Thurston was resigning himself to the impossibility of restoring the US. Too many other successor states were emerging potentially at least as strong as the "US of Boise" and with absolutely no inclination of becoming part of a restored US.