Sunday, 11 June 2017

Opposite Attitudes To Leadership In War

Admiral Nelson was shot because he was standing on the deck of the Victory instead of remaining safe inside whereas Poul Anderson's Admiral Cajal is physically secure at the centre of a superdreadnaught behind his fleet. See here. Cajal must cope with responsibility and guilt but not also with personal danger.

When Rudi Mackenzie is with a band of Sioux who are being challenged to single combat, he says, "'I'll take this one...'" (p. 395) (see here), i.e., he volunteers to fight. How will Rudi live long enough to lead his people if he keeps risking his life like this?

Of course, as the hero of an action novel and even of a series of novels, Rudi leads a charmed life but he does not know that! He will either not die during the series or will die in a significant way at the climax of a novel as his father did. But meanwhile is it plausible that someone whose life is continually in danger can be relied on to survive indefinitely and also to remain physically intact? One of his Quest companions has already lost an eye and they still have a long way to go through often hostile territory.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have to agree, Rudi Mackenzie escapes death or serious wounding too many times to be plausible, given how many times he deliberately risks his life. That is a weakness in Stirling's treatment of him. Even if Rudi had a "fate" laid on him, it would have been more realistic if he had refused this duel with the Rancher.

As Poul Anderson said more than once in his Technic stories, a main purpose of superdreadnought battle ships is to give fleet commanders like Admiral Cajal the security and TIME they and their staffs needed for THINKING about and planning fleet operations during battles. That was NOT cowardice, but sheer practical necessity.

And Admiral Nelson should have at least removed his medals and shinier emblems of rank. A battle is not the time and place to indulge in vanity!