Monday, 26 June 2017

"...the Change made all the old stories real."

SM Stirling, The Sword Of The Lady (New York, 2009), Chapter Sixteen, p. 471.

In Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword, all the deities coexist, including Odin and the White Christ, whereas, in SM Stirling's Emberverse, the deities have come into existence? Or something. I think. I don't know yet. Thus:

Rudi Mackenzie meets Odin and Father Bear in dreams;
Father Ignatius meets Mary in a waking vision;
we see someone else enter the Summerland;
a godwoman senses the Wild Hunt overhead.

It is comprehensible that, after the Change, several small groups took the opportunity to reorganize life on the bases of Wicca, Asatru, Tolkien etc but something else is happening as well. The old stories are becoming real.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And that's why I call the Emberverse books hard science fiction with a strong dash of fantasy! An unusual mix of genres which I think PA pioneered in his two OPERATION books. Altho I think it's possible some of the earlier works of L. Sprague De Camp also used this idea.


S.M. Stirling said...

de Camp did, and Poul worked in that tradition -- but with a finer hand, I think.

de Camp was so much of a rationalist that even when he was working in an imagined universe where the supernatural was literally true he had trouble with the emotional, the sub- and supra-rational elements that are integral to it.

Poul handled those aspects much better; he was a materialist too, but I think he was good at things like the terror and numinous awe and exaltation involved. He understood in his bones how central its faith is to most cultures -- stories like "Star of the Sea" bring this out very vividly.

Incidentally, I think in a more general sense this is why de Camp's Robert E. Howard pastiche isn't very successful, even though he's technically a very good writer and had an encyclopedic command of the Hyborian universe Howard created. Howard had a strong streak of blood-soaked romanticism that de Camp just lacks; the -believed- while he was telling a story.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Thank you for your very interesting comments. Yes, Poul Anderson was better than De Camp at handling the supernatural and evoking how that FELT to people who BELIEVED in God or gods.

In fact, I have wondered how much of an agnostic PA was in his later years. Certain texts in his late phase works makes me wonder if Anderson at least WISHED he could believe in God. I mean poems like "Prayer In War" and the verses in honor of the BVM in "Star Of The Sea."