Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Orpheus

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation:

I am in bed recovering from a cold, alternately rereading Poul Anderson's The Makeshift Rocket and the works of another fantasy writer who has been mentioned here more than once.

The humor of The Makeshift Rocket is a bit unsubtle for my taste! Our heroine seems implausibly naive and prone to prattling about trivia when urgent facts or events are staring her in the face. There are some memorable moments:

a tentacled alien simultaneously washes the dishes and mops the floor;
an Erse warship is called the Dies I.R.A.;
a fourth generation spaceship's crow with an unusually large and colorful vocabulary may be a mutant resulting from cosmic and atomic radiation.

I have yet to finish rereading ...Rocket but have been moved to post by meanwhile recognizing yet another genuinely different parallel between Poul Anderson and Neil Gaiman: they both retell the Orpheus myth! Anderson retells it as a futuristic sf short story, "Goat Song", with a world-controlling computer replacing the god of the underworld. Gaiman, assisted by the beautiful graphic art of Bryan Talbot and Mark Buckingham, seamlessly incorporates the familiar Orpheus story into his own new mythology of the Endless, with Orpheus now as Morpheus' son and with a continuing narrative presenting later consequences of the Orphic tragedy.

Thus, one powerful ancient myth retold by two powerful modern writers.

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