Friday, 1 May 2015
Talking To An Immortal
Poul Anderson, The Boat Of A Million Years (London, 1991).
How would you talk with someone who you knew was three millennia old? His experience would have an entire dimension that was unknown to you, like speaking with someone who had returned from another planet. The fictional CS Lewis wonders where he stands with his friend Ransom when the latter has returned from Malacandra/Mars.
Giannotti, who knows Hanno's age, asks him whether he picked up the habit of smoking from Tutankhamen but Hanno replies, "'Before my time...'" (p. 378). Natalia, who does not know his age, accuses him of having "'...Neanderthal politics...'" (p. 410)! He could have quipped, "Before my time...," but she would have neither understood nor appreciated that. She also accuses him of "'Plagiarizing Heinlein...'" (p. 385). Thus, Anderson acknowledges his debt to Heinlein.
Natalia knows that Hanno is concealing everything about himself, his real life and work, from her. This is destroying their relationship even before he meets an immortal woman, Svoboda. This reminded me of something. In the Smallville TV series, Lana Lang and Lex Luthor know and sense that Clark Kent is concealing something important about himself from them. They know that there is a mystery but do not know what it is. The deception implicit from the beginning in Superman's secret identity generates a tragedy of Greek proportions. Clark should have confided in four close friends from the beginning. They would have kept the secret and helped him. Instead, Luthor becomes a mortal enemy. Hanno, however, has impeccable reasons to remain silent.