Post by Mike Scott Rohan Post by Richard Partridge
On 7/5/17 11:02 AM, Mike Scott Rohan, at
I enjoyed Batman comics, too, when they were imported -- although I preferred
Green Lantern and Hawkman, among others, as well as some British ones you've
never heard of. And the tedium of a teenage hitch at a Perthshire army camp
was lightened only by a volume of Thor reprints. I've made my living as a
science-fiction and fantasy writer, after all, which may not be as identical
as The Big Bang Theory writers seem to think, but ain't that far removed
As to the potion, yes indeed. But it's worth remembering that Marke's
forgiveness is wholly Wagner's invention, as indeed is his entire character.
The legendary Mark was usually depicted as a vengeful son of a bitch, at least
as events developed, but not without some excuse. By the standards of the
knightly codes around the time of the early versions of the legend, Tristan's
pre-potion love for Iseult would have been inherently dishonorable (hers
doesn't count so much!). The potion and its liberating effect give them
extenuation in the eyes of the audience, but still leave Mark publicly
humiliated and bound to retrieve his wife. As he does, in later versions, at
least for a while, by coming to terms with Tristan. These versions were
influenced by ideas of "courtly love", in which the husband becomes at best a
straw villain to be outwitted. Wagner significantly removed the element of
dramatic conflict from the story, making Mark positively saintly and
redirecting the nastier aspects into Melot -- in most versions it's Mark who
wounds Tristan. Why Wagner did this is an interesting speculstion, but it
certainly makes Tristan harder to stage.
I used to read a lot of science fiction. Science fiction gets a bad name
because whenever an established author writes a book in that genre, it isn't
viewed as science fiction. It's viewed as literature. For example, "Brave
New World," by Huxley, fits any conceivable definition of science fiction.
Another example would be Orwell's "1984."
I can't resist putting in a plug for my all-time favorite work of SF: "The
Mote in God's Eye," by Niven and Pournelle. Have you read it?
Yes, Kingley Amis and Robert Conquest both make exactly that point in their
anthologies. My late colleague Iain Banks (whose The Wasp Factory was adapted
for an opera and staged at the ROH) used to write self-conscious "literature"
under that name and SF as Iain M. Banks, just to underline and mock the
distinction (and, unforgiveably, was very succesful at both!).
Just as anything fantastic become "magical realism" if it's written by the
"right kind" of author; Bulgakov's Master & Margarita was immediately hailed
as a magical-realism classic by critics who didn't realise he'd written
entirely recognisable SF as well. Fortunately the distinction seems to be
blurring at last.
Yes, I've read Mote in God's Eye, often -- very likeable, and I much preferred
it to its sequel. I've met Larry himself a couple of times, especially when we
were on convention panels together, though I have to say I didn't take to him
personally, much as I admire his stuff. I have friends in common with Jerry,
but can't remember meeting him -- lots of stories about him, though, including
his standing over the chef at a convention with a machete... My own US mentors
included Poul Anderson, Jim Blish (both into opera, incidentally) and Roger
Zelazny, all much missed.
I thought "The Mote in God's Eye" was truly inspired. I read several
subsequent works by the same team and I thought they didn't come close.
For sustained quality and originality I'd choose Arthur C. Clarke and Robert