Discussion Board

Topic: The Queen of Air and Darkness

From: Sean M. Brooks
Location: Lawrence, MA
Date: 08/03/2009

Dear Mr. Bear: I hope you don't mind me commenting yet again about your late father in law, Poul Anderson.

I was very pleased to get my copy of NESFA Press' THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS: THE COLLECTED SHORT WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON, vol. 2, last week. I'm looking forward to reading it once I get some other reading finished.

Alas, however, I've already noticed an error. The publication credits for the novelette "The Queen of Air and Darkness" says that story was published in 1958. Actually, "The Queen of Air and Darkness" was first published in 1971. I even have a copy of the April 1971 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION containing the first printing of that story.

While musing about your father in law's works, I realized that he was one of the few SF authors I know of to seriously use poetry in his writing. In fact, PA incoporated three entire ballads as integral parts in three of his works: "The Battle of Brandobar" in AFTER DOOMSDAY; "Mary O'Meara" in WORLD WITHOUT STARS; and "The Queen of Air and Darkness" in the novelette of the same name. To say nothing of other verses long and short in others of PA's books.

One of the more annoying reviews I read of one of PA's books was the article I saw about HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA. The reviewer was irritated by how PA quoted or composed original verses for that book. I disagreed because I believe poetry can have a legitimate place even in mostly prose works. That review of HROLF KRAKI'S SAGA reminded me of the hostile comments I've seen by some critics of JRR Tolkien's use of poetry for his THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

Re: The Queen of Air and Darkness

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/03/2009

Thank, Sean! Pass along your comments to NESFA. They do corrections in subsequent editions. Poul was definitely a skald in the old tradition--and "skald" meants poet!

Re: The Queen of Air and Darkness

From: Sean M. Brooks
Location: Lawrence, MA
Date: 08/04/2009

Dear Mr. Bear: Thanks for your remarks.

As per your suggestion, I sent the link of this thread to Mr. Katze, of NESFA Press. And he has already replied in a very friendly way.

One bit of Mike Resnick's Preface for THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS which amused me was his discussion of your mother in law's explanation of how PA came to write "The Critique of Impure Reason." That will make me reread the story with SPECIAL interest when I start reading the collection.

One special peeve I have is irritation at carping critics who gripe at how writers like PA and Tolkien did not always use demotic, standard American or British English for their works. They objected to how these writers sometimes used archaic words and styles of writing. And they seem to have special hostility to PA and Tolkien using poetry. But, you already knew that! (Smiles)

Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

Re: The Queen of Air and Darkness

From: Greg Bear
Date: 08/18/2009

Hm! They should try E.R. Eddison...

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