Schrodinger Answers #3 – Impressing the Cat
Impressing the Cat
“What is it with you humans and Elves?” Schrodinger asked, tearing me away from the pages of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion
“Huh?” I asked, not sure what he was talking about.
“You have mail.” He informed me from his seat in front of the computer.
“And?” I asked, still eager to get back to my book.
“Gaie Sebold wants to know if the Elves of Nordic myths have any traditional enemies, and if so who or what are they?” He read out the letter.
“Well,” I said, understanding I won’t be able to get back to my book before answering, “Frankly, Elves aren’t that common in Norse myth, as opposed to Celtic myths. However, The Norse mythology states that creatures called the Svartalfar…”
“‘Black Elves’, literally”, Schrodinger translated.
I ignored him and went with my lecture “… came into existence as maggots growing in Ymir’s (The first giant from whom the world was created and who was killed by Odin) flesh. They reside in Svartalfheim which is located under the Earth and are often confused with dvergar
“Dwarves” Schrodinger continued his translation efforts.
I continued ignoring him. “More probably than not, TSR’s Drows were based on these creatures. Although I haven’t encountered any stories of conflicts between the Elves and the Black Elves and although neither of these creatures take part in the Norse myths, it is mentioned in a few tales from other Indo-European legends that these two races despised each-other.”
“That’s it?” Schrodinger asked.
“Almost”, I answered, “The god Freyer, the Lord of the Elves is said to be killed on the first day of Ragnarok by the fire giant Surt, so even those it is not said so directly perhaps we can assume that Elves have it in for Fire Giants. That more or less sums it up.”
“Any more questions?” I forgot completely about the book and was pumped up and ready for some work.
“Here’s one from someone who read your Semantics of Science Fiction article.” Schrodinger answered. “He wants to know where H.G. Wells fits into the scheme of things. He says that he remembered Wells as being labeled as ‘pessimistic’ and leaning towards the negative side of technology. He also says that he found it interesting that Jules Verne appears to question the ‘good’ of technology.
“What’d you know, someone actually reads those articles?” I was somewhat surprised.
“Apparently.” Schrodinger answered. “But don’t let it get to your head. Just answer the questions.”
“Well, lets start with Wells.” I said, amused with my pun. Schrodinger just gave me one of his looks he saves for the times he doesn’t want to waste his breath with words. I hurried on with the answer. “Wells writes Hard Core Science Fiction, at least in my opinion. I read most of his work and I cannot recall even one interesting character. On the other hand, I can recall in a fair amount of detail the technological ideas he deals with like time-travel, alien invasion and even invisibility. Frankly, it seems as though people, characters and plot lines simply didn’t interest him as much as the technology he wrote about – a definite characteristic of Hard Core Science Fiction.”
“And Verne?” Schrodinger asked.
“Verne doesn’t go into as much trouble to show-case technology’s short-comings as other authors in the Science Semi-Fiction genre, but there definitely is such an undertone in his work. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo is portrayed as a self-appointed avenging angel, a man who put himself above human society and law. This position he could only achieve thanks to superior technology, but the morality of his actions is questioned by the book’s heroes throughout it. In Journey to the Center of the Earth the Professor is described as a fanatic scientist, more interested in his research than in the wishes or even the well-being of his companions. This undertone is present in most of Verne’s works to some degree or another.”
“Hmm…” Schrodinger sniffed. “It almost sounds as if you have a clue what you’re talking about. I’m impressed…”