Saturday, April 16, 2011

Booked! Frederik Pohl on L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall - Frederik Pohl

"But Sprague de Camp set himself a harder job than that. His novel’s characters include a rabble of money-changers and household servants and tradesmen, and all of those are made-up persons. Had to be, because what historian would have troubled to record the existence of such low-ranked organisms? But de Camp has set himself the task of showing how the Dark Ages, that long period of abstinence from thought, justice and freedom of expression when the human race marked time for all those hundreds of years, might have been prevented. The period is one in which people of power were little restricted by laws or custom—or, least of all, by common sense—so history was made by the often capricious will of the powerful ones. Of those “important” people the historians recorded every act and deed. So the task de Camp set himself was to measure everything that was done by the Princesses Mathaswentha and the Counts Belisarius and the assorted kings of the relevant nations and tribes, and show how a determined Martin Padway might tweak what did happen into the shape of what would have had to happen to avoid the coming of the Dark Ages. He does it wonderfully, and entertainingly, well."

3.5 out of 5