Marcel Dumezil, patriarch of the Benedictine Monists on the planet called Harmony, moved with assurance in everything he did. It was not egotism, exactly, that made him feel his every act was correct, but faith in God, faith in his special place in God’s plan, and faith in his understanding of that plan. Had he been accused of egotism, he would have denied the charges hotly – but humbly. He had long since transcended identifying his personal wishes with God’s. Now he was tangled in the less common, but more dangerous fallacy of identifying God’s personal wishes as his own.
Marcel Dumezil was a man without doubts. He was also a man of great practical wisdom and vast experience in colonizing and in the leading of colonists. He held himself to be indispensable and was more than half right.
He slept only four hours each night, devoting to prayer the other four hours he allowed himself away from his duties. Hypocrisy was not one of his characteristics; he believed utterly in his God and his mission. And this made him dangerous. Lacking internal weakness, he tolerated no weakness in his followers. Believing first in God and only secondarily in man, he was utterly ruthless.
He had thrown the grenade.
The description of Marcel Dumezil’s mindset at the end of the second paragraph is confusing, and I’m okay with that. If the reader passes over it, fine; if he is puzzled, perhaps his irritation will help clarify his thinking. Not everything needs to be spelled out.
To keep names straight as you read on, colony leader Marcel Dumezil is a fire eater who is totally consumed by his religion. Today, he would be a jihadi. His son, named Anton, is a competent leader whose religious fire also burns, but with less heat. He becomes the colony’s leader after his father’s death. Anton’s son, also named Anton, is a twit. All the strength in that line dies out in three generations, but Anton the younger will still set things in motion in the second half of the book.
The last line in this section irritated Thomas Anderson at Schlock Value, when he reviewed Jandrax recently. He said:
Oh wait, about twenty pages in we just…learn who did it (threw the grenade). It’s not even a mystery solved. The narrator tells us. Out of the blue. It was very disappointing.
In fact, Dumezil threw the grenade to remove his people from the temptations of the world. It set up the story and gave a clear picture of his character. There was no intention of creating a mystery. The stranding was of supreme importance; who did it, wasn’t particularly important. Once the results of the explosion had been firmly nailed down, I let the reader know who did it at the first convenient moment. No mystery intended; just a timing issue.
Of course, there is a lesson here for the would-be writer. What we intend is a great deal less important than what the reader sees. more tomorrow