The Queen of Air and Darkness by Poul Anderson

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Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In The Queen of Air and Darkness, Anderson declares, "Homo can truly be called Sapiens when he practices his specialty of being unspecialized. His repeated attempts to freeze himself into an all-answering pattern or culture or ideology or whatever he has named it, have repeatedly brought ruin." As in much of his writing, Anderson here explores the nature of freedom and the illusions that humanity sometimes creates for itself.

The story takes place on a planet named "Roland," which is the name of a hero of medieval French romances. The secretive native inhabitants of Roland use their psychic powers to make themselves appear to be fairies, elves, and trolls. Some human beings are deluded into believing that the fairy world is real and is a beautiful realm of freedom, although the humans are actually deluded psychic slaves. Much is made of the fairy world appealing to subconscious "archetypes" that seem to people to be magical and free of frailty and sorrow. The blending of science fiction and medieval myths into a coherent narrative makes The Queen of Air and Darkness an exceptionally memorable work of fiction. are explored.