Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Michael Moorcock – The Cornelius Chronicles (1969-1977)

“Jerry didn't mind the bombs as much as the rock scene. He wouldn't care what they sent so long as it wasn't Simon and Garfunkel.”

Jerry Cornelius is quite possibly the weirdest incarnation of Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion. Jerry is an achingly cool secret agent assassin pansexual music snob who dies and comes back to life frequently. He's armed with supercool weapons like the needlegun and the vibragun, and he throws parties so cool that everyone from Elric to Charlie Parker to Hawkwind attends, (though no one leaves). While all incarnations of the Eternal Champion strive to restore the balance between the forces of order and chaos, Jerry is purely a force of chaos who is never happier than when tearing down empires, regimes and civilisations, or just generally running amok. All this is weird enough, but it doesn't cover the way in which the stories are told. Moorcock wrote the original four Cornelius novels at the height of the 60s counterculture and SF's bold and experimental New Wave, leading him to write a series firmly engaged with its turbulent time and enlivened by the avant-garde techniques of William Burroughs. Aside from the first book in the quartet, the Cornelius stories are told out of chronological order and interspersed with cut-up text from headlines, adverts and newspaper articles to emulate a true sense of chaos. But for all that, Moorcock's pulp instincts and his feel for a good story hold the whole thing together, creating one of those rare pieces of art that manages to be both boldly experimental and immediately engaging. Indeed, these four books may be the great man's crowning achievement.

The Final Programme (1969)

Amazingly, the actual book is arguably weirder than the cover. 

   'The Final Programme', the first Cornelius novel, is relatively straightforward. 'Relatively' being the operative word. When we are first introduced to Jerry Cornelius, he is scheming with a bunch of dubious characters to storm his father's house by sea where his brother, Frank, has holed up so he can steal back his sister and lover, Catherine, from him. This should appear familiar to fans of Moorcock's work, as it's basically the same plot as the first Elric novel. But it is far from simply being a retread. Whereas Elric has always been about moral ambiguity - Elric realises that a lot of the stuff he does simply isn't very pleasant, and boy does he angst about it - Jerry Cornelius is gleefully amoral. Even when he accidentally shoots and kills Catherine, as Elric does to his sister in 'The Dreaming City', he seems more sulky because he's lost this particular game rather than devastated by the death of his true love. 

Jerry, seen here Corneliusing
   Jerry's associates are lead by Mrs. Brunner, the ying to Jerry's yang, a Thatcher expy who represents order at its most fascistic and stiffing. She is hoping to use the technology designed by Cornelius' father to create a computer capable of running the ultimate programme that would be able to predict the fate of the earth and everyone in it to the smallest detail. On the promise of revenge, Jerry tags along with Miss Brunner to track down Frank through secret Nazi caves in Lapland to find a secret document left by Major Newman, an astronaut who allegedly gained some profound insight on a mission that went wrong. This of course Moorcock fans will recognise as a retelling of the Elric story 'While The Gods Laugh'. 

Pictured: cosmic illumination
   Like Elric and his sword Stormbringer, Jerry and Miss Brunner are suggested to be two halves of one whole. In much the same way as Elric draws energy from Stormbringer eating souls, Jerry is a kind of energy vampire who feeds off the life energy of those around him. But Jerry shows himself to be a very different kind of (anti-)hero to Elric. For much of the book he just coasts along; even the promise of revenge against Frank hardly seems to get his blood flowing, and he barely tries to stop Miss Brunner from completing her evil plan. In addition, unlike Elric, Jerry Cornelius likes sex. A lot. In addition to his incestuous relationship with Catherine, Jerry will and does sleep with anything that moves, male or female, allowing himself to be seduced as much as seducing. 
   In the end, Miss Brunner runs her final programme and has sex with Jerry, and the merge into the hermaphroditic being Cornelius Brunner, forming a kind of dark messiah that brings about the apocalypse by leading the whole of the human race into the sea to drown. Perhaps as chaos and order have been united in the perfect balance, there is nothing left for this universe. (This is the first book in a series).

The triumph of Cornelius Brunner
 A Cure For Cancer (1971)

"This book... has an unconventional structure."

   Jerry Cornelius returns in 'A Cure For Cancer', apparently none the worse for wear for merging with Miss Brunner and causing the apocalypse. Perhaps more than any other incarnation of the Eternal Champion, the Cornelius stories make full use of the concept of the multiverse - different alternate universes in which the same struggle between order and chaos is endlessly recapitulated. 'A Cure For Cancer' warns us at the beginning that it has an unconventional structure. While 'The Final Programme' is a linear story that, while weird, still holds together and makes narrative sense, the rest of the Cornelius Quartet from here on out is told out of chronological order, in a series of disjointed but related scenarios playing out in different times and in different universes, as characters representing larger concepts interact. We already have Jerry representing chaos and Miss Brunner and Frank representing the extremes of order, but 'Cancer' expands the Cornelius troop to include the greedy and lustful Bishop Beesley, who represents organised religion. 

Pictured: subtlety
   This time round, Jerry manifests as a photo negative version of himself from the previous novel - white hair and ink black skin and teeth. This Jerry is hardly a moral inversion of the old Jerry - he's just as amoral here as he ever was. This time he's searching for a device he invented that allow him to switch between universes - at the cost of absorbing life in this universe - in order to find a universe in which his beloved Catherine is still alive. 

   As well as facing off against Bishop Beesley, who wants to steal Jerry's device to create a universe of such pure order that time itself will stop, Jerry has to contend with the deranged military forces that Frank has allied himself to this time, militaristic psychopaths who have turned England into a battleground in order to wipe out what they see as some kind of ideological cancer. 'A Cure For Cancer' was written during the Vietnam war, but it's not hard to see how its satire remains pertinent today. 
   While the disjointed structure makes it difficult to figure out exactly what's going on, that's kind of the point. Here Moorcock is plunging us directly into the chaos, and his disruption of conventional narrative structure comes off as a masterstroke. The characters are well drawn enough and there is a consistent texture of atmosphere that the novel maintains its own momentum and is able to come together somewhat for its conclusion. While Jerry may be amoral, selfish and dangerous, he's a darn slight better than the forces he's up against. 

The English Assassin: A Romance Of Entropy (1972)

"As he had often suspected, the end had come quietly and the breakdown had been by slow degrees. In fact the breakdown was still going on. Superficially there was nothing urgent about it. As the weeks passed and communications and services slowly worsened, there always seemed to be a chance that things might improve. He knew they could not improve."

Ashes to ashes...
   Jerry Cornelius himself sits this one out for the most part, which is understandable as the guy's in something of a bad way, drudged up from the ocean floor or screaming incoherently. But that's OK because it gives us more time to focus on the supporting cast. Una Pearson, the suave female assassin who first appeared in the Oswald Bastable novels but is much more at home in the Cornelius crew, takes centre stage here, acting as much as an agent of chaos as Jerry ever did, shooting up European aristocracy and taking his place as Catherine's lover as well. Catherine herself finally gets to spend some significant time alive and undergoes some character development herself. We are introduced to Prinz Lobkowitz, who represents the fading European aristocracy (and gets killed by Una a lot), Major Nye, who represents British Imperialism, Jerry's larger than life cockney mum and her lover, the lugubrious Colonel Pyat. 
   'The English Assassin' follows the unconventional structure of 'A Cure For Cancer' but takes it even further. While in 'Cancer' there was more or less a single narrative thread that it was just about possible to untangle, 'Assassin' atomises the narrative further, providing a series of vignettes occurring across multiple universes and time streams as the characters struggle for the upper hand in this particular iteration. Whilst not providing a solid narrative drive, each of these scenarios deepens our understanding of these characters and the way they interact. Although they all have different agendas, over the course of the novel we see just about every possible permutation of characters working together to further their own needs, proving that they are not as different as perhaps they would like to believe. The openness of the symbols recurring throughout the Cornelius stories and the vagueness of the actual plot allow a myriad of interpretations, which again is perhaps part of the point. 

The Condition Of Muzak (1977)

"Soon he was nearing London. In the evening light the city was phosphorescent, like a neon wound; it glowed beneath a great scarlet sun turning the clouds orange and purple. And Jerry was filled with a sudden deep love for his noble birth-place, the City of the Apocalypse, this Earthly Paradise, the oldest and greatest city of its Age, virgin and whore, mother, sister, mistress, sustainer of life, creator of nightmare, destroyer of dreams, harbour of twenty million chosen souls."

"All art constantly aspires towards the condition of muzak."

   How do you bring to an end something as open-ended and bizarre as the Cornelius Chronicles? 'The Condition Of Muzak' manages the nigh-impossible by acting as both a summation, a clarification and an obfuscation of everything that's gone before. The narrative is as jumbled and as piecemeal as in 'The English Assassin', but here the pieces of story we get appear to be from in between and behind the scenes of all that has gone before. Or is it? Are we catching Jerry in between the missing gaps in 'A Cure For Cancer', are we going to get enough context to be able to put all the events in 'Assassin' into a coherent order? Moorcock is aiming for nothing so simple. These could be the missing pieces of story, or they could be part of some other similar iteration in a different universe, or it could be Jerry sighing and going through the motions of repeating everything from the previous books for our own benefit. Or perhaps, as some sections of 'Muzak' indicate, Jerry is just some seedy kid from Ladbroke Grove who dreams of being a multiverse-surfing super spy because he and his beloved spacerock group The Deep Fix just can't catch a break. The Appendices at the back of the book thumb their nose to the very idea of continuity, giving a timeline of events across the whole of the Twentieth Century and the whole of the world which one man could not possibly have taken part in.
   The interactions between the characters this time round give us some of the clearest examples of who they really are. For example, Miss Brunner explains to Jerry, "Liberty! How I hate it! Given the chance I intend to establish a sane element of authority in this country again." 'Muzak' also puts Moorcock's vision of the future into clearer focus. A recurring element of the endgame scenarios dreamed up in the Cornelius Chronicles is the Balkanisation of larger states, and this is shown clearly here, with England splitting up into a multitude of tiny city states. 
   Also in focus is is Jerry himself and his role in the narrative. The novel's title refers to something that was once shocking and invigorating becoming mere background noise, a condition both Jerry and the Twentieth Century find themselves in at the beginning of the story. The sixties have given way to the seventies, the hippy dream has died and as a new age of cynicism is ushered in Jerry finds himself disillusioned with all his musical heroes, and perhaps with the very idea of heroism to begin with. If you deal in it all the time, even chaos can become boring. Jerry's ensuing identity crisis is played out with reference to the comedia dell'arte, with Jerry (and the audience) assuming that he has the role of Harlequin, with Catherine as his Columbine, and this drives his attempts to find a universe in which he can be with her. However, as the story continues, he begins to realise that his true role is that of Pierrot, the sad clown, and that he is always destined to lose his Columbine, and that Una Pearson is her Harlequin. While this suggests that Jerry will never be able to be with Catherine, it provides Jerry with a way out by taking the narrative pressure off him. Jerry ends his chronicle with the chance to shrug off the chains of narrative conceit, to stop being merely a symbol of chaos and perhaps to live a while as just a person. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

George R. R. Martin - A Song Of Ice And Fire Book Two: A Clash Of Kings (1998)

"What good was it to take a kingdom if you could not hold it?" Theon Greyjoy

"You should have learned by now, none of us get the things we want." Cersei Lannister

   At the end of book one, the Seven Kingdoms teetered on the edge of chaos as five kings laid claim to the Iron Throne. 'A Clash Of Kings' picks up pretty much directly where 'A Game Of Thrones' left off, but as well as focusing on all the pieces already in motion, George R. R. Martin continues to expand the world of Westeros, adding more characters and more viewpoints. So while Tyrion Lannister becomes the King's Hand and sets about trying to fortify King's Landing and minimise the havoc caused by King Joffrey, Robb Stark cements his position as King of the North by leading more battles against the Lannisters and Arya tries to escape to the North with Yoren and the Night's Watch, the late Robert Baratheon's brothers Stannis and Renly gather their forces to make their claim to the throne. If that sounds like it would make for a narrative even more packed and complex than that of 'A Game Of Thrones', well, it does. Astonishingly Martin just about manages to keep all the juggling balls still in the air, though perhaps inevitably the strain does show at times. For all that, it's a thoroughly satisfying sequel, and the action-packed siege of King's Landing is even more exciting than anything in the first book. 

Another book, another map
      As Theon neatly points out at the top of the page, one of the main themes of the book is that being able to achieve power doesn't necessarily mean you are fit to rule. Robert Baratheon became king because he was a great warrior, the one who defeated Rhaegar Targaryen at the Trident. However the very characteristics that made him a great warrior made him a lousy king. Renly shares Robert's easy charisma, but is similarly blase about the practicalities of running a kingdom. Stannis, with his strong sense of justice and serious mind, is much better suited to rule, but his lack of charisma means he is unable to get the popular support necessary to support his claim. In his desperation he winds up allying himself with Lady Melisandra of Asshai, a member of a creepy cult built around the creepy Lord of Light and possessed of sinister dark powers. We see Stannis mainly through the eyes of Davos, a former smuggler knighted by Stannis for single-handedly allowing Stannis to last through the siege of Storm's End. At the same time Stannis also cut off Davos' fingers to punish him for smuggling, which tells you all you need to know about Stannis' sense of justice. Davos is staunchly supportive of Stannis, and his story arc, where he sees the man he respects and loves making worse and worse decisions and heading further and further into the abyss, are grim and powerful.
   Arya Stark also finds herself allying with dubious powers. Yoren's attempt to save her and one of King Robert's bastards by smuggling them north with the new recruits for the Night's Watch is quickly and brutally punished in the way only Martin does. In the ensuing chaos, Arya assists dangerous Lothari madman Jaqen H'ghar, and so when Arya is captured by Gregor Clegane and forced to work as a servant at Harrenhal, he pays her back by offering to kill three people of her choice. She uses this new power to free the Lannister's Northern prisoners and help them take over the castle, but it is a tribute to Martin's gritty cynicism that the servants and workers are no better under the Northern bannermen's control than under the Lannisters. 
   While Arya and Stannis struggle with morality and fight to retain their souls, Theon Greyjoy cheerfully jumps right past the moral event horizon. Nothing more than a minor annoyance in the first book, in 'A Clash Of Kings' Theon becomes a viewpoint character and we get to find out what a toxic environment the inside of his head is. Much like Joffrey, he is revealed to be a twat before his villainy is revealed. Writing for Theon must be a delicate balancing act - he gets enough of a sympathetic backstory that we know exactly where he's coming from and why he is the way he is, whilst his actions always keep us from feeling any actual sympathy towards the character. The Greyjoys as a whole are just awful - parasites who smugly announce 'We Do Not Sow' because they get everything they need by thievery. Desperate to prove his worth, Theon betrays the Starks and takes over Winterfell. His absolute lowest moment comes when he tries to kill Bran and Rickon, and failing to do that murders two similarly aged children to prove he will not be screwed with. As the quote at the top of the page shows, he has moments where he is quite savvy, but because he's an idiot he makes a series of spectacularly poor decisions and gets his thoroughly earned comeuppance. 

The Greyjoy words are "We're going to try our darndest to be worse than the Lannisters! Wish us luck!"
   If the main storyline of 'A Game Of Thrones' was Ned Stark investigating the circumstances surrounding John Arryn's death, the main plot in 'A Clash Of Kings' follows Tyrion's attempts to rule in Joffrey's stead. Tyrion is probably the only character in the book with both the moral fibre to rule justly and the cunning to survive in the cutthroat environment of the King's court. Much of the book involves Tyrion, Varys and Littlefinger snarking at and manipulating each other. It's thoroughly entertaining, and I would happily watch a TV show that was only that. Tyrion has enough awareness that in order to survive and keep the peace in an increasingly fractious environment he is going to have to do some fairly unpleasant things. At one point in the book he comforts himself with the thought that "It is not what we do, so much as why we do it." Really he should know better. Like Ned Stark he is surprised when he discovers that his idealism has alienated people; in fact he winds up the most hated Lannister. Some of this is discrimination, and some of it is that people don't realise the work he does to undermine all the damage Joffrey does, but some of it - that he's filled the city with murderous sellswords - is actually fair enough. For all his careful planning, in the siege of King's Landing at the end Tyrion leads the battle, which winds up getting him grievously injured.    
   'A Clash Of Kings' is also a great book for Sansa and Catelyn. Sansa continues to grow and develop as a character, showing remarkable fortitude in the face of adversity, for what good it does her. At least by the end of the book she is no longer betrothed to Joffrey, though how much good this does her in the long run is debatable. She also acts as the audience's viewpoint on Cersei Lannister for much of the book. Cersei herself gets a fair bit of character development as well, even having a couple of humanising moments as well as neatly summing up how Martin's universe works. Jaime only appears for one scene, but it's a good one, as he baits Catelyn in his cell at Riverrun. Catelyn continues to exemplify the Tully family motto: 'Family. Duty. Honor." Whilst dealing with her grief, she frequently winds up being the only sane man in a world with more than its fair share of hotheads and idiots. Martin's cheap trick of making her believe that Bran and Rickon are dead really stings; the poor woman has enough on her plate already. Meanwhile the threat beyond the Wall grows ever greater as Mance Rayder gathers the forces of the wildlings together for a massive assault; Jon Snow winds up having to seemingly betray his oath as a brother of the Night Watch and joins the wildlings in order to become a double agent.
   The only major character I've not mentioned so far is Daenerys. There's a reason for that. While Martin finds plenty to keep her busy with over the course of the book - she leads her Dothraki raiders through a desert, meets a warlock and has a dream quest - her story is noticeably separate from everyone else's. While all the other characters' actions have impacts on the other characters' stories, creating a complex, interweaving narrative, nothing Daenerys has done so far has had an impact on this, nor has any of it effected her. Hopefully that will change in the next book, as at the end Illyrio Mopatis makes himself known again and provides her with the means to get her forces to Westeros. Hopefully next time round she will have more interaction with the main plot.
  Oh, and yes, Tyrion does get to slap Joffrey again. I really hope this happens in every book. 

Stanisław Lem – Solaris (1961)

“We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all sham. We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don’t want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors.”

The photo is sideways because I hate movie tie-in covers. And not because my photography skills suck. Shut up.

Aliens may be central to the ideology and appeal of SF, but they are frequently not all that, well, alien. Frequently life on other planets is reduced to a thinly veiled caricature of some culture the writer feels is suitably exotic, or a broad representation of whatever human characteristic the writer feels like dealing with today. Both of these approaches are as common as all hell and are thoroughly problematic, the former being straight-up racist and the latter robbing the aliens of any real sense of agency and reducing them to simplistic stereotypes. This is especially common in TV and movie SF – think the classic Star Trek rubber forehead alien – for fairly obvious reasons. Before the advent of CGI it was simply not feasible to build truly alien aliens, and it doesn’t hurt that having human actors makes them more immediately easy to relate to. This isn’t to say that Star Trek and others haven’t told some good stories in this mode. Occasionally Trek would try to come up with more unusual aliens, usually resulting in the god-like alien, who had the power to take human form so they could conveniently be portrayed by a human actor, but also had whatever magical powers the plot demanded. In many ways this is an even lazier alternative, exchanging science for the worst kind of deus ex machina magic. Again this isn’t to say that good stories haven’t been told using this mode.
    When it comes down to it, many of the aliens we encounter in SF can fit broadly into either of these categories. Both of them are disappointingly unimaginative and ultimately unscientific. The appearance of humans has been determined by millions of years of evolution, shaped by the circumstances and environments we encountered on this planet. It is simply unrealistic to assume that any intelligent life we might encounter would have been exposed to exactly the same evolutionary pressures, and simply arrogant to assume that our bipedal mammalian structure would be the gold standard in an infinite universe. Then there is the assumption that aliens would think and behave in ways that are broadly analogous and understandable to human beings. An intelligent life form would again be shaped by its own alien culture, however that may have developed. There is no reason to assume that it would share our values; perhaps we would not even be able to understand each other’s cultures or even thought processes and motivations. Very few works of SF acknowledge this; even writers like Iain M. Banks who create aliens with wonderfully imaginative appearances still have them behave in understandable, relatable and ultimately human ways.
   ‘Solaris’, by Polish author Stanisław Lem, is an exception to this rule. It takes as its major themes how utterly unknowable the truly alien is and the difficulty of communication between life forms so radically different they cannot share any common reference points. It is a tribute to the power of Lem’s vision and the importance of his ideas that ‘Solaris’ is one of the few works in translation to find a permanent place in the British/North American canon of science fiction, despite the only English translation available being the notoriously poor 1970 translation from a French translation of the original Polish. (The first direct Polish to English translation was finally released in 2011 as an audiobook and then as an ebook, but as I dislike audiobooks and I do not own a kindle, this review is of the old translation). It has also been adapted into a film three times, which considering the philosophical nature of much of the text and the sheer trippiness of much of the action, is thoroughly baffling.
   The book centres on Dr. Kris Kelvin, a deeply damaged psychiatrist visiting the Solaris Station, a research space station located over the ocean planet of Solaris. The ocean on Solaris is a single living entity that appears to have some form of intelligence, but all attempts to communicate with it have proven futile. He has been sent to investigate the mental health of the crew, but he soon has his own problems to worry about as he is faced with an apparition of Rheya, his dead wife. It turns out the crew have all experience these visitations, and that it is the ocean’s equally futile attempt to communicate with them. One of the scientists eventually develops a technique to destroy the apparitions. This is pretty much all of the plot, but the novel makes up for the thinness of the plot with its psychological depth.
   Much of the novel is taken up by Lem’s description of the Solaris and the various scientific attempts to understand it. This is an example of exposition done incredibly well. Much of the point of the book is how unknowable this alien life is, and this is reflected by the fact that the scientific community, despite decades of research, actually knows very little about Solaris. In a sequence worthy of Douglas Adams, Lem hilariously lampoons self-important scientific writing and the fickle gaze of mainstream media’s scientific interest. Despite Solaris being the only known example of such a life form, the scientists have nonetheless given it a scientific name and classification. Humanity’s history with Solaris is a history of competing scientific theories of philosophical interest but of absolutely no practicality as the organism is so far outside our experience no one has the slightest idea about how to go about testing these theories. There is not even a scientific consensus on whether or not Solaris qualifies as intelligent life.
   More seriously, Lem takes the opportunity to satirise scientific post-colonialism. The quote at the top of the page shrewdly points out the post-colonialist attitude present in much of the way SF deals with aliens – the Trek ideal of humanity spreading justice and democracy across the unenlightened galaxy. Humanity is incapable of dealing with Solaris because people have approached first contact expecting to see something recognisable and ultimately human reflected back at them within the alien. Solaris is so utterly other that many scientists refuse to acknowledge that it counts as intelligent life, not so much because it doesn’t appear intelligent but simply because it doesn’t conform to our narrow ideals of what ‘life’ is.
  Yet by the end of the book we are left with no doubt that Solaris is an intelligent being attempting to communicate. Solaris is prone to bizarre formations that appear and disappear across its surface. Some of the novel’s most poetic (and most resolutely unfilmable) sequences arise from Lem’s description of the mysterious and beautiful formations such as symmetriads and asymmetriads that spontaneously form and collapse across the surface of the ocean. Dr. Kelvin eventually realises that simply being able to accurately copy a symmetriad and drop it in the ocean wouldn’t necessarily allow us to communicate any better with Solaris because we still fundamentally don’t understand what these formations could possibly mean for the ocean. This is reflected in Solaris’ doomed attempts to communicate. While it is able to flawlessly replicate Kelvin’s wife from his image of her in his mind, the replication isn’t able to act as an avatar for the ocean – an obvious solution to the communication problem that a lesser author would have taken. Because of Solaris’ nature as a massive sentient ocean it can no more understand what individual human beings are than we can understand it. So while the imitation Rheya appears to have consciousness and self awareness, as well as all of the original Rheya’s memories from prior to her death, and can communicate as the original to Dr. Kelvin, she cannot know that she is the creation of an utterly alien being or what that being is trying to communicate. Her presence causes Dr. Kelvin such emotional distress he assumes that Solaris is intentionally trying to torture him, before recognising it as an attempt to communicate using the only information it has available to it yet utterly devoid of understanding of what that information means. But it does reveal that Solaris wants to communicate with humanity and is willing to try, perhaps the only thing these two widely different organisms share.