|First Appearance||Golden Reflections|
"Eyewear" is a short story by Harry Turtledove, published in Golden Reflections (Baen February, 2011). This volume collects The Mask of the Sun by Fred Saberhagen, as well as seven short stories set in the same universe as Saberhagen's work.
"Eyewear" is a secret history (as opposed to an alternate history) in which the historical Moorish slave, Estevánico, one of the four survivors of Pánfilo de Narváez's failed 1527 expedition to Florida, gains possession of a version of the Mask of the Sun. The story opens in 1536, with the four making their way across the Sonoran Desert. One night, Estevánico finds eyewear akin to spectacles. When worn, the eyewear "suggests" the way back to civilization. Soon, Estevánico and his fellow survivors make their way to Culiacán and safety. Along the way, Estevánico receives oblique guidance by a time-traveler named Esperanza, a character from Saberhagen's work. While Esperanza cannot advise Estevánico too directly, he can make suggestions, although he is able to warn Estevánico of the Aztec, who, in another timeline, were able to defeat Hernán Cortés. As in The Mask of the Sun, Esperanza frequently vanishes and reappears, as some force seeks to prevent paradoxes in the time-stream.
Three years later, Estevánico, having been pursued by the Aztec, joins the Coronado expedition for the Seven Cities of Gold. During this trip, the eyewear is stolen from Estevánico, and he is subsequently killed by the Zuni at Hawikuh. The story ends with the Tewa Po'pay finding the eyewear in 1679, while Esperanza watches on.
While "Eyewear" makes references to The Mask of the Sun, including the crosstime Aztec empire, the nature of the Mask, and the fact that Cortés used the Mask to conquer the Aztec, it isn't necessary to read Saberhagen's novel to understand Turtledove's story. On the other hand, familiarity with the former will lead to a better appreciation of these references and the concepts Turtledove uses.
Golden Reflections contains the story "Like the Rain" by Jane Lindskold, which depicts Po'pay's rebellion and use of a Mask. Despite the ending of "Eyewear", Lindskold does not pick up where Turtledove left off, and it does not appear that these stories are meant to be in the same timeline or continuity.
- "Vilcabamba", a story Turtledove says was inspired in part by the research he completed for "Eyewear".