Thursday, 22 March 2018

In The Hooligan

Chives recommends a red wine, not Beaujolais but Chateau Falkayn '35, to accompany a tournedos. (For other meals, see The Food Thread.)

Dominic Flandry and Dominic Hazeltine have just summarized:

The Man Who Counts, Nicholas van Rijn shipwrecked on Diomedes;

The People Of The Wind, Avalon fighting to stay in the Domain of Ythri;

"The Warriors from Nowhere," Flandry rescuing Emperor Hans' granddaughter.

The reference to Chateau Falkayn recalls the Falkayn Domain in Mirkheim.

The conversation has also introduced Dennitza, a planet shared by human beings and Merseians. Every new installment of a future history should refer to what we know and tell us something new. There is a lot of "what we know" by the time we have read Poul Anderson's Technic History as far as A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows.

Flandry And Molitor

When David Falkayn came to Nicholas van Rijn's attention, van Rijn appointed Falkayn to lead the first trade pioneer crew. When Dominic Flandry came to Hans Molitor's attention, Molitor made Flandry one of his several right hand men. Both field and staff work were necessary to persuade the Imperial marches that Emperor Hans was preferable to renewed revolts.

Emperor Josip died;
the Policy Board split on who should succeed him;
Hans seized power;
civil war began;
the Gospodar of Dennitza in the Taurian Sector declared for Hans;
two years later, Hans still had three rivals;
the Taurian Governor tried to detach his sector from the Empire;
Flandry came to Hans' attention by preventing this secession;
the sector capital was moved from Varrak to Dennitza;
now Dominic Hazeltine says that Dennitza in turn might try to secede. 

This period of Technic History is confusing. At the beginning of A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, Flandry describes these events in retrospect. "The Warriors from Nowhere," written much earlier, had described only the attempted Taurian secession but retroactively became a single incident in the Imperial civil war.

For other summaries of the period, see:

The Dennitzan Crisis: Dominic Hazeltine
Transition II

Dominic Hazeltine

Although we did not know this at the time, Persis d'Io became pregnant by Flandry. She left Hauksberg, returned to her birthname, emigrated to the frontier planet of Sassania, restarted her career as a dancer, named her son after his father, got married and never contacted Flandry even when he was knighted for defeating the Scothanians or when he was rewarded for rescuing Emperor Hans' granddaughter and preventing a provincial rebellion. This summary skips over several intervening achievements. He has brought not only the Scothanians but also the Ardazirho into the Terran Empire.

Hazeltine is either Persis' birthname or her married name. Dominic Hazeltine joins Naval Intelligence but contacts his father only when he is established in his career.

Father and son:

hike in the Great Rift on Mars;
gamble in miners' dives in Low Venusberg;
"run" (?) the rings of Saturn;
dine on Iapetus;
discuss the Taurian Sector.

Visible Stars And The Spiral Arm

Regular readers will understand why I quote the following passage in full:

"His gaze went to the stars in the viewscreen. Without amplification, few that he could see lay in the more or less 200-light-year radius of that rough and blurry-edged spheroid named the Terran Empire. Those were giants, visible by virtue of shining across distances we can traverse, under hyperdrive, but will never truly comprehend; and they filled the merest, tiniest fragment of the galaxy, far out in a spiral arm where their numbers were beginning to thin toward cosmic hollowness. Yet this insignificant Imperial bit of space held an estimated four million suns. Maybe half of those had ben visited at least once. About a hundred thousand worlds of theirs might be considered to belong to the Empire, though for most the connection was ghostly tenuous.... It was too much. There were too many environments, races, cultures, lives, messages. No mind, no government could know the whole, let alone cope.
"Nevertheless, that sprawl of planets, peoples, provinces, and protectorates must somehow cope, or see the Long Night fall. Barbarians, who had gotten spaceships and nuclear weapons too early in their history, prowled the borders; the civilized Roidhunate of Merseia probed, withdrew a little - seldom the whole way - waited, probed again.... Rigel caught Flandry's eye, a beacon amidst the great enemy's dominions. The Taurian Sector lay in that direction, fronting the Wilderness beyond which lay the Merseians."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT I, p. 348.

"Too big, this handful of stars we suppose we know..."
-op. cit., p. 349.

Familiar Themes
The size and shape of the Terran Empire.
The edge of a spiral arm.
The tenuousness of the Empire.
Impossibility of interstellar government.
Staving off the Long Night.
Barbarians with spaceships and nuclear weapons.
The long term goal of the Roidhunate.
Imperial Sectors.
The Wilderness between Empire and Roidhunate.

Two Beginnings And Two Endings

A novel can have two beginnings, e.g., a Prologue and a Chapter One, and two endings, e.g., a concluding chapter and an Epilogue. Thus, an optimistic Prologue and Epilogue might sandwich a more sombre text or vice versa.

Poul Anderson's A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606, begins with an untitled italicized exhortation to praise Bodin Miyatovich followed by the opening chapter, I, of the narrative. Chapter XX, concluding the narrative, is followed by italicized praise of Gospodar Bodin, ending with a prayer. During the narrative, we have learned that "Gospodar" is a title. ("Star of the Sea" in Anderson's Time Patrol series also alternates between kinds of prose and ends with a prayer.)

Whereas the speaker of the italicized passages is extravagant in his praise of the peace brought by St. Kossara through the valor of Gospodar Bodin, the viewpoint character of the narrative is decidedly downbeat. Dominic Flandry begins Chapter I by reflecting that Terra is cold in spirit yet ends Chapter XX by saying that he will not stay with his dead fiancee's, Kossara's, people but will return to his own people - on Terra.

Cosmic Context

The cosmic context makes sense not only in hard sf but also in contemporary fiction. Even if a novel is set entirely in London or New York in 2018, its author, readers and characters know that they are on a planet in the Solar System in the Milky Way and the text can express such knowledge. Poul Anderson does this in his Trygve Yamamura novels. Contemporary characters could also refer to Mars and to current ideas about its colonization without trespassing into another genre

In other works, Anderson's time travelers or immortals move among us and therefore could cameo in a contemporary novel.

Life And Consciousness


Understanding Science
Science And Philosophy
Science And Creation
NESFA Collections Vol 2

Consciousness is an accidental byproduct of two unconscious processes:

(i) All energy flows downhill but a small fraction of it temporarily increases order instead of disorder. Life is like a water mill.

(ii) Consciousness is a byproduct of natural selection. Organisms are selected for sensitivity to environmental alterations until some sensitivity becomes sensation which is then selected because pleasure and pain have survival value.

Metaphorically, our lives are conducted inside the artificial structure of human society, also within its ecological support system, but outside and surrounding us in every direction is the unconscious cosmic process of increasing entropy.

Heroes Of Dennitza

Yovan Matavuly led the Founders to Dennitza.
Toman Obilich killed wild Vladimir on the Glacier.
Gwyth sailed through storms on the Black Ocean.
Stefan Miyatovich cast back reavers from Dennitza in the Night Years.
Bodin Miyatovich led a raid that must be remembered in the prose of Poul Anderson because Andrei Simich is no longer alive to celebrate it in a poem.

The Night Years are the Time of Troubles after the Solar Commonwealth, not the (later) Long Night after the Terran Empire.

Stefan Miyatovich, ancestor of Bodin, played the same role on Dennitza as Brian McCormac, ancestor of Hugh, did on Aeneas. See here.

Terra has now entered its regular short night so I will discontinue blogging until maybe breakfast.


Poul Anderson describes a peaceful scene after the Ardazirho have withdrawn from Vixen. Flandry:

"...walked through bustling streets to the little house. Its peaked roof was gold above vine-covered walls."
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters of the Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 149-301 AT XVIII, p. 298.


"Sunlight streamed past roses in a trellis window, casting blue shadows over the warm small neatness of furnishings."
-op. cit., p. 298.

Kit dials "...the public pneumo for drinks..." (ibid.) (pneumo?)


"...looked through a shielding haze of smoke at roses which nodded in a mild summer wind."
-op. cit., p. 299.

The Ardazirho, reorganized as a loose federation, had fought the Merseians, then accepted the Terran Pax because it would protect their tribes from each other!

However, this is not a fairy tale ending. Flandry has visited only to say goodbye to Kit. I could not have walked out on her like that but then I would not have won her admiration or liberated her planet in the first place.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Harmony Or Mystery

 Aycharaych says:

"'I am beaten not by a superior brain or a higher justice, but by the brute fact that you are from a larger planet than I and thus have stronger muscles. It will not be easy to fit this into a harmonious reality.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Hunters of the Sky Cave" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 149-231 AT XVII, p. 297.

Why should reality be harmonious? The brute facts of randomness and of natural selection preceded and still encompass both intelligence and moral judgment. Aycharaych was closer to the mark when he said:

"'The totality of existence will always elude us: and in that mystery lies the very meaning.'"
-op. cit., p. 295.

Mystery transcends any discerned or imagined harmony.

Thinking that he is about to "complete" Flandry's life, Aycharaych says that he will miss him. Holmes missed Moriarty.