Thursday, 19 April 2018

The Unnavigibility Of The Cloud Universe

The first Kirkasanter interstellar ships visited some of the many stars that are visible from Kirkasant. The crew of the Makt intended to take only the next step, steering by stars already charted on the edge of instrumental perception. However, that charting was imprecise because the absolute magnitudes, therefore the distances and relative positions, of the barely visible stars had not been determined as well as astronomers had believed: too much haze, shine and variability. Also, the Kirkasanters had not known how many stars there were only a few light-years beyond. Approaching wrongly identified stars, the Makt bypassed Kirkasant, eventually emerging from the Cloud Universe and plunging back into "...that forest of suns..." (p. 735) (For full reference, see here) three times without success.

Although the light from supergiants is diffused and absorbed, their neutrinos might be detected and used as beacons. However, the effect is soon smothered because there are too many:

neutrino sources;
magnetic effects;
stars close together;
rapidly revolving double, triple and quadruple stars twisting the force lines;
radiations keeping much of the interstellar medium in a plasma state;
electromagnetic actions;
synchraton and betatron radiations;
nuclear collisions;

The noise level is too high for any extrapolable instruments because the laws of atomistics would not allow their filters to be precise enough.

Inertial navigation would work at kinetic velocities but on hyperdrive, which is necessary to cross parsecs, and because inertial and gravitational mass are identical, too rapid a change of gravitational potential can cause uncontrollable precession and nutation, which cannot be compensated for among so many closely packed stars moving on incalculably complex paths with too high a variation rate.

Although Jaccavrie can at any time follow a straight line into clear space, the significantly increasing cosmic radiation indicates not only magnetic acceleration but also enormous nova production which in turn implies hazards like neutron stars, rogue planets, large meteoroids and thick dust banks that might be undetectable before they are encountered.

Some stars excite psuedoquasar processes, detectable in the visible and short infrared wavelengths, in the interstellar medium although the radio bands are clear of that kind of wave.

Despite Jaccavrie's warnings and misgivings, Laure proceeds. Does Jaccavrie resent the time that he is spending with Graydal?

Entering The Cloud Universe

Entering the Cloud Universe while standing on the bridge of Jaccavrie, Dave Laure sees:

not dark but shining space;
every color;
dull red reflecting nearby suns;
myriads of stars, ruby, ember, yellow, candent, green or blue;
some stars clear, a few tiny discs, most fuzzy glows;
mist engulfing dimming shimmers;
roiling formlessness.

He hears crackling noise, feels pulsing energies and remembers the Ginnungagap.

The Unusual Planet And The Cloud Universe

Are there any careful students of this blog? If there are, then one of them might notice that Another Unusual Planet (Saturday, 13 September 2014) and Yet Another Unusual Planet (Thursday, 19 April 2018) describe the same planet. There is no plan or oversight of posts over a span of three and a half years so randomness prevails. The two descriptions differ so let both stand.

Is it a coincidence that this unusual planet and the nearby newly condensed star are in sight of the Cloud Universe? No. They are in the thin verge of the gas-filled globular cluster that the Kirkasanters, observing it from within, had thought was a distinct universe. The infalling cosmic material that had made the unusual planet's sun expand came from the globular cluster and the dynamic processes within that cluster are continually causing new stars to condense.

Although Kirkasanter scientists had no problems with physics, chemistry, atomistics or quantum theory, they:

observed stars mere light-months apart vanishing into the shining fog;
measured the concentration of the observable dust and gas;
thought that the interstellar medium was uniformly dense everywhere;
had no conception of receding galaxies (nor did Terrestrial astronomers until 1929);
formulated a relativistic theory of a universe two or three hundred light-years across with its space sharply curved by its condensed mass;
have different laws and constants in their physics;
saw stars condense and evolve chaotically with no cosmic structure;
already knew that gravitics and hyperdrive were possible;
made FTL ships work despite theoretical problems;
thought that the dark space outside the Cloud Universe was another universe;
postulated a multidimensional explanation.

Yet Another Unusual Planet II

Daven Laure's first sight of the Cloud Universe could have been from the bridge of Jaccavrie. Instead, Poul Anderson created a whole new planet (see here) for Laure to stand on. How are mountains eroded on a planet without an atmosphere? By meteorites and heat. All the details are there although this planet and its sky are described only on these three pages of "Starfog."

Probably readers barely notice and instantly forget this unnamed planet although it is a worthy companion of Satan, Mirkheim and Ramnu. That is why I strive to record and appreciate such details here on this blog.

Laure and his companions have not yet entered the Cloud Universe and, although I have posted about that strange spatial region before, I expect to find more material for posting on this further rereading.

Yet Another Unusual Planet

Poul Anderson, "Starfog" IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 709-794 AT pp. 746-748.

The planet had been a subjovian with an atmosphere of hydrohelium and methane, a shell of ice and other frozen gases and a core, orbiting a bright star at a distance of a billion and a half kilometers;

an abnormal infall of cosmic material hastened the star's evolution, taking it off the main sequence;

the star swelled, cooled to red and destroyed its inner planets;

on the outer planets, atmospheres were lost, ice melted, oceans boiled and vapor escaped as the star pulsated;

the former subjovian is now an Earth-sized metallic and rock ball;

the removal of the top layers had released powerful tectonic forces, creating mountains, some now eroded, others still craggy;

between the mountains is a cratered stone plain;

the sun is immense and blue with a ruddy atmosphere;

another newly condensed star, as bright as a hundred Sols, impossible to view directly, passes close enough to show a disk;

the Cloud Universe is also overhead - an enormous sphere of light with a visible fringe of thousands of stars, red, gold, emerald and sapphire, fading and vanishing into the soft, pervasive glow of a nacreous luminosity, the titular "Starfog."

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Bible And Merseia

Graydal of Kirkasant sounds like the Bible, then like a Merseian. How does she manage this?

She says:

"'Let the past tend the past...We've tomorrow to hunt in.'" (p. 731) (For full reference, see here.)

Jesus said:

"Let the dead bury the dead." (See here.)

Merseians say:

"'Hunt well.'
"'Hunt well.'"
-Poul Anderson, Ensign Flandry IN Anderson, Young Flandry (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 1-192 AT CHAPTER TEN, p. 92.

And that is all that I can manage at a quarter to midnight after driving back from the Station Hotel. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow." (See here.)

The Station Hotel And Gnarly Trees

Shortly, Sheila and I will drive to the Station Hotel, Caton, to meet Kevin, Joan, John and Fiona for a meal. Meanwhile, let me leave this question for Poul Anderson fans: on how many Andersonian planets are there "gnarly trees"? (Scroll down.)

I have posted about some but am sure that there are more. Were there some on Gwydion? I find a phrase in one work by Anderson and think that I remember reading it in others. It is not always possible to know which words or phrases to note when reading through a novel or short story.

Tomorrow, we - or at least I - will continue to reread the rich text of "Starfog," to be followed by the rich text of "A Tragedy of Errors." We have come to the end of the Technic History but skipped over some installments en route so might turn back to reassess those.

After that, who knows?

Cosmic Interference III

"Cosmic interference seethed across his radio voice..." (p. 746) (For full reference, see here.)

"The star noise in his receivers was like surf and fire." (ibid.)

Both surf and fire!


Cosmic Interference
Cosmic Interference II
Dry Cosmic Hiss

This cosmic background is common to works of hard sf, whichever fictional future they are set in.

Space explorers move through this inhospitable and uninhabitable vacuum full of lethal radiation yet remain comfortable, e.g., in the saloon of Daven Laure's ship with draperies, music, perfumes, animations and form-fitting furniture. (p. 738) Having evolved in a particular planetary environment, human beings must take that environment with them when they travel through space. Almost anywhere else, we would die instantly. Although - many extrasolar planets are being discovered so maybe some are terrestroid and as yet uninhabited.

Culture And Instinct

Graydal, Kirkasanter navigator and daughter of the captain, asks Laure:

"'...did I miscomprehend? Are there truly women among you who do not bear children?'" (p. 743) (For full reference, see here.)

On Kirkasant, mortality was so high that the need to reproduce became an instinct and has remained an imperative although the planet has become crowded.

I was taught that marriage was instituted by God for the two purposes of mutual support and raising children. Now I believe that it was instituted by men for the purpose of  bequeathing property to identifiable legitimate male heirs. The family as a social institution has changed throughout history and can be expected to change even more in the future - depending on what else happens, of course. If society regresses, then so will its norms and institutions but, with continued technological progress and economic freedom, many alternative life-styles will be viable.

The Kirksanters must reproduce and are no longer interfertile with other branches of humanity...


A big part of my childhood was The Lone Ranger although I preferred the fight scenes in The Range Rider. The Lone Ranger had a neat origin story. A group of Texas Rangers was ambushed, shot and left for dead but one survived and became the anonymous "Lone Ranger" to avenge the others. He could have been any of them.

Although I liked Westerns, I preferred sf and therefore noticed when the word "Rangers" recurred among "spacemen." Isaac Asimov wrote David Starr, Space Ranger, Andre Norton wrote Star Rangers and Rangers also appear in comics (also here).

Not having read every "Rangers" story, I must not generalize too much. However, I am fairly confident that Poul Anderson's Rangers of the Commonalty are among the best of the science fictional "Rangers." They deserve their own series including an installment about an expedition to Old Earth but, unfortunately, "Starfog" remained one of the several proto-series in Poul Anderson's Technic History.