Sunday, 18 February 2018

Four Senses On St. Li In Oronesia

"A full Morgana lifted from eastward waters. Its almost unblemished shield dazzled the vision with whiteness, so that what stars could be seen shone small and tender. That light ran in a quaking glade from horizon to outermost breakers, whose heads it turned into wan fire; the dunes glowed beneath it, the tops of the trees which made a shadow-wall to left became hoar."
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT Chapter XIII, pp. 587-588.

Lots of light words. The passage continues -

Three Other Senses
"There was no wind and the surf boomed steadily and inwardly, like a heartbeat. Odors of leaf and soil overlay a breath of sea. The sands gave back the day's warmth and gritted a little as they molded themselves sensuously to the bare foot."

Multi-sensory, sensuous and appropriate since Tabitha and Philippe walk along the beach to make love in a sheltered headland with soft Terran grass.

More On Andersonian Chess

See "Andersonian Chess" by Sean M. Brooks here.

In the Technic History:

(i) human explorers play chess on Lucifer in "The Problem of Pain";

(ii) Max Abrams and Runei the Wanderer play chess in Ensign Flandry;

(iii) a consciousness-level computer plays chess with itself in A Circus Of Hells;

(iv) Dominic Flandry and Ydwyr the Seeker play chess also in A Circus Of Hells;

(v) men on Unan Besar play chess in "A Plague of Masters";

(vi) Flandry and Catherine Kittredge play chess in "Hunters of the Sky Cave";

(vii) Flandry compares life to chess in The Game Of Empire;

(viii) Tabitha Falkayn tells Philippe Rochefort that several Avalonian Ythrians would play chess with him in The People Of The Wind;

(ix) I thought that, in "Hunters of the Sky Cave," chess was played on a twenty meter square chess board with live girls but it is Go, not chess.

Ythri II

(Poul Anderson's "Wings of Victory" is not on the cover but is inside.)

Ythri has come a long way:

in "Wings of Victory," a spaceship of the Grand Survey discovers a planet inhabited by a species whose cultures are either Stone Age or Iron Age;

in The People Of The Wind, a space fleet of the Terran Empire defeats fleets of the Domain of Ythri and approaches the heavily defended home star, Quetlan.

We note that:

the High Wyvan of Ythri is called "Trauvay" as was an abode of the Ythrians in the Hesperian islands on Avalon (see here);

Admiral Cajal displays some moral sensibility:

"'I myself would appeal an order to open fire. Were it too draconian, I would resign. But His Majesty has many admirals.'"
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT p. 575.

Individual morality will not be allowed to defect Imperial might.

Killing Civilians II

See Killing Civilians.

Admiral Cajal tells High Wyvan Liaw and First Marchwarden Holm:

"'We'd hate to bombard your planet. Please don't compel us to.'"
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT Chapter X, p. 554.

Now that is going too far. No one can compel Cajal to bombard a planet. "The lesser evil"? If his Imperium orders him to bombard, then he should refuse, like another Anderson character. See High Treason.

The Avalonians even offer Cajal asylum if he fears court martial but, in the face of an order to bombard, the most moral course of action would be to attend and defy the court martial.

Holm comments:

"'Standard technique. Eliminate a space fleet, and its planet has to yield or you'll pound it into radioactive slag. Nice work for a man, that, hunh?'"

He assures the Admiral that Avalon, unable to counterattack "' bastards...,'" has built adequate defenses.

A bombardment that pounded a planet into radioactive slag would be genocide. Cajal's "lesser evil" defense of whatever he is ordered to do rings very hollow.

Inter-Species Amity

Ferune, Wyvan of Mistwood Choth, is dying from radiation poisoning sustained in the defense of Avalon. Daniel Holm, who will succeed Ferune as First Marchwarden of the Lauran System, kneels and lays his head on Ferune's keelbone.

"Wings enfolded the man and lips kissed him. 'I flew higher because of you,' Ferune said. 'If war allows, honor us by coming to my rite. Fair winds forever.'"
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT Chapter X, p. 551.

I was not sufficiently moved by this scene on previous readings.

Falkayns, Avalon And Flandry

In The Technic Civilization Saga, the seven volume complete edition of Poul Anderson's major future history series, the History of Technic Civilization, it is appropriate that, at the mid-point of the series, Volume III, Rise Of The Terran Empire, begins with Mirkheim and ends with The People Of The Wind and that Volume IV, Young Flandry, begins with Ensign Flandry:

in Mirkheim, because the political and economic systems, the Solar Commonwealth and the Polesotechnic League, have entered their terminal decline, David and Coya Falkayn plan to depart with their young family and to start again somewhere new;

in The People Of The Wind, centuries later, the colony founded by the Falkayns successfully resists annexation by the Terran Empire while the Merseian Roidhunate grows rapidly;

Ensign Flandry initiates a series in which, more centuries later, Dominic Flandry defends the Empire against the Roidhunate.

It is good that we see the outcome of the Flandry's efforts centuries later. The People Of The Wind is transitional between Mirkheim and Ensign Flandry. Philippe Rochefort is a precursor of Flandry although the latter would never have been tricked into passing disinformation back to his superiors.

An Amazing Text

I am amazed at how much it is possible to find in Poul Anderson's The People Of The Wind on what might be the fourth time that I have reread and posted about it. I still have over a hundred pages to go. Almost any word or phrase may be worthy of investigation. This time, I have become more aware of the Avalonian physical and social environments. A large ocean with many islands gives space for the freedom loved by winged Ythrians and by the human followers, descendants and successors of David Falkayn.

Like Mirkheim, this is a pivotal novel for the Technic History and has also invited comparison with Anderson's Time Patrol series. See Too Few.

Too Few

Admiral Cajal reflects:

"...Intelligence... the whole navy, the whole Empire... was spread too thin across a reach too vast, inhuman, hostile; in the end, perhaps all striving to keep the Peace of Man was barren."
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT Chapter IX, p. 546.

And Manse Everard often reflects that the Time Patrol has too few personnel to guard more than a million years of history.

In both series, intelligent beings strive to conserve order that they have won from chaos. The two series address the vastnesses of Space and Time, respectively.

Killing Civilians

Admiral Cajal commemts on the Avalonians:

"'God grant, more for their sakes than ours, mose especially for the sakes of innocent females and children of both races, God grant their leaders see reason and capitulate before we hurt them too badly.'"
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (Riverdale, NY, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT Chapter VIII, p. 526.

By "'...both races,'" he means not "their race and ours" but "the two intelligent species that have jointly colonized Avalon."

No, Cajal. If you hurt the Avalonians badly, killing innocent females and children, then you, not the Avalonian leaders, are responsible for the consequences of your actions. Civilian deaths are not just something that happen. They are something that you do. Attitudes and cultures can change rapidly:

"'...remember all the crap we went through in the war, keeping civilian casualties down? Even when it meant taking losses ourselves? the war John Rolfe fought they burned whole enemy cities to cinders and never thought twice about it; carpet-bombed targets in France, too, and if French civilians got caught in the middle - hard cheese, there's a war on. And they stuck the honorable Yasujiru's folks behind wire without a moment's hesitation.'" (pp. 197-198)
-copied from here.

Cajal referred to this war, in which he will kill civilians, as a "lesser evil."

(Yesterday, we visited the nearby village of Hornby to see snowdrops at the Castle (see image) and attend a book fair at the Institute. No sf, though.)

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Space Battle

Ansa launches Hooting Star, a small Meteor-class spaceship crewed by Philippe Rochefort, Abdullah Helu and Wa Chaou;

during a launch, the negagrav screen for that part of the mother ship has to be turned off and, in this case, a torpedo approaches but one of Wa Chaou's guns destroys it;

Hooting Star pursues the boat that had launched the torpedo;

Ansa and Ganymede try to saturate the defenses of a light battleship;

an energy beam from the enemy boat touches Hooting Star which veers automatically;

any hole caused by the beam is small enough to self-seal;

Rochefort sees the enemy and drives his ship at it;

two beams hit Hooting Star but Wa Chaou destroys their sources before they do serious damage;

Rochefort sees the symbol on the side of the Ythrian boat;

Wa Chaou destroys an Ythrian torpedo and Hooting Star's torp hits the Ythrian;

a fragment of the exploded boat hits Hooting Star;

meanwhile, the enemy battleship is destroyed.