Friday, 27 July 2012

The Queen Of Air And Darkness II

The third section of  "The Queen Of Air And Darkness", in The Queen Of Air And Darkness and other stories (London, 1977), changes perspective again. An impersonal narrator, directly addressing the reader as "You...," discusses galactic distances and refers to "...stars in our neighborhood..." (p. 16).

This narrator imparts information consistent with the History of Rustum:

slower than light interstellar spaceships;
extrasolar colonists few but determined (indeed, earlier (p. 12), we had been told that such colonists hoped to preserve, e.g., a language, constitutional government or reason and technology - the Rustumites were rational-technological Constitutionalists);
suspended animation;
an Earth that has confirmed earlier fears by ceasing to launch interstellar craft.

However, there is a difference or, if we are still in the Rustumite timeline, there has been some progress. There are other extrasolar colonies and the oldest can now launch new interstellar craft. On the other hand, the vastness of interstellar distances and the slowness of interstellar travel are still major issues:

a colony might be visited two or three times a century;
colonial modernization and even survival are not guaranteed;
for example, although Roland is hospitable, its colonists cannot afford to construct elaborate machinery and are unable to spread to lower latitudes.

Anderson's description of Rolandic environmental extremes recall those in his Technic History, e.g., the planets Hermes and Vixen.

Each new section of this story warrants analysis so there will be more here.

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