Friday, 27 July 2012

The Queen Of Air And Darkness V

"The Queen Of Air And Darkness" in The Queen Of Air And Darkness and other stories (London, 1977).

Sherrinford points out that Rolander outwayers have books, telecommunications, power tools, motor vehicles and a scientific education so are not medieval crofters yet William Irons who cultivates native crops is convinced that human beings travel safely in the mountains only because the Queen of Air and Darkness made a pact with a man. Sherrinford later explains this discrepancy but meanwhile Poul Anderson blends elements of fantasy and sf into a single narrative.

Sherrinford speculates that Rolander natives began their science with biology. This makes them sound like the humanoid but alien race that tries to subvert humanity in Anderson's Star Ways/The Peregrine.

Telepathy works the same way here as in Anderson's Technic History. Each organism generates long wave radiation that can be modulated by the nervous system. When outside his screen, Sherrinford thinks in French, a language that the natives cannot have learned because English is the only human language used on Roland.

We know that the Outlings include "wraiths." Sherrinford's instruments detect organisms, including:

"Another...low temperature, diffuse and unstable emission, as if it were more like a...a swarm of cells coordinated somehow...hovering..." (p. 38)

Thus, a scientific analysis of a "wraith." 

Sherrinford tells Barbo that he switched on the screen, blocking the illusion and letting the bewitched human boy Mistherd see the natives not disguised as fairies but as they really were. We should have seen this but that important scene occurs off stage. We are separately told that they were "...lean, scaly, long-tailed, long-beaked..." but this is a mere summary (p. 46). Anderson has not made us see it. (Ray Bradbury's telepathic Martians pulled a similar stunt.)

I value this work more for its contribution to the Rustum History than for its own sf detective story.

No comments: