Saturday, 30 March 2013
Cadet Loftus And Ensign Flandry
Blish's juvenile hero, the seventeen year old Jack Loftus, senior foreign service cadet in the department of the Secretary for Space, also contrasts with Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry of Terrestrial Imperial Space Intelligence, especially since we first meet the latter as a nineteen year old Ensign.
Jack has read magazine fiction in which:
a terrestrial representative fights alien hordes with a hand gun;
space fleets fight between stars;
abduction, assassination and incitement to insurrect are regular tactics.
In other words, he seems to have read the Flandry series! In fact, it is possible that thirty seven years hence, Jack, due to be born in 2033, will read magazines of classic sf reprinting Poul Anderson.
Jack's temporary mentor, Dr Langer, comments, " 'Utter nonsense...' " (p. 49) and explains that:
space fleets would be unable to intercept each other or to fight if they met by chance but would each destroy the enemy's home planet, solving nothing;
" 'The essence of interstellar diplomacy is to make friends, not enemies.' " (p. 50)
This is indeed a direct reply to Heinlein but is also relevant to Flandry, though not, of course, to the entire range of Anderson's works.
Regular blog viewers might have noticed that I am trying simultaneously both to express my appreciation of James Blish's works and to hold the attention of those who prefer to read about Anderson! To me, it makes sense to read them together. Their main, though not their only, similarity is the precise combination of scientific information, extrapolation and speculation in their hard sf.
Also in their hard sf, each notably goes intergalactic for two volumes - Anderson, World Without Stars and Tau Zero; Blish, Earthman, Come Home and The Triumph Of Time.