Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mirkheim, Chapter I

In my edition of Poul Anderson's Mirkheim (London, 1978), the pagination starts, as it should, on the first page of the text, not earlier. Thus, the extended, nine part, Prologue occupies pp. 1-22 and Chapter I begins on p. 23.

As always, Anderson instantly immerses his readers in a detailed, well realized, future. The pontoon city, Delfinburg, slowly crosses the Philippine Sea. Above the streets of the pleasure district, at the starboard edge of a leading pontoon, the roof garden of Gondwana House presents views of both city and ocean. By day, the ocean ahead is often crowded with boats. At night, there are lights from fish herders and, in the tropics, from ships pumping minerals up to the plankton beds.

In the garden, flowers and shrubs surround the dance floor where the live orchestra plays music of the Classical Revival. The Falkayns retire to an offside bar, then to a secluded place at the outer rail. We learn that Coya's several years of membership of the trader team have begun and ended between the Prologue and Chapter I and that both have retired because the example of an older, more hedonistic generation has shown them that children need stability.

We learn that war might soon break out, as we did on the first page of The People Of The Wind. There is no better way to communicate a sense of urgency at the beginning of a novel. In response, van Rijn is re-assembling the old team...

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