Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Few Miscellaneous Remarks

In Poul Anderson's and Gordon Dickson's Earthman's Burden (New York, 1979) -

"The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch" (1951) shows Jones arriving on Toka as an ensign whereas "In Hoc Signo Vinces" (1953) shows him installed as plenipotentiary to that planet. "Don Jones" (1957), apparently written for the collection, fills in the gap by describing the Hokas' visit to Earth and Jones' appointment as plenipotentiary.

When the narrative refers to the "...beady eyes..." (p. 20) of a Hoka, it is difficult to avoid the impression that Jones is conversing with animated toys, literal "teddy bears," rather than with organisms.

"In Hoc Signo Vinces" (1953) shares some features with Anderson's The High Crusade: because they do not know any better, primitives defeat an interstellar imperial power.

"The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound" (1953) advances the story by showing Jones after nearly ten years as plenipotentiary to Toka.

"'...the leader, known as Number Ten...'

"'Why not Number One?' asked Alex.

"'Ppusjans count rank from the bottom up.'" (p. 94)

This could be a comment on British political procedures. The Prime Minister, head of the government, always lives in 10, Downing St, London, near Parliament. Thus, the phrase "Number Ten" can, in appropriate contexts, mean the office of the person who is currently the Queen's first minister - not the tenth!

I look forward to reading the rest of this Holmesian story about the "Misplaced Hound." 


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I still well remembered how much pleasure the stories in EARTHMAN'S BURDEN gave me when I first read them in 1971. I read that book over and over during the next few years. And one bit from "Sheriff of Canyon Gulch" which stuck in my mind as esp. funny was the dismay felt by Ens. Jones was finding a book about how races under ward by the Interbeing League should be treated (he had wanted a manual of advice on how to survive after crash landing).

Btw, any thoughts about the Interbeing League and its system of "warding" more primitive races? I was esp. amused by the quote from Adalbert Parr's manual relating how the USA "acceded" to joining the British Commonwealth!


Paul Shackley said...

I suspect that, in the past, "warding" or civilizing "primitives" has been a cloak for exploiting them but hopefully the League will have gone beyond that.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Any half way decent interstellar society will take SOME steps to prevent or punish at least the grosser abuses inflicted by the unscrupulous on less technologically advanced races. Anyway, I thought the bureaucratic "interludes" between the Hoka stories were funny too.