Thursday, 30 January 2014


In Poul Anderson's "Interloper" IN Anderson, Fantasy (New York, 1981):

long ago, maybe in the Archaeozoic, there was a common origin for "ordinary" life and another kind thriving in darkness and seeing by infra-red but unable to bear actinic light;

the difference is metabolic, not chemical;

the two kinds are mutually digestible but cannot interbreed;

nocturnal life evolved a telepathic humanoid species, the Alfar (Anderson uses " telepath..." as a verb (p. 191));

the nocturnal metabolism involves high rates of both anabolism and catabolism, entailing centuries of life but also rapid decay after death, leaving few or no fossils;

the nocturnals cannot compete with ordinary life which endures both day and night and reproduces faster;

the Alfar are declining and nearly all other nocturnal animals are extinct;

silver, iron and other metals catalyze rapid proteolysis and oxidation of Alfar tissues;

neolithic and Iron Age humanity drove out the Alfar and destroyed their cities;

the Alfar now hide in wastelands;

the last Alfar-human encounter was three hundred years ago;

the Alfar king is Oberon - was that last encounter with William Shakespeare (who died a little more than three hundred years before the publication of "Interloper")? 

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