Sunday, 29 June 2014

Return To Avalon III

Does this ANALOG cover show an Ythrian as not only feathered and winged but also beaked, like a bird? If so, it is wrong. (IMPORTANT: see comments.) A human lecturer, describing the Ythrians' immediate evolutionary ancestor, says:

"'The animal did not, however, further ease its burdens by trading teeth for a beak.'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 483.

And, of the Ythrians themselves:

"'...they do not have beaks, but lips and teeth.'" (pp. 479-480)

Poul Anderson imagined two winged species, Ythrians and Diomedeans, so different from each other that, in a later period, it is unrealistic for Diomedean dissidents to think that the Domain of Ythri will come to their aid simply because of some supposed fellow feeling between winged beings.

Why must Domain and Empire fight? Tabitha Falkayn says:

"'If [the Terrans] want more realm, they can find it closer to home, suns they've never visited...'" (p. 468)

- a point that I made in a recent post. The Imperial governor of Sector Pacis says that most violent border incidents were started by Ythrians because they are natural predators without any restraining government. This sounds like an issue that could have been settled by negotiation with Ythri through the mediation of Avalon. However, the governor also mentions wider political and military issues:

Ythri has gained power by incorporating Dathyna;
either realm could gain power by incorporating Beta Centauri (visited, we may or may not remember, by the Founder of the Avalonian colony);
Merseia is growing and aggressive.

On this last point, we know, from reading the rest of the series, that the governor is right to anticipate Merseian aggression just as Daniel Holm and Ferune on Avalon are right to anticipate Terran aggression. The governor has requested and received " Imperial rescript declaring war on Ythri..." (p. 477).


Mark said...

Give Leo Summers some credit - here is a link to a clearer reproduction of the Analog cover and the Ythrian sentry does sport a pair of smacking red lips.

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you. I looked at the image the wrong way and thought that the crest was a beak pointing up!