Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Chapter XII: Introducing A Clan Sport

On Diomedes, Nicholas van Rijn changes society every time he needs to solve a practical problem. After introducing mass production, he has got the Flock to manufacture new weapons but -

Problem: the new weapons are too heavy to be carried long distance.
Proposal: weapons to be transported to the war zone by wind-powered train.
Problem: no wind.
Proposal: young warriors to pull the carts with ropes.
Problem: by very deep-rooted social custom and prejudice, free clan males never engage in sustained physical labor. (They are not aristocrats. Their society, unlike the Fleet's, has not divided that way yet.)
Proposal: each clan to pull a number of carts with a prize for the quickest: it's not labor; it's sport.

This appeals to the clans. Those smart enough to recognize semantics are also smart enough to keep quiet. Everyone wins? (Not in real life or elsewhere in this future history, they don't.)

I think that, just from habit, van Rijn can carry political lying too far. Although it is necessary to leave at once, he thinks it is politic to say:

it is not necessary to leave at once;
but we know you are eager to fight;
so let's play this small game!

That first statement is untrue but also unnecessary although, again, those smart enough to realize this are also smart enough not to say it.

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