Monday, 20 October 2014

Prince Rupert And Other Matters

Today we visited the City and Cathedral of Lichfield, where I learned something of interest to readers of Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest. On 7 April 1643, Prince Rupert, leading three thousand troops, attacked the Parliamentarians in the Cathedral Close. The Cavaliers mounted artillery to the north of the Close where one site is still called Prince Rupert's Mound. Rupert's force drove out the Parliamentarians.

I have made some additions to the Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments blog and also to a recent post, "Stepping Stones And Patterns." (See here.) I have finished rereading "The Trouble Twisters" and will shortly try to summarize its complicated political situation. Basically, what van Rijn needs on any planet is a stable civilization to trade with. When Falkayn, negotiating on Ikrananka, learns that human soldiers working for the local Emperor have on Imperial orders conquered a city but have then held the city and declared themselves independent, he, Falkayn, offers to use his superior fire power (without killing anyone) to end the human resistance.

Thus, he is not automatically loyal to members of his own species. But he offers them a fair deal as well. Too acclimatized to Ikrananka, after living there for generations, to return to the technological civilization of Earth, the "Ershokh" (human beings) can remain on Ikranka where they can continue to work as soldiers but now armed by the League to guard the proliferating trade routes. This sounds like another example of van Rijn's "My making a reasonable profit is beneficial to all concerned" philosophy. (I may have already summarized this situation sufficiently.)

If Falkayn, now a Master of the Polesotechnic League and leader of van Rijn's first trade pioneer team, had not secured a deal and had even had to be rescued by a relief expedition, then he would neither have earned a commission nor have continued to lead a team. He must continue to excel. But eventually he becomes van Rijn's confidante and grandson-in-law despite breaking his oath of fealty at a crucial historical turning point.

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