Friday, 3 October 2014

Ridenour And The Arulian

John Ridenour conducts a curious interview. First, his interviewee and he are of different species. Secondly, neither is a native of Freehold, the planet where the interview is conducted. The blond-haired, hatchet-faced interviewer is from Earth, here known by its Latin name, Terra, whereas the blue-feathered, sharp-snouted interviewee is from Aruli, which he calls "Eternal Aruli." -Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 12. Thirdly, neither speaks the other's language. However, both are fluent in the principle language of another space-traveling race, the Merseians, although the Arulian has difficulty with some Eriau phonemes.

To summarize, a Terrestrial interviews an Arulian in Eriau on Freehold. Thus, the Earthman interacts in different ways with three other planets. Might such colorful cultural combinations occur in our future? Yes, if, like Ridenour, we inhabit "...a universe that produces sophonts as casually as it produces snowflakes." (p. 7) But I doubt that. If it were true, then the extinction of a rational species, although tragic, would not be as great a tragedy as if that species were the only intelligent race in existence.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

The only sure way to find out if non human rational races are as common in this real universe as they are in the Technic History series would be by mankind GOING to the stars and finding out. Unless, of course, we make contact, one way or another, with non humans before then. Poul Anderson's IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS? is directly relevant to this question (plus Michael A.D. Michaud's more recent book CONTACT WITH ALIEN CIVILIZATIONS).

Also, I disagree with the last sentence of this blog piece. First, I think you were a bit unclear, there are two ways an intelligent race might go extinct: either by simply dying out or by being exterminated by a hostile power. The Chereioites would seem to be an example of the first while the Merseians, infamously, were willing to contemplate deliberately exterminating the human race (and by extension, other races who seriously annoyed them).

Moreover, it says something good about the Terran Empire that it saved the two intelligent races of Starkad from extinction before its sun Saxo went nova. That alone would atone for many sins! And, if that had not happened, then neither would a Tigery had been so instrumental in thwarting Merseian designs in THE GAME OF EMPIRE. What it means is that the Empire was not casually blase about any races going extinct/exterminated, but saved those whom it could.

In other words, to the Empire, one race was as valuable as any other intelligent species. Which means the Empire, for all its decadence in Flandry's time, and lapses like Snelund's governorship and Brae, was more moral than the smugly sanctimonious Roidhunate.