Friday, 28 November 2014


Manuel Argos based his Terran Empire on the Roman Empire which, according to Virgil's Aeneid, succeeded Troy. This is why, when listing "Historical Achievements" here, I started with Dardanus, the mythical founder, as I thought, of Troy. Reading further here, I find that Dardanus is said to have founded Dardania and his great-grandson, Ilus, to have founded Ilion, which is Troy. (Because Ilion is Troy, Homer's first epic, set during the siege of Troy, is called the Iliad.) However, the words "Trojans" and "Troad" had already originated from the name of Dardanus' grandson, Tros. In any case, Dardanus is a grand progenitor, especially since he is a son of Zeus.

My list of "Historical Achievements" is, of course, mostly mythical, legendary and fictitious although it crosses over with history in the person of Augustus.

I mention all this because Dominic Flandry also makes a connection with Troy:

"He had not been truthful in claiming indifference whether he lived or died: not while a supple young woman stood clad in sunlight, and blooded horses stamped on the ringing plains of Ilion, and smoke curled fragrant about coffee and cognac on Earth. But half the pleasure came from these things being staked against darkness."
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 318.

Maybe heroes of this kind of fiction are obliged to think like this? But here I differ from Flandry. I derive no pleasure from our civilization being staked against darkness. If civilization could be made secure, then there would still be many intellectual and other challenges to stretch our abilities. Risking death is not my idea of a good time although, of course, we enjoy reading about Bond and Flandry doing precisely that.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I think you were unfair to Dominic Flandry in your last paragraph above. He was staking his LIFE, not the existence/survival of the Empire in his adventures. More exactly, Flandry risked his life at times and places where he believed doing so would benefit the Empire if he succeeded. I also point out that Flandry would far rather be a field agent than to spend his career in staff or administrative work. I remember Kitt Kittiridge criticizing Admiral Fenross in WE CLAIM THESE STARS for deliberately sending Flandry on dangerous and he protested that he PREFERRED those dangerous jobs.

True, by the later years of Emperor Han's reign Flandry had "transitioned" to precisely that kind of staff/administrative/advisory work. But that was because by the time of THE GAME OF EMPIRE Flandry really was getting too old and high ranking for field work.

It's my view that some people truly are best used for dangerous jobs. And in a tough and perilous world and universe, we will NEED people who are able to do such jobs. So, yes, I hope the UK/US now and perhaps, who knows, a Terran Empire of the future will have their own James Bonds and Dominic Flandrys.


Paul Shackley said...

There IS a difference between, on the one hand, Flandry staking his life and his enjoyment of civilization against the darkness and, on the other hand, someone staking civilization against the darkness - although I think that currently we are collectively doing the latter right now.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Generally, you need the TOP leaders in a civilization or great power to be able to stake their society's future in the way you described. And it's my view President Obama is precisely one of those bungling fools whose incompetence endangers all of us. I only need to point out the drastic increase in chaos (an evocative word!) all around the world precisely because of Obama's weakness and incompetence.

As for the "collective" bit, I kinda agree. The LONGER we take to get off this rock in a REAL way by settling the Moon, sending expeditions to Mars, the asteroid belt, etc., the worse it will be for us. Let me bring back to your attention Poul Anderson's brief but excellent essay "Commentary" in SPACE FOLK, explaining why we need a real space program.