Monday, 17 November 2014

To Compare Great Things To Small

Sometimes a phrase in a short story contains an idea that is developed at greater length in a novel.

In "The Problem of Pain," the Ythrian Enherrian is puzzled when the Aenean Peter Berg buries his wife because:

"On Ythri they cast them from a great height into wilderness."
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 131.

And Ythrians still do this centuries later when they, together with a greater number of human beings, have colonized the planet that Enherrian and Berg were exploring. See here. A great height turns out to mean as high as Ythrians can fly.

In "How To Be Ethnic In One Easy Lesson," James Ching, hard at study, has told friends and colleagues that:

"...they shouldn't bother me about anything much less urgent than a rogue planet on a collision course." (p. 177)

A throwaway line. However, rogue planets play major roles in "A Sun Invisible," Satan's World and Ensign Flandry. In particular, in this third work, a rogue planet is on a collision course not indeed with Sol or Terra but with Saxo, the sun of the inhabited planet, Starkad. The consequences are such that they would make Ching think twice about making flippant remarks about rogue planets or collision courses...

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

The way Peter Berg buried his dead wife yet again reminded me of that mention of Emperor Georgios soon to be used tomb in ENSIGN FLANDRY. These are the ways most humans prefer to use their dead.

It's only fair to say that James Ching's flippant remark about rogue planets was uttered centuries and centuries before the Starkad affair. No one at that time could possibly have known how CRUCIAL that particular rogue turned out to be.