Monday, 30 June 2014

Terran Naval Funeral Services

In The Rebel Worlds, Flandry as captain must read the service at the burial of one of his men. Although he thinks, "But I never believed -...," he is handed the prayerbook and must do what is expected.

"His fingers stained the page as he read aloud the majestic words."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 444.

We are not told the words although we imagine an English language naval or military funeral. Flandry would have been reading Anglic, which is descended from English.

Earlier in the History, Philippe Rochefort, a Jerusalem Catholic, and Abdullah Helu, a Muslim, had buried Wa Chaou, a Cynthian. Rochefort reads the service:

"'- Father, unto You in what form he did dream You, we commit this being, our comrade; and we pray that You grant him rest, even as we pray for ourselves. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.'"
- Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 543.

Here we have a monotheist liturgy broadened or diluted enough to include as many beings as possible while still remaining at least nominally monotheist. This recalls some later words of reassurance rounding off the radio announcement of an insurrection:

"'Stand by. The Divine, in whatever form It manifests itslf to you, the Divine is with us.'"
- Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 261.

This Divine is impersonal, "It," not "You." Of course, we must each seek and find, not letting any regime tell us what we believe.

Gorzun And Esperance

Previously, I discussed Gorzuni in the periods of Nicholas van Rijn, Manuel Argos and Dominic Flandry. At least one more Gorzun is mentioned in the period of the Terran War on Avalon, which is intermediate between the periods of Argos and Flandry. The governor and the admiral's daughter:

"...paced along graveled paths and talked. They were guarded, which is to say discretely chaperoned. However, no duenna followed several paces behind, but a huge four-armed Gorzunian mercenary on whom the nuances of a flirtation would be lost."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York 2011), pp. 471-472.

The governor soon learns that a flirtation is out of the question as Luisa quizzes him about why he wants war with Ythri. They are on Esperance, "...a prize among colony planets..." (p. 471), where transplanted rosebushes and cherry trees grow as if on Earth. We read of Esperance once before, in "Territory." Nicholas van Rijn was on T'Kela to make a profit whereas Joyce Davisson was there as part of a mission implementing the Esperancian foreign policy of helping other races in order to gain their goodwill and thus build strength without having to maintain armed services. She is part of an Esperancian organization called the Commonalty - which just happens to have the same names as a much later interstellar service organization.

This history explains why there are anti-war demonstrations in the Esperancian capital city, Fleurville, as the Terran Fleet gathers nearby to attack the Domain of Ythri.

Ythrian Society Is Not A Civilization

Ythrians are winged carnivores but intelligent. The flapping of their wings pumps enough oxygen into their veins to generate the energy needed to lift bodies capable of intelligence in Earth-like gravity. Each Ythrian family needs territory for hunting or herding. The sexes are equal. Parents are bonded by care of children who cling to them in flight, not by sex, which is only when they are in heat.

Their Stone Age was ended not by agriculture but by herding and domestication. Agriculture developed later for fodder. Later, larger, more complex social units are not civilizations because winged Ythrians have never needed cities. Sedentary centers for specific purposes, like mining, industry, trade or religion, are small with floating populations. Since contact with Terrans, machines have mostly replaced wing-clipped slaves while, simultaneously, the Empire reintroduces slavery.

Families are grouped in "choths", diverse in size, organization and tradition. All free adults can participate in democratic meetings called "Khruaths" but the only way to enforce a Khruath decision, if enforcement becomes necessary, is for the presiding officers, the Wyvans, to cry Oherran, calling on everyone in the territory to attack the defiers of the decision. Oherran is a deathpride matter. Wyvans whose call of Oherran is rejected have no honorable course but suicide.

A Falkayn And A Rochefort

"29th Century A descendant of Falkayn and an ancestor of Flandry cross paths."
-Sandra Miesel, "Chronology of Technic Civilization" IN Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 663-672 AT p. 667.

Tabitha Falkayn not only is called Falkayn but also is explicitly stated to be "'...a descendant of David Falkayn.'" (p. 466)

Philippe Rochefort is certainly a predecessor and precursor of Dominic Flandry but how can it be known that he is an ancestor? Like Falkayn, he enjoys life and female company, is in the Terran Navy and:

"...stretched to the limit the tolerance granted officers as regards their dress uniforms - rakishly tilted bonnet..." etc (p. 487).

He becomes inadvertently involved in the gathering and conveyance of intelligence when he is captured and escapes. Unlike Flandry, he is a Jerusalem Catholic who takes his belief seriously. After the war, he does not remain on Avalon with Tabitha but returns to Terra so it is at least possible that he is among Flandry's ancestors but, if this had been Anderson's intention, it could have been made clearer.

How Ythrians Fight In Space

(This cover illustration definitely has a wrong detail: a beaked Ythrian.)

The Avalonian torpedo launcher, Three Stars, is similar to a Terran Meteor but has to be slightly bigger than its adversary, the Meteor Hooting Star, because:

an Ythrian cannot bear to be enclosed in a spacesuit even when flying a combat ship whose hull may be breached so Three Stars needs a thicker hull (Ythrians are People of the Wind but not of the Void);

Ythrians need space to spread their wings in order to pump oxygen into their blood (necessary not for breathing but certainly for remaining alert and combat ready);

Three Stars is crewed by five Ythrians whereas Hooting Star has only two human beings and one Cynthian (regular readers will know that arboreal, squirrel-like Cynthians are small).

Three Stars disables Hooting Star, killing the Cynthian. Hooting Star surrenders but Three Stars is destroyed by friendly fire from Avalon. Hooting Star crash lands on Avalon where one of the remaining crew is killed on the surface. Casualties: seven of eight beings and two spacecraft. But there is a lot more destruction in the rest of the battle.

Literature

(This cover illustration looks like Rochefort attacked by an Ythrian.)

Ferune, Wyvan of Mistwood Choth on Avalon and First Marchwarden of the Lauran System, reads:

"...Terran classics...in three original languages, for enjoyment."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 454.

In the command bridge of his superdreadnaught, Hell Rock, before battle, he remembers:

"The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion; whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul." (p. 519)

When he sees Morgana, the moon of Avalon, moving around the dark side of the planet, he murmurs, "Oh moon of my delight that knows no wane -" (p. 526).

We would like to hear more from Ferune but he dies in this conflict. Anderson not only quotes Terran classics but also transposes the alliterative verse form into Planha, which Arinnian translates into Anglic:

"Blind in the black of clawing cloudbanks,
"wins he his way, though slowly,
"breaks their barrier, soars in sunlight.
"High is heaven and holy." (p. 452)

And that last quoted line concludes the novel:

"Snowpeaks flamed. The sun stood up in a shout of light.
"High is heaven and holy." (p. 662)

Sometimes, we forget space battles and enjoy Poul Anderson's use of the English language.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Terran Naval Craft

Poul Anderson refers to classes of Terran Naval spaceships as though they were familiar to the reader. The smallest is a Meteor, for example the Hooting Star with its crew of three:

a Lieutenant (j.g.) from Terra as its captain-pilot;
a CPO from Cynthia as its fire control officer;
a CPO from Huy Braseal as its engineer-computerman.

(A Terran, an alien and a colonial.)

"A Meteor was designed for high acceleration under both relativistic and hyperdrive conditions; for accurate placement of nuclear-headed torpedoes; and for no more comfort than minimally necessary to the continued efficiency of personnel."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 479.

Vodan of Stormgate Choth, defending Avalon, will proudly fight in:

"'One of the new torpedo launchers, rather like a Terran Meteor, hai, a beauty, a spear. Proud I was to emblazon her hull with three golden stars.'" (p. 506)

- in honor of his betrothed, whose Planha name "Eyath" means "Third Star." The Hooting Star and the Three Stars will have a fatal meeting.

"...the Planet-class cruisers Thor and Ansa..." are said to "mother...Comet- and Meteor-class boats..." (p. 477). Thus, Comets are intermediate between Planets and Meteors whereas a Nova class dreadnaught is "...monstrous as a mountain..." -Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 266.

So do the Terrans have any class of ship other than Nova, Planet, Comet or Meteor? Maybe. The Valenderay is a "...superdreadnaught..." -Rise, p. 514.

Addendum: Valenderay is a Supernova. -Rise, p. 531.

Return To Avalon III

Does this ANALOG cover show an Ythrian as not only feathered and winged but also beaked, like a bird? If so, it is wrong. (IMPORTANT: see comments.) A human lecturer, describing the Ythrians' immediate evolutionary ancestor, says:

"'The animal did not, however, further ease its burdens by trading teeth for a beak.'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 483.

And, of the Ythrians themselves:

"'...they do not have beaks, but lips and teeth.'" (pp. 479-480)

Poul Anderson imagined two winged species, Ythrians and Diomedeans, so different from each other that, in a later period, it is unrealistic for Diomedean dissidents to think that the Domain of Ythri will come to their aid simply because of some supposed fellow feeling between winged beings.

Why must Domain and Empire fight? Tabitha Falkayn says:

"'If [the Terrans] want more realm, they can find it closer to home, suns they've never visited...'" (p. 468)

- a point that I made in a recent post. The Imperial governor of Sector Pacis says that most violent border incidents were started by Ythrians because they are natural predators without any restraining government. This sounds like an issue that could have been settled by negotiation with Ythri through the mediation of Avalon. However, the governor also mentions wider political and military issues:

Ythri has gained power by incorporating Dathyna;
either realm could gain power by incorporating Beta Centauri (visited, we may or may not remember, by the Founder of the Avalonian colony);
Merseia is growing and aggressive.

On this last point, we know, from reading the rest of the series, that the governor is right to anticipate Merseian aggression just as Daniel Holm and Ferune on Avalon are right to anticipate Terran aggression. The governor has requested and received "...an Imperial rescript declaring war on Ythri..." (p. 477).

Return To Avalon II

What does this mean?

"'I'm afraid we've no time for gaiety...We've walking weather ahead.'
"'Indeed?'
"'The Empire's about to expand our way.'" (my emphasis)
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT p. 467.

Walking weather? The speakers, Christopher Holm/Arinnian and Tabitha Falkayn/Hrill, are human beings but each of them is also a member of a choth. Choths are social organizations of the winged Ythrians. Many of the human beings who share the colony planet Avalon with Ythrians have joined choths. Thus, these "bird-humans" are under choth law and custom, not human law, even though there is a Parliament of Man on Avalon, and, lacking wings, they fly with anti-gravity belts. Thus, "walking weather" must mean "weather too bad to fly in"?

Tabitha uses other bird talk:

"'...a man or woman who tries to be an Ythrian is a rattlewing.'" (p. 502)

"'Can't have it on both wings, son.'" (p. 504)

"'How blows your wind?'" (p. 506)

But when Chris, who is very Ythrianized, asks her why she speaks Anglic to him, she replies:

"'We are humans, you and I. We haven't the feathers to use Planha as it ought to be used. Why do you mind?'" (p. 500)

The intricate Ythrian feathers are so closely connected to muscles and nerve endings that "...their movements constituted a whole universe of expression forever denied to man.'" (p. 455)

When First Marchwarden Ferune of Mistwood Choth addressed Second Marchwarden Daniel Holm in Planha:

"Irritation, fret, underlying anger and dismay, rippled across his body." (ibid.)

His "...rippling 'reminder' note..." accompanied by a quirking of "...certain feathers..." (p. 459) is equivalent to an Anglic sentence. When he says, "'Walkers,'" (p. 462) this reminds Holm that, although many human beings have joined choths, some Ythrians have adopted the human lifestyle of atomic individuals in a global community. (Not participating in choths, do they instead vote, or run for election, in the Parliament?)

When Ferune adds, "'Influence,'" (ibid.) this alone is enough to remind Holm that many Avalonian Ythrians resent human influence and that this might be what makes them more reactionary than any on Ythri. Finally, since Ythrians have always hunted and still hunt live prey and regard their own deaths as God the Hunter stooping on them, Ferune comments, "'...we don't catch time in any net.'" (ibid.)

Return to Avalon

In accordance with the current practice of moving around mentally within Poul Anderson's Technic History, I am again rereading The People Of The Wind, a novel set on the human-Ythrian colony planet, Avalon. For previously recorded information about this planet, please see here.

There remain plenty of details to discuss in The People Of The Wind. What a different place from the early Dominic Flandry stories, although they are in the same future history. I was puzzled by this sentence, in the Technic Civilization Saga omnibus edition:

"Behavior grossly harmful to the physical or social environment must be enjoined..." (my emphasis)
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT p. 498.

Fortunately, I had bought all the installments of the History before it was collected into uniform editions:

"Behavior grossly harmful to the physical or social environment must be forbidden..." (my emphasis)
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind (London, 1977), p. 56.

That makes more sense.

Among the winged, carnivorous Ythrians, "...the Khruath [was] a periodic gathering of all free adults in a given territory who cared to come. It had judicial and limited legislative authority..."
Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 497.

This arrangement works for Ythrians, although not for human beings, because the former are less talkative, less interfering, less easily bullied and less crowded. "...on Terra...a version of it appeared once, long ago, and failed bloodily." (ibid.)

I thought that I knew which historical example Anderson meant but, on reflection, I am not sure.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Future Histories

A British future history is a fictitious historical text book:

The Shape Of Things To Come by HG Wells
Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon

- whereas an American future history is a series of stories and novels set in successive periods of a fictitious timeline:

The Future History by Robert Heinlein
The Psychotechnic History by Poul Anderson
The Technic History by Poul Anderson
The Known Space History by Larry Niven

I am now convinced that:

Anderson's Technic History is the best written, most substantial and comprehensive, American future history;
a single volume British model future history could be written to cover the entire contents of the Technic History in Wellsian or Stapledonian style.

The Technic History divides into two major parts with further subdivisions.

(I) From "The Saturn Game" to The People Of The Wind

This corresponds to seven volumes of normal length, four novels and three collections, and comprises Volumes I-III of the Baen Books omnibus Technic Civilization Saga. After early periods of interplanetary and interstellar exploration, this part of the History covers:

(i) the Polesotechnic League period interpreted from several perspectives, including the non-human perspective of Ythrians on Avalon during the later period of the early Terran Empire;
(ii) the history of those Ythrians until the time, immediately after the Terran War on Avalon, when Hloch of Stormgate Choth compiled the Earth Book Of Stormgate, a volume beginning with the human discovery of Ythri during the Grand Survey and ending with human-Ythrian colonization of Avalon during the decline of the League.

Twelve installments of the Technic History with introductions and a conclusion added by Hloch comprise the Earth Book. Unfortunately, we do not read any of the companion volume, The Sky Book Of Stormgate, compiled by Rennhi, Hloch's mother. However, a British style future historian would be able to discuss the Sky Book's contents, at least speculatively.

(II) From Ensign Flandry to "Starfog"

This corresponds to ten volumes of normal length, seven novels and three collections, and comprises Volumes IV-VII of the Technic Civilization Saga. This part of the History covers:

(i) the Terran Empire during the lifetime of Dominic Flandry;
(ii) some information about three post-Imperial periods.

As Hloch looks back on the Polesotechnic League, a later Galactic Archaeological Society looks back on the First Empire. A British future historian of Technic Civilization would have to discuss:

violent global unrest in the twenty first century;
recovery due to resources and energy from space;
exploration of the Solar System;
twenty second century hyperdrive and extrasolar colonization;
the conditions that generated the Polesotechnic League;
the reasons for its decline;
the collapse of the Solar Commonwealth;
the Baldic League;
the founding of the Terran Empire;
several attempted usurpations in Flandry's time, one of them successful;
Chunderban Desai's theory of the decline of Empires (but see comments);
the little that is known about the actual Falls of the Terran Empire and of its rival, the Merseian Roidhunate;
five subsequent periods -
the Long Night;
the Allied Planets;
the spread of humanity through several spiral arms, including one civilization served by the Commonalty;
the Second and any subsequent Empires;
the galactic civilization in which there is a Galactic Archaeological Society.

Parallel Narratives

EE Smith has Arisians, Eddorians and Galactic Patrol;
Poul Anderson has Danellians, Neldorians and Time Patrol.

Parallel narratives, except that:

"Galactic Patrol" means space travel whereas "Time Patrol" means time travel;
the difference in the quality of writing could not possibly be greater.

I have compared Isaac Asimov unfavorably with Anderson and must do this even more so with Smith. The subject of EE Smith came up when I explained to some fellow comics fans that the Green Lantern called Arisia gets her name from Smith's Lensman series.

In fact, the Guardians of the Universe, the Weaponers of Qward and the Green Lantern Corps provide another parallel with Arisians/Eddorians/Galactic Patrol and Danellians/Neldorians/Time Patrol, especially since the first Time Patrol collection was called Guardians Of Time - and Green Lantern is better than Lensman.

I suggested earlier on this blog that Poul Anderson's squirrel-like Chee Lan flying into combat with a gravity harness resembles one GLC member who is squirrel-like and, of course, flies into combat with a power ring. But Anderson also explains the entire social and economic basis of the conflict. Fans of Lensman or Green Lantern can find more in the Time Patrol and the Technic History.

Gods And God

(In Lancaster University Religious Studies Department, someone displayed a cartoon on the noticeboard. A man in pajamas kneels in prayer beside his bed. Above the bed hovers a familiar figure with a hammer. The man says, "Oh, I'm sorry, Thor. I thought when I said, 'God,' I'd get, well, you know...Jehovah!")

Poul Anderson does present a very few details about human religion after the Long Night. Evalyth "...from a half barbaric part of Kraken..." tells her unborn child, "You will grow up...as the gods meant you should."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), pp. 663, 687.

In accordance with Krakenite custom, Evalyth intends to kill her Atheian husband's killer. In the absence of any contrary evidence, I will assume that Captain Jonafer is also from Atheia, the most civilized of the Allied planets. Jonafer appeals to Evalyth:

"'I hoped...that you'd agree to let the man go...'
"'No.'
"'In the name of God -'
"'Your God.'" (p. 700)

So we seem to have barbaric polytheist Krakenites and civilized monotheist Atheians? But no one makes any comparison of Lokonese cannibalism with Christian communion.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Planets Of The Long Night

Roan Tom's father was from Lochlann but his mother was said to be of Hermetian stock. Tom gained power on Kraken. Fleeing from a defeat on Sassania, he came upon Nike.

A joint Lochlanna and Neuvamerican expedition explores Gwydion.

The Allied Planets expedition to Lokon represents several planets, including Kraken, Atheia and Neuvamerica. Their computer refers to Lochlann, Ifri and neo-Freeholder techniques.

Kirkasanters who arrive on Serieve are investigated by a Ranger from New Vixen who trained on Aladir.

By "Planets of the Long Night," I mean planets that are mentioned during or after the Long Night. I count references to fifteen. We are told that Old Earth may no longer exist.

Of the fifteen, we heard of five {sorry, six; see comments} before the Long Night. The reference to Hermes was surprising. Of the remaining ten, New Vixen is a colony of Vixen and Kirkasanters are descendants of Aenean rebels. Thus, the planets that are entirely new are, I think, Lochlann, Sassania {revision: not Sassania}, Nike, Neuvamerica, Gwydion, Lokon, Serieve and Aladir.

Addendum, 28 June 2014: I might revise this post but meanwhile please read Sean Brooks' comment mentioning several earlier references to some of these planets.

Adapted Men II

In "Starfog," the last story of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, descendants of the Aenean rebels who fled from known space at the end of The Rebel Worlds, have spent so many generations ingesting, and becoming dependent on, heavy metals and becoming tolerant of ionizing radiation that they can no longer interbreed with standard humanity; they are no longer human.

In "Watershed," the last story of James Blish's pantropy series, Earth has changed so much that it will now be colonized by Adapted Men while standard humanity must adapt to the new social role of a racial minority - a historical watershed for the sometimes despised Adapted Men.

These different scenarios have in common the understanding that, over long periods of time, everything changes, from planetary environments to DNA. And there is no unchanging human nature.

Adapted Men

Compare and contrast:

James Blish's four "pantropy" stories, collected as The Seedling Stars;
Poul Anderson's four post-Terran Empire stories, collected in The Long Night and again in Flandry's Legacy.

Both these tetralogies are hard sf with interstellar themes:

Blish's theme is artificial adaptation of human beings to extraterrestrial environments;
Anderson's theme is natural adaptations by human beings left isolated in extraterrestrial environments.

When I had explicitated this comparison, I realized why I had been thinking of these two series in parallel.

The pantropy series is a short but complete future history, covering:

an early interplanetary period;
intermediate periods on two extrasolar planets;
longer term galactic hegemony for humanity in its many adapted forms.

The post-Empire stories also cover a future historical period:

post-Imperial anarchy in the mid-fourth millennium;
an intermediate period while the Allied Planets restore interstellar civilization;
longer term, human civilizations have spread through several spiral arms and one is served by the Commonalty.

The main difference is that the post-Empire stories are not complete in themselves but are merely the concluding section of the much longer History of Technic Civilization.  

Three By Four

My proposed seventeen volume edition of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization would include three four-story collections:

Vol VI, Avalon And Empire
"Wingless"
"Rescue on Avalon"
"The Star Plunderer"
"Sargasso of Lost Starships"

Vol XII, Captain Flandry I
"Tiger by the Tail"
"Honorable Enemies"
"The Game of Glory"
"Hunters of the Sky Cave"

Vol XVII, After The Empire (or The Post-Imperial Age)
"A Tragedy of Errors"
"The Night Face"
"The Sharing of Flesh"
"Starfog"

These volumes are, respectively, pre-Flandry, Flandry and post-Flandry. Despite their obvious similarities, there are considerable differences between them.

Vol VI comprises a planet Avalon diptych and an early Terran Empire diptych. (To be more precise, the founding of the Empire is proclaimed at the end of "The Star Plunderer.") The two diptychs differ in length, content, target audience and dates of publication. The Empire stories are pulp sf, 1952, whereas the Avalon stories are juvenile sf, 1973. However, the four stories read in sequence present a perfect prelude to Vol VII, The People Of The Wind (1973), in which the Empire attacks Avalon.

The four stories in Vol XII have a continuing central character and present just one period of his career. Further, the second, third and fourth stories each explicitly refer back to the previous installment. Thus, this volume is a unified tetralogy. The following volume, Vol XIII, Captain Flandry II, would comprise the diptych, "A Message in Secret" and "A Plague of Masters," in which, again, the second installment is a direct sequel to the first.

The stories in Vol XVII, set in different centuries, are united mainly by the fact that the centuries in which they are set are all long after the Fall of the Empire, but there is also a similarity of content. In each, a human-crewed spaceship interacts with a planetary population that has long been isolated from the human mainstream - a Star Trek scenario, except that these populations are descendants of human colonists, not humanoid aliens.

In "The Sharing of Flesh," the Allied planets spaceship New Dawn, not the USS Enterprise, is in orbit around Lokon (see here). New Dawn crew members have descended in a boat, not by teleportation. The problem to be solved is why the Lokonese universally practice cannibalism. The computer, summarizing relevant data, mentions ceremonial cannibalism but does not refer to communion in which participants are believed to receive divine grace by consuming the body of their deity.

Jerusalem Catholicism still existed before the Empire fell but we are not told about any religions post-Empire.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Flandry On Scotha: Chaos And Order

Asdagaar's assassins kill King Penda.
However, Asdagaar's clansfolk, having learned what kind of male he is, do not fight well.
Nartheof's fleet breaks Asdagaar's.
Asdagaar dies.
Nartheof seizes the throne.
Chaos increases.
Nornagast's vengeful kin kill Nartheof.
Earl Morgaar smashes Torric's force.
Fragments of Torric's force harry the remnants of Penda's troops fleeing from the advancing Ilirian Liberation Army.
Royalists are:
scattered through space;
driven from subject planets;
hunted by former allies;
annihilated by advancing Terrans.
Scothan lords fight each other or surrender to Terra.

Flandry will advise an Imperial commission that will probably make Scotha an Ilirian-dominated international confederation with its Queen Gunli advised by a Terran resident. Later in his career, Flandry commands a troop that includes a Scothan armed with a wrecking bar.

Why does anyone fight when they can travel through space and see galaxies? (See image.)

Flandry On Scotha: Duke Asdagaar And Prince Cerdic

Duke Asdagaar, head of a clan that has always been more loyal to itself than to the throne, is a parricide and oath-breaker who, like most nobles, forgets that slaves and servants see, hear and speak. Thus, Flandry easily blackmails him to help others against the throne.

Finally, Flandry sends a messenger in a spaceship with a letter to the Terran Admiral Walton who arrives with twice the strength of the already demoralized opposition and easily defeats the forces of either the royalist Duke Markagrav or the rebel Kelsy. Identification is uncertain.  

Scothan tradition nearly traps Flandry at the end:

Gunli, oath-breaker, can regain her honor only by arranging single combat between Flandry and Cerdic;
Cerdic thinks that a civilized Terran will be unable to fight with a sword;
Flandry, triumphant to the end, demonstrates that decadence includes archaisms like scientific fencing.

Poul Anderson has no trouble in rationalizing a sword fight in an ancient castle in a futuristic sf story.

Flandry On Scotha: Sviffash Of Sithafar

"'Gods gave many gifts, but,
Gunli, yours was greatest.'"
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 267.

I thought that it was appropriate to quote the concluding lines of Dominic Flandry's alliterative verse to Queen Gunli - but we must move on to Sviffash of Sithafar.

He is a "...herpetoid..." (p. 268) and I cannot find this word anywhere. He has a tail, bowed legs, fanged jaws, lidless black eyes and a flickering tongue. The Scothani treat Sviffash's people badly and Flandry tells him, truthfully for once!, that the Terran Empire treats its subjects decently, if only because the Imperials have learned that the alternative is counterproductive. (We do know of exceptions, of course.) Sithafar might be an ally rather than a client or even just left in its extra-Imperial independence.

Sviffash can contact the Empire and other potential rebels who are known to Flandry but must spare Scotha because the rebellion will have Scothan allies, not only power-seeking nobles but also Ilrian nationalists secretly helped by Queen Gunli. Everything is coming together. Flandry does not mention, because it is not relevant here, rival claimants for the Frithian throne who, if they are fighting among themselves, will not be able to resist the rebellion when it comes from Ilria, from within Frithia and from off-planet - not to mention an approaching Terran fleet, but Flandry has not quite organized that yet when speaking to Sviffash.

Flandry On Scotha: Queen Gunli

Queen Gunli is from Ilria, culturally superior but technologically inferior to Frithia. Because her young knight, Jomana, was of low degree, she was married off to King Penda. Later, Jomana was killed in a raid led by Cerdic.

Gunli wants Ilrian independence and an end to war. Flandry, having caught her eye on his first audience with Penda, composes alliterative verse in the Scothan bardic form:

"'So I see you standing,
sorrowful in darkness...'"
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 267.

Gunli avoids the winter solstice feast because the savages get on her nerves. Flandry avoids the feast because his mere presence would cause too many fights and, indeed, there are more than usual this year. This means that she and he are alone in an alcove by a window.

"...Scothanian and human females were extremely similar in outward anatomy." (p. 258)

We must add male skills to those that Flandry deploys for the downfall of Scotha.

Flandry On Scotha: Earl Morgaar

Flandry advises Earl Morgaar, the avaricious feudal lord of the conquered planet, Zanthudia:

farm out tax-collecting - which more than doubles revenues;

when the natives respond to this by murdering tax collectors, hiding goods and making an insurrection, crush them;

when it is pointed out that this is both costly and counterproductive, then set up puppet committees, blame scapegoats and favor selected underdogs (measures which work well only when administered skilfully);

when it is pointed out that Flandry's advice enriches some Scothani but at the expense of others, then reflect that, since the prospect of gain always stirs up strife and since wealth is even now corrupting the court, it may be necessary to forestall a coup against the too-trustful King Penda...

...but approach Prince Kortan, not the ambitious Torric.

Flandry now has:

Nartheof seeking glory for himself at the expense of Cerdic and, incidentally, disposing of Nornagast;
Torric plotting to overthrow the heir, Cerdic;
Morgaar and Kortan working against Torric.

It won't be long now. But I am not happy about all that suffering and strife that Flandry instigates on Zanthudia.

Flandry On Scotha: Prince Torric

Flandry befriends and gains the confidence of the king's younger son, Prince Torric. They drink, yarn and gamble. Flandry wins.

In former times, the assembly of nobles elected each new king from among a recently deceased king's sons but this had led to civil wars so it was decided to choose a successor while the father still reigned. King Penda had pressured parliament to choose his eldest son, Cerdic, as a precedent for primogeniture.

Cerdic had then persuaded Penda that any prince but himself who had too much power might try for more. Consequently, Torric is promised only a single planetary system in the conquered Terran Empire whereas some lower ranking males expect more.

Flandry argues that it is Torric's duty to work for Scotha by becoming king. Any chieftain's power rests on his supporters. Since Penda will not live long and since Cerdic is disliked, someone else with a claim to the throne can use the remaining time to build support for himself and to win over Cerdic's supporters. Fratricide is unthinkable but retirement to the governance of a planetary system would suffice... Torric does not want to bribe Cerdic's faction but his friend can handle such matters for him...

Flandry now has both the Chief of Intelligence and Cerdic's younger brother working against Cerdic!

Flandry On Scotha: General Nartheof

Dominic Flandry advises General Nartheof, Chief of Scothan Intelligence. Flandry's first job is to convince the General that Scotha will not be ready to attack the Terran Empire for another ten or twenty years:

the Imperial Naval Intelligence Corps is better than Scotha's;
if the war is prolonged, then Intelligence will become of prime importance;
even if a Scothan victory is quick, an Imperial remnant will wage a covert struggle;
Merseia might help Scotha but will then turn against it and Ythri might intervene so Nartheof needs intelligence on both those domains as well as on Terra;
when Scothan Intelligence is reorganized, noble birth should not count in promotions and commoners who did well in the ranks might not make the best officers (the first point is made by Nartheof; the second by Flandry; both should cause dissension).

Flandry also advises on the reorganization of fellow services. According to Nartheof, Nornagast the Quartermaster is inflexible but is the king's cousin and saved his life so the king "'...cannot dismiss him without betraying honor.'" -Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 260.

Flandry's advice: Nornagast must have enemies who might include an excellent swordsman who would kill him in a duel, having made a prior arrangement with Nartheof who could immediately advise the king on Nornagast's successor while protecting the swordsman from the king's wrath. This vile suggestion from a low, dishonest, treacherous Terran is indignantly dismissed but it is enough that the suggestion has been voiced.

Acknowledging that (he has been told that) Terrans are low etc, Flandry adds that they conquered widely once and expands on the theme of the pitchfork. Warriors do not handle muck but pitchforks do and he who orders the use of a pitchfork need not think about how it is used. Having again given offense with such an indelicate comparison, Flandry offers amends by disclosing the location of a secret but unguarded Imperial arsenal. Of course, Nartheof need not tell Prince Cerdic about the arsenal but can advance his own power and glory by himself dispatching the expedition, explaining afterwards that there was no time to lose...

So far, Flandry has managed to:

delay the attack;
cause dissension in Intelligence;
initiate a plot against Nornagast;
incite Nartheof to act independently of, thus against, Cerdic;
strengthen Nartheof and gain his protection.

This process continues in subsequent conversations until Scotha is rent by civil war when the Terran Fleet arrives.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Flandry On Scotha

Having learned Frithian, the principle language of Scotha, en route, Flandry begins his subversion as soon as he is presented to King Penda. Based on Imperial experience, he advises the king to respect his subjects, for example by installing radiant heating for the benefit of visiting nobles of non-Scothan species. Glancing around the hall, he sees "...dissatisfaction on many faces..." - and also catches the eye of the queen.
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 258.

This is followed by carefully manipulative conversations with:

General Nartheof;
Prince Torric;
Earl Morgaar;
Queen Gunli;
Sviffash of Sithafar;
Duke Asdagar -

- and a concluding sword fight with Prince Cerdic as the Terran Navy easily overpowers the space fleets of a disintegrating realm. It will be instructive to analyze these conversations. However, my present destination is the realm of the Lord Morpheus.

Tiger By The Tail

Dominic Flandry recognizes a pattern in Terrestrial and interstellar history: a people who learn from, and maybe even overcome, a technologically superior culture imported by explorers, traders or missionaries. Natives can even move from an Iron Age to modern industry. Resources can be exchanged for education and equipment. Newly trained scientists and engineers with their automated machinery can coexist with peasants whose rulers might not want them educated.

The Scothani, taught by others - possibly Merseians wanting to see Terra challenged -, overran the Alarri some of whom then attacked the Terran Empire, hoping that it would buy peace. Instead, the Navy smashed and scattered the invading fleets at the Battle of Mirzan when Flandry was a boy. That Battle should be in the Chronology of Technic Civilization.

The Scothani build a sizable empire (see here) unknown to Terra, then make the mistake of kidnapping Dominic Flandry for his information and advice.

New Spaces

I can think of three ways for a space traveler to venture into a (to him) previously unknown volume of space.

(i) Leave known space:

van Rijn may have led an expedition outside known space in his retirement;
the Aenean rebels fled around two spiral arms, through a dark nebula and into the "starfog" cluster where they colonized a planet that would never have been found if some of their descendants had not come looking for civilization.

(ii) Explore within known space:

the trader teams check systems bypassed by the interstellar frontier;
in the Imperial period, most planetary systems have had little or no contact with the Imperium so anything could be happening within Imperial borders.

(iii) Explore what is no longer "known space" during the Long Night. Roan Tom says:

"'I shook pursuit in the Nebula. But when we came out on the other side, we were in a part o' space that wasn't known to us. Old Imperial territory still, o' course, but that could mean anything.'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 459.

Thus, the mere passage of time and history have transformed known space back into unknown space. 

The Two Dark Ages Of Technic Civilization

Poul Anderson wrote one short story, "The Star Plunderer," set during the Time of Troubles between the Solar Commonwealth and the Terran Empire and another, "A Tragedy of Errors," set during the Long Night between the Terran Empire and the Allied Planets.

The Long Night is the Troubles writ large, a second social breakdown but on a vaster interstellar scale. During the Troubles, the Commonwealth government collapses while the Baldic League, uniting alien Gorzuni with human barbarians, occupies the outer Solar System and raids Earth for slaves. An entire series could have been set during the Troubles which end when Manuel Argos leads a slave revolt, attacks Gorzun and founds the Terran Empire, whose Fall a thousand years later precipitates the Long Night.

We know less about the Long Night, just that, throughout the four hundred light year diameter sphere that had been the Empire, Imperial rule ceases and interstellar travel is significantly reduced although there is no reason why some isolated planets cannot have retained their own technologies and civilizations. Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization tells us that, in the middle of the fourth millennium:

"War, piracy, economic collapse, and isolation devastate countless worlds."
Sandra Miesel, "Chronology of Technic Civilization" IN Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 663-672 AT p. 671.

Countless worlds but not necessarily all. "A Tragedy of Errors" features a potential series character, Roan Tom, who gains economic power on the colony planet Kraken, which later joins the Allied Planets.

A notable feature of the Long Night is that the former Imperial volume of space is not, as expected, occupied by the rival Roidhunate of Merseia. It seems that "The Empire and Merseia wear each other out." (ibid.) We see the beginning of Merseian demoralization at the end of The Game Of Empire, the last work set before the Long Night.

Honorable Enemies


"Honorable Enemies" (1951) by Poul Anderson introduced three alien species:

large green Merseians, sitting on their tails;
tall golden Chereionites, with feathers instead of hair;
small blue Betelgueseans, playing off Terrans against Merseians.

Merseians are the collective continuing villain of the Dominic Flandry series and Aycharaych of Chereion became the main individual continuing villain. Compare SMERSH/SPECTRE and Blofeld.

The story assumed a large inhabited planetary system in orbit around a red giant star and later had to be revised to explain this anomaly. See here.

It refers to two previous exploits of Dominic Flandry:

his single-handed conquest of Schotania, described in Anderson's "Tiger by the Tail" (1951);

his recent discovery of how to nullify Merseian robolocks, an untold story.

The entire action of "Honorable Enemies" is incorporated into the time scale of "The Game of Glory" (1958), which, in turn, is referred back to in "Hunters of the Sky Cave" (1959). Thus, the Flandry series grew and this process continued with the addition of novels, prequels and sequels.

Can anyone read what is printed on the cover of FUTURE between "Honorable Enemies" and "by Poul Anderson"?

Later: It says "Feature Novelet."

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Master Of Deceptions

(I might order Multiverse and NESFA Vol 2 soon but meanwhile have been enjoying the current extended time journey back through the Technic History.)

"The Plague of Masters" ends with another of Dominic Flandry's elaborate deceptions, so complicated that it is impossible to remember the details except by rereading the story.

(i) Nias Warouw, director of the Guard Corps, is enticed to fly to Ranau, accompanied by four armed Guards, to arrest Flandry in the house where the latter has been living high in one of the Trees. (It makes sense that the local Biocontrol dispenser, with direct access to Warouw, is loyal to his own people, not to the planetary oligarchs.)

(ii) Flandry must distract the five Corps men while his confederates climb from neighboring Trees to the back of the house instead of approaching it by the ladder at the front. At this stage, Flandry must speak gibberish and move his limbs and body to feign insanity and could certainly have been shot dead.

(iii) Unfortunately, there is a gun fight. Wiarouw, who must be taken alive, is not easily subdued and two good men die as a result.

(iv) However, once Warouw is secured, everything proceeds smoothly. He can die in a cage deprived of the antitoxin (appropriate, because this is what he has done to others) or start afresh on another planet with a cash stake.

(v) Now controlled by Flandry, Warouw radios his aircar crew of armed men hidden nearby to land on the airstrip where they are killed by vengeful Ranauns.

(vi) He will tell Biocontrol that he and some of his men will take Flandry in the latter's space flitter accompanied by another ship to Spica, will let Flandry's flitter crash with him in it, will tell the Imperial authorities that they are returning Flandry's courtesy call and are shocked to hear of his death.

(vii) However, the "Guards" traveling to Spica will be Ranau men in uniforms taken from the aircar crew and will guard Warouw, not Flandry. Biocontrol will be easily deceived because, as already established, they are so incompetent.

(viii) Imperial entrepreneurs will bring cheap synthesized antitoxin for all the dispensaries while the Biocontrol fanatics, deprived of their power, destroy their now redundant vats. Flandry had earlier speculated about a big commission for himself. The spirit of Polesotechnarch Van Rijn lives on.

Brilliance And Incompetence

By brilliant detective work, Nias Warouw, chief of police, official title "director of the Guard Corps," on Unan Besar, has tracked Dominic Flandry and Luang to another city. Armed Guards led by Warouw have bound Luang and her companion, Kemul, in their hotel room and await Flandry's return. So they should soon have all three in custody, right? Wrong.

Because Planetary Biocontrol dispenses the antitoxin that keeps everyone alive, their police force, the Guard Corps, has encountered no resistance for centuries and has become inefficient. When Flandry enters the hotel room and assesses the situation, he fights his way free and has to be chased through the city. He is soon apprehended but his brief escape has been enough.

All of the Guards chase Flandry. None stay to guard those already arrested. Djuanda, whose life Flandry has just saved, has accompanied him to the hotel, is behind him when he enters the room, enters it when the Guards are chasing Flandry and frees the unguarded prisoners! Then he persuades them to rescue Flandry from Biocontrol Headquarters which, because of the Guard Corps' incompetence, is nowhere near as difficult as it should be. So this part of the plot, unlike Flandry's luck, is entirely plausible.

Warouw continues to work as well as he can despite his subordinates' incompetence. While Flandry is his prisoner, he does not let him know that the others have escaped. He wants Flandry's advice on how to modernize the Guards. Flandry is rescued before he has to give his answer but would surely have sabotaged Biocontrol from within if he had accepted appointment as Warouw's special assistant.

Flandry's Luck

Dominic Flandry has two fantastic pieces of luck on the planet Unan Besar.

(i) When evading the police, he breaks into the apartment of the courtesan, Luang. She flees but later has him brought in for questioning, by her, not the police. This is the beginning of a lucrative partnership. Flandry had made for the slums hoping to contact a criminal underworld and, of course, finds it behind the first door that he breaks into.

(ii) When Luang has possibly deserted him, he prevents the boy Djuanda from jumping off a cliff, nearly being pulled over himself. Djuanda is an even better investment. Immediately, he rescues Luang and Kemul, persuades them to rescue the meanwhile arrested Flandry and then brings a high political alliance with his people of Ranau.

Flandry is helped not only by luck but also by the incompetence of his adversaries but that is explicable although it will have to wait till the next post since I am suddenly caught up in real world politics.

In The Trees

A Tree-dweller on the colony planet Unan Besar tells Flandry why his ancestors began to live on the branches of the giant trees. (See here.) Early in planetary history, competition from the large plantations drove free yeomen into subsistence farming with the high price of antitoxins preventing improvements. One bad year meant selling land to the plantation owner. Yeomen owing money became tenants or slaves.

Some peasants sold what was left to them and moved to the Trees of Ranau where they were:

safe from from the greed of the great land-owners;
removed not only from urban corruption and violence but also from rural ignorance and poverty;
able to help each other.

Interstellar free trade will change their way of life but this change is not to be feared because their lives have been restricted by isolation and the cost of antitoxins. Flandry reflects:

"...revolutions don't originate with slaves or starveling proletarians, but with men who have enough liberty and material well-being to realize how much more they ought to have."
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 125.

Yes. Or with a population that has grown used to a good standard of living but then sees it threatened. The deprived and oppressed might Rise Up In Their Wrath but are more likely to be atomized and demoralized with no idea either that they have anything to fight for or that they are able to fight for it. Flandry makes a revolution with the people of Ranau.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Flandry Against The Merseians

I have started to get an overall picture of Dominic Flandry's lifelong struggle against the Merseians and their clients. We see him in action against:

Merseians on Starkad
Merseians, including Tachwyr, on Merseia
Merseians in space
Merseians on Talwin
A'u on Conjumar
Merseians and Aycharaych on Alfzar
A'u on Nyanza
Merseians and Aycharaych in the Crystal Moon
Merseians and Aycharaych on an unborn planet
Merseians (hidden) on Altai
Tachwyr and Aycharaych on Talwin
Aycharaych on Chereion
a Merseian sleeper on Sphinx

The order of this list reflects my slight revision of the Chronology. A'u appears in only one story but there are two encounters with him. Aycharaych appears in four works but the first of these does not feature Flandry who encounters Aycharaych five times in three works. Flandry's opposite number among the Merseians, Tachwyr, appears in three novels but encounters Flandry in only two.

Nine Novels

Each of the nine volumes set during Dominic Flandry's lifetime either comprises or contains a novel although, as usual with any series or collection, the contents require some revision. Between the opening and concluding trilogies, thus between Volumes I-III and Volumes VII-IX, there could be:

IV The Day Of Their Return preceded by "Outpost of Empire";
V  "Hunters of the Sky Cave" (a short novel) preceded by the first three Flandry short stories;
VI "The Plague of Masters" (a short novel), preceded by "The Game of Glory."

"The Warriors from Nowhere" could appropriately be included as a prelude to VII, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows.

What I have for convenience called Volumes I-IX of the Flandry Period are really Volumes VIII-XVI of a possible seventeen volume edition of the Technic Civilization History. In the Flandry Period, there are nine novels and six short stories. One volume, IV/VIII, containing one short story and one novel, is non-Flandry.

Volume XVII of the History is one short novel and three shorter works. Flandry could be immediately preceded by these three volumes:

V   Mirkheim
VI  Avalon And Empire
VII The People Of The Wind

I write "could be" because, of course, I have invented Avalon And Empire as the title of a proposed collection of the four short stories that cover, respectively:

the colonization of the Avalonian islands;
the colonization of an Avalonian continent;
the Time of Troubles;
the early Terran Empire.

Volumes I-IV of the History are two collections and two novels set mainly in the Polesotechnic League period.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Game Of Glory

"The Game of Glory" occupies 36 pages in Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010) and is divided into sections numbered I to VIII. Section I, three and a half pages, is almost a separate story, summarizing two years of Dominic Flandry's life.

Flandry:

tries to track down an escaped Merseian spy in the Spican province of the Terran Empire;
encounters Aycharaych (not named here) at Betelgeuse;
infiltrates the Merseian Empire;
has leave on Terra;
fights a duel;
is reassigned to Spica;
heads the Intelligence operation during the conquest of Brae;
finds a clue that will lead him to the human colony planet, Nyanza.

My previous posts on this story have focused on Section I. Sections II-VIII are set on Nyanza. See here and here.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Life And Blogs

I have not blogged for the last few hours because we have attended a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the courtyard of Lancaster Castle. Previously, we have seen this play three times in Williamson Park, Lancaster, twice as a "promenade," walking around to see scenes in different parts of the Park. Other promenades in the Park have included The Tempest.

I mention this both to show life going on outside the blog and also because these two Shakespeare plays are relevant to Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest - and are a main parallel between Anderson's works and Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. (The second image shows the ornamental lake in Williamson Park.)

Meanwhile, in relation to Anderson's futuristic science fiction, the previous three posts on this blog and the previous two on the companion blog, Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments (see here) have focused on "Hunters of the Sky Cave." Further, we have yet to exhaust "Hunters..." and, when we have done so, will proceed to other installments of the Captain Flandry series.

Not as yet having any new Anderson-related material to read is helping me to realize how much can still be said about works that have already been discussed.

An Escape

How does this grab you as an escape sequence? By an elaborate deception, Flandry has wangled permission for himself and his fellow prisoner, Kit, to see inside a small Ardazirho (see link) spaceship while its engines have been disconnected. Four armed guards accompany them into the ship though not into the control room. Alone with Kit, Flandry gives her a pre-arranged signal.

Returning down the companionway, Kit passes the guards while Flandry distracts them. Kit grabs a guard's knife, stabs him, grabs his rifle and shoots another. Two down, just like that. Flandry, prepared, dodges a shot aimed at him, knocks that gun aside and strikes the fourth guard, who has turned towards Kit, on the back of the head. That leaves standing only the third guard who, while springing back to get room for a shot, is blasted by Kit. Finally, Flandry kicks the stabbed guard who is down but reaching for a rifle.

All neatly choreographed so that an unarmed Terran and an unarmed Vixenite can neutralize four heavily armed Ardazihiro. One or two Ardazihiro should have watched Kit as she walked past them despite any distraction from Flandry. And how easy can it be for Flandry to dodge a point-blank shot and to knock that gun aside before a second shot is fired?

Flandry and Kit instantly escape in the ship's lifeboat. Flandry can handle the controls even though the wolves squat instead of sitting and have their thumbs on the other side of their hands and, also, he has to look for the release switch. But, nevertheless, the lifeboat controls are sufficiently similar to the spaceship controls that he has just taken time to study.

It is far more likely that such an escape attempt will either not get off the ground or end in two quick deaths.

Wolves On Vixen

(This image is of Flandry's daughter, not of him, but I considered it worthy. Diana is not an Imperial agent (yet).)

To spy on his enemies, Dominic Flandry allows himself to be captured and taken into a frighteningly alien environment. The lupine Ardazirho, having conquered the human colony planet, Vixen, construct their headquarters just below the arctic circle by blasting artificial tunnels into the hills, fusing rocks with atomics and installing equipment with robots in a layout rougher and less private than men or Merseians would want.

Flandry is surrounded by:

painful blue light;
Ardazirho, sprawling, not sitting, gambling for stakes up to a year's slavery or wrestling with teeth and nails;
a barbaric chapel of pungent leaves and a burning wheel;
a gloomy, straw-strewn office with a stream of water running down one rock wall;
a mess where soldiers eat raw meat and howl "...in chorus with one who danced on a monstrous drumhead."
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 242.

Our hero takes all this in his stride. Experienced in outmaneuvering aliens, he is soon able to compare the "wolves" with other species that he has met and knows how to get on friendly terms with his interrogator.

An Occupied Planet

This post continues a line of thought started here.

Dan Dare: The Reign Of The Robots, Doctor Who: Dalek Invasion and Poul Anderson's "Hunters of the Sky Cave" all recall World War II: occupation; street patrols; underground resistance. In Anderson's story, the Ardazirho have invaded and occupied the human extrasolar colony planet, Vixen. Unlike Dare's Treens and the Doctor's Daleks, the Ardazirho are not continuing villains. However, Aycharaych is behind them.

After landing covertly on Vixen and joining the resistance, Dominic Flandry reflects that a local man's hunting skills are transferable to resistance fighting. But surely such skills are also part of Intelligence work? In a Frederick Forsyth novel, a British secret agent organizing resistance in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait remains hidden and motionless but alert for eight hours while watching a possibly compromised dead letter drop before concluding that it is safe to approach it. Sure, his life depends on it. Nevertheless, this is admirable. To remain motionless and alert for eight hours is not only a day's work but a skilled day's work, and the skill is transferable to meditation, in particular to zazen. I try unsuccessfully to remain focused for half an hour.

How is Intelligence gathered? Flandry allows himself to be captured in order to learn the enemy's language, then escape. The easiness of escape is implausible. Of course, escape from capture by armed enemies is a familiar routine in action-adventure fiction and Anderson always writes his escape scenes well although their frequency diminishes their plausibility.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Frontier

Here is another indication of what will happen after the Terran Empire has fallen. Dominic Flandry says to Catherine Kittredge of the colony planet, Vixen:

"'You frontier people are the healthy ones. You'll be around - most of you - long after the Empire is a fireside legend.'"
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 206.

We know that Vixen, having been a frontier planet, will later found its own colony, New Vixen, that will participate in an interstellar civilization much vaster than the Empire. Some colonies, like Altai and Unan Besar, have survived for centuries without any contact from Terra so there is no reason why they should revert to barbarism merely because the tenuous interstellar rule from Terra ceases.

The basic information about Vixen is summarized here. Another detail is that cattle cannot survive there. Consequently, the Vixenites have no dairy industry and Flandry is able to introduce Kit to ice cream. On one extrasolar colony world in Julian May's Galactic Milieu Trilogy, there is milk but something in the grass makes it a different color. This is the kind of detail that matters when persuading readers to imagine daily life on a new planet.

Aycharaych In Conversation II

In conversation with Dominic Flandry on the neutral planet, Talwin, Aycharaych refers to Bach's St Matthew's Passion, to Rembrandt and to Tu Fu. When Flandry mentions a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that begins:

"What was he doing, the great god Pan,
"Down in the reeds by the river?"

- Aycharaych is able to recite the concluding stanza:

"'Yet half a beast is the great god, Pan,
'To laugh as he sits by the river,
'Making a poet out of a man:
'The true gods sigh for the cost and pain -
'For the reed that grows nevermore again
'As a reed with the reeds in the river.'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 464.

Here explicitly, as Flandry surmised, Aycharaych justifies the suffering of others in the cause of his supposed art:

"'In action I find an art; and every art is a philosophical tool, whereby we may seek to win an atom deeper into the mystery.'" (p. 463)

Not when the actions are as despicable as Aycharaych's in The Day Of Their Return, although, even there, he claimed that he had not really harmed the man whom he made schizophrenic in order to use him as a prophetic dupe.

Aycharaych In Conversation

We see Aycharaych of Chereion in conversation with Chunderban Desai once and with Dominic Flandry twice. He lies to Desai, claiming to be from a planet called Jean-Baptiste in Sector Aldebaran of the Terran Empire. Despite this dishonesty, we have no reason to doubt his stated interest in humanity:

he knows of the Indian Mutiny, the Taiping Rebellion and Christianity;
he has studied Aeschlyus, Li Po, Shakespeare, Sturgeon, Mikhailov, Bach, Richard Strauss, Rembrandt and Hiroshige;
he borrows and reads a volume of Tagore while waiting in Desai's office.

Fictitious characters are usually fictions to each other. Anyone can refer to Sherlock Holmes and many do (although, in the case of Anderson's Time Patrolmen, Holmes is not a fiction). We have to accept that, in the Technic civilization timeline, there was an American science fiction writer called Theodore Sturgeon but not one called Poul Anderson. (Beowulf Shaeffer in Larry Niven's Known Space future history refers to Heinlein and also to Carter (?). Known Space does have a John Carter on Mars, obviously an ironic reference to ERB's Warlord of Mars.)

Aycharaych tells the philistine Flandry that Johann Strauss is not to be compared to Richard who is more misunderstood than Xingu. He admires an orchid seen against a null-gee sphere of water with the universe beyond:

"'Black against the quicksilver water globe...the universe black and cold against both. A beautiful arrangement, and with that touch of horror necessary to the highest art.'"
-Poul Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 162.

I do not agree about the horror but thus Aycharaych rationalizes his art "'...of espionage and sabotage, whose materials are living beings...'" (p. 391)

- to quote Desai in conversation with Flandry.

By calling the violet flower black, Aycharaych lets slip that Chereion's sun "'...is cooler and redder than [Flandry's].'" (p. 162)

How The Ice Folk Wage War

Juchi the Shaman says of the native Altaian Dwellers/Ice Folk:

"'...they have...grown weak in sheerly material ways. They help us withstand the aggressions from Ulan Baligh; they can do nothing against the might of Merseia.'"
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 377.

The Ice Folk can do a lot against the human enemies of Juchi's tribe. They somehow detected and destroyed hostile aircraft at a distance. When Flandry defaced the Prophet's Tower, he was carried by an aeromedusa controlled by a Dweller who had to cling to a block of ice in order to survive this flight to the tropics.

When the enemy attacks on motor bikes, a Dweller calls through the roots to alert the forest. Hundreds of aeromedusae descend either to electrocute soldiers or to lift them and drop them into a lethally cold lake. Medusae hit by gunfire burst into hydrogen flame and seek men to burn. The retreat becomes a rout.

Making Love, Not War
Bourtai, a nomad woman, wants to be with Flandry but does not know how to initiate a sexual liaison so she just puts herself in his presence until he gets the message but then they are interrupted and Flandry will leave anyway. But he leaves her in the capable hands of his rival.

For background on Altai, see here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Secret Message

How to smuggle a secret message off Altai when all spaceships and their crews are watched?

No Altaian can read the Terran principle language, Anglic. Even the Kha Khan reads only Altaian and Alfzarian. He trades with Betelgeuse but his people have been isolated from Terra for centuries. When the fugitive Flandry, under cover of night and storm, paints an Anglic word on the side of the Prophet's Tower, no Altaian can read it and its meaning is irrelevant because its mere location is interpreted as a wilful provocation and insult.

A Betelgeusean trader can read the word and has no way of knowing that he might harm Flandry, whom he believes to be dead, by explaining the Anglic to the Khan Khan. However, although Zalat can read "Mayday" and can infer that this means the first day of the Terrestrial month of May, he cannot know that the Anglic is derived from the English "Mayday" which is based on the French "M'aidez," pronounced "M'aid-ay," meaning "Aid me."

Betelgeuseans will take this story home, where it will be heard by staff of the Terran Embassy. Some weeks later, a Terran ship arrives at Altai...

Thus, Flandry transmits a message that is regarded as an insult, is illegible to all Altaians and incomprehensible to Zalat but easily remembered and repeated by the Betelgeuseans and understood by Flandry's fellow Terrans. And that is far from elementary, Watson!

For how rats have evolved on Altai, see here.

To Altai And Back

For a summary of information on the native Altaians, see here.

OK. I have reconstructed Flandry's itinerary. For the investigation of Altai:

Intelligence shipped him to Betelgeuse, where the Terran Embassy gave him his orders with a dossier and an expense account;
he engaged passage to Altai on a Betelgeusean trading ship.

To return to Terra:

he engaged passage on a Betelgeusean tramp ship as the quickest way to reach the Imperial port at Spica VI, from where he would return home on a luxury liner, the Empress Maia;
however, the tramp stopped on Orma, where a Betelgeusean trader informed him of another isolated human colony, Unan Besar, and he rented a space flitter to go and investigate that planet;
presumably, having liberated Unan Besar, he returned to Orma, thence to Spica VI and Terra, although we next see him, some time later, on Varrak in the Taurian Sector - if you accept my revision of the Chronology in recent posts.

Projected Dates For The Fall Of Empire

Information about Poul Anderson's fictitious planet, Altai, continues to be posted here here, here and here.

The unreliability of projected dates for the Fall of the Terran Empire is also shown by another consideration. At least twice during Dominic Flandry's lifetime, the Empire could have fallen suddenly and unexpectedly - if the Terran fleet had been destroyed at Starkad or if a jihad had been launched from Aeneas.

These possibilities preexisted the computer projection quoted by Aycharaych to Flandry. Nevertheless, they demonstrate the instability and unpredictability of the period. And an even less predictable possibility arose shortly afterwards. If a Merseian sleeper had become Terran Emperor, then the Empire would not have fallen but have been incorporated into the Roidhunate.

Chunderban Desai thinks that what he calls the Empire's anarchic phase will last for another eighty years, although modern technology, nonhuman influences and interstellar distances could change that time scale.This will be followed by a "rise," then the final collapse, but there is no absolute inevitability and the development is often cut short by foreign conquest. By leading an armada to Sector Spica to quell the barbarians, Emperor Hans risks losing the throne to an insurrection at home, especially since Aycharaych knows how to foment civil wars.

Thus, even Desai's predicted dates could easily be overturned.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Captain Flandry Series II

I have argued that, of the seven works in (what I call) the Captain Flandry Series, four form a tetralogy:

"Tiger by the Tail" (1951)
"Honorable Enemies" (1951)
"The Game of Glory" (1958)
"Hunters of the Sky Cave " (1959)

that two form a diptych:

"A Message in Secret" (1959/1961)
"The Plague of Masters" (1960/1961)

and, further, that the tetralogy precedes the diptych, contrary to the order of the stories in Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization.

The anomaly is "The Warriors from Nowhere" (1954). On the one hand, it contains the Hooligan and Chives. On the other hand, it was written before "The Game of Glory," in which Flandry has not yet acquired either a private spaceship or a personal servant. However, Poul Anderson solves this conundrum. Retroactively, the story becomes a prelude to A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, the opening novel of the Children of Empire Trilogy. In A Knight..., Hans Molitor has become Terran Emperor after a civil war and, we are to understand, the events of "The Warriors..." occurred during that war, when Hans had not yet defeated all of his rivals but was nevertheless already being served as Emperor by Flandry and others.

Thus, "The Warriors..." becomes the first of four works set during the Molitor dynasty and the entire Flandry series comprises:

the Young Flandry Trilogy;
a tetralogy;
a diptych;
the Molitor period.

The Captain Flandry Series

Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series begins with the Young Flandry Trilogy and ends with (what I call) the Children of Empire Trilogy. Between the two trilogies, there are:

two non-Flandry works, a short story and a novel;
the Captain Flandry series, seven works of different lengths, including two short novels.

I am currently rereading parts of the Captain Flandry series. Since "A Message in Secret" is set on Altai, I have begun adding notes about this fictitious planet to the Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments blog, here.

Posting more on either blog will be delayed by activities in our timeline:

driving to Blackpool tomorrow morning to liaise with delegates to the Pensioners' Parliament;
walking to and from a sports center to use the gym or swimming pool;
preparing for a social gathering here this Friday evening.

Meanwhile, if not on line, I will be rereading Poul Anderson in my spare time.