Thursday, 28 May 2015

Emprises And A Dominancy

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

The Venture League is:

" organization that aimed to launch fresh emprises among the stars." (p. 471)

"Emprise" evokes both "empire" and "enterprise." Envoy has returned with enough information to launch, on Harbor, if not on Earth, an industrial revolution, a scientific revolution and religious and philosophical transformations. Al Brent, if he had survived, would probably have argued for conquering the unenterprising Earth to which they returned.

We learn the name of yet another political regime. There has been not only a Dominancy and a Governance but also a Mandatory that left warhead craters on Harbor during its dying days.

Nansen and Dayan, with a much younger crew, take Envoy to rescue the last Kith ship. Like Captain Kirk, Nansen boards the stranded Fleetwing but, unlike Kirk, he is able to argue that his experience makes him the most suitable candidate for this role. He of course knows the doctrine that "'The commander should stay with the ship.'" (p. 479)

We approach the conclusion of Starfarers. How many entirely different situations have we encountered in its fifty two chapters? Several of the characters appear in only a single chapter. Others survive for many chapters and millennia thanks to time dilation. The Envoy crew sitting "...under a vine-draped trellis..." (p. 472) are like the immortals conferring around a picnic table in The Boat Of A Million Years yet how different are their stories.

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