Sunday, 28 June 2015

Conquistador, Chapter One

In fantasy and sf, how many different kinds of characters move among us concealing their true identities or real natures?

aliens (Poul Anderson, "Interloper;" "Details");
immortals (Anderson: The Boat Of A Million Years);
time travelers (Anderson: one series and two novels);
telepaths (Anderson: "Journeys End");
Heinlein's Howards (long-lived though not immortal, with one exception).

SM Stirling's Conquistador introduces another such group, descendants of those who colonized an alternative timeline and who retain the ability to move between the two timelines. We infer that Adrienne Rolfe is the granddaughter of John Rolfe VI and learn that she thinks of us as "FirstSiders."

We meet two sets of sympathetic characters, police investigating mysterious activities and Adrienne's group involved in those activities and trying to cover them up. The scene is set: Fish and Game Warden Tom Christiansen follows clues; we the readers are a few steps ahead of Tom; Adrienne is way ahead of us and knows the whole score. She refers to the Thirty Families, the Commission, the Commonwealth of New Virginia and Gate Security. We must read on to learn more.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have sometimes wondered MYSELF about whether or not there are persons among us who conceal who or what they truly are. Maybe not werewolves or vampires, which I find hard to swallow (but some of Stirling's books puts a whole new and very interesting spin on that shop worn trophe!), but aliens from other worlds I just might be able to accept as possible. You cited Anderson's "Interloper"
and "Details" as examples; I would add "Peek! I See You!" as well. I'm rather fond of that last story! I even have a lingering hope I might come across a UFO, as did Sean Francis Xavier Lindquist. (Smiles)


David Birr said...

H. Beam Piper and Andre Norton both did series involving law enforcement personnel from alternate worlds who, when operating in timelines such as ours, concealed their true nature. In Piper's stories, they described their culture as "parasites" on every other reality (though the Paracops' main job was to catch and punish those who weren't careful to do as little damage as they could).

Norton's version had less focus on *taking* from other timelines; tourism is mentioned, but not exploitation. The Wardsmen seemed mostly to hunt down those from their world who tried to become (oh, hell, I'll say it) *conquistadors* in less-advanced cultures.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Birr,

Thanks for your comments. Alas, I don't think I read any of H. Beam Piper's Paracops stories. Drat! And while I have read somewhat more of Andre Norton's works than I have of Piper's, again I have to regretfully say I don't recall reading any of her Wardsmen stories. My loss, I know!

The closest analogy I can think of from the works of Poul Anderson would be his Time Patrol stories. Altho they had other functions as well, a primary task of the Patrol was to act as time cops: pursuing, arresting, and bringing to justice time travelers who committed crimes in past times.

In "My Object All Sublime," we see a different twist on the idea of time cops. In that story the worse criminals from the future are sentenced to be exiled in the past at locations deemed to be the worse for them.