Sunday, 7 June 2015

Poul Anderson's Martians: The Martian Crown Jewels And Shield

OK. I am trying to track down physical descriptions of Poul Anderson's half dozen or so Martian races but this is no easy matter and will take a while. I think that I am right to say, and have said before, that "A Bicycle Built For Brew" and "Captive of the Centaurianess" share a race of Martians even though these two stories are not otherwise connected, i.e., do not fit into the same continuity?

But my first task is to describe the Martians of "The Martian Crown Jewels." I have posted about this story but not included any description of its Martians so I must return to Anderson's text: a seven-foot, stork-like biped with a large, lean, crested head, red beak, deep yellow eyes, sinuous neck, white feathers, blue-plumed tail, thin red arms, four-fingered hands and erect posture, using phrases like "' tear chab...'" and "'Elementary, my dear fellow.'" (Call Me Joe, pp. 429, 430)

Unbelievable. The speech patterns on top of that physical description. Another problem I have is that, if such a description is offered just once early in the story without, e.g., any accompanying cover illustration, then I cannot remember the details while reading. Instead, I retain just an impression of a long thin body, nothing more. Later, I misremember it by, e.g., adding insectile features which are simply not there. I had forgotten that the creature was avian. But can this be a serious description of a possible Martian organism? Maybe not. If, as seems to be the case, the story is tongue-in-cheek, then its description of an alien body becomes a bit of a joke as well - although not one that appeals to me very much. Humor is a matter of taste. In fact, I would feel very uneasy around a large, beaked, bird-like being whether or not he was calling me a dear chap.

I am now searching the blog for posts about Shield and am finding some references to its Martians but, again, not a physical description as yet. See here and here. This topic will require more than one post.

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