Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Star Ship In Starship

"Star Ship" is the title story of Poul Anderson's Starship (New York, 1982). Like the preceding installment of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, "Gypsy," and the succeeding installment, "Virgin Planet," "Star Ship" is about interstellar travelers who have gone astray although for an entirely different reason.

"Star Ship" is Poul Anderson 1950 action-adventure pulp fiction with a characteristic opening passage: the hero, returning home, is suddenly attacked and almost killed because there has been a revolution in his absence. Joining his friends in hiding and learning of the current faction fight, Anse deliberates, then announces:

"'I have an idea...'" (p. 50)

- but, of course, does not tell us what it is yet.

As with "Gypsy," I am not finding any internal evidence to link this story back to the pre-interstellar period of the Psychotechnic History and, if anything, the reference to "Galactic Coordinators" implies that the story is set not, as we are told, in the early stages of interstellar exploration but in a much later period of galactic history. There are "Coordinators" in the later Stellar Union period.

Human beings are plastic organisms that would indeed adapt to and fully accept a barbaric alien culture if a small number of them were stranded on an inhabited planet with such a culture, as happens in this story.

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