Thursday, 7 April 2016

Hunters And Thinkers (In The Dark)

"Darkling in this light..." (The Man-Kzin Wars, p. 158)

"...the woods loomed darkling..." (Man-Kzin Wars III, p. 169)

It just means "dark" or "in the dark" and is definitely a Wellsian touch.

On Earth, some species hunt - stalk, pounce, kill and eat; one species thinks and reflects. Thus, we distinguish between hunters and thinkers. Poul Anderson's winged Ythrians and Larry Niven's feline kzinti do both.

"A hunter's wind blew...The wish that it roused, to be yonder, to stalk and pounce and slay and devour, grew in Weoch-Captain until he trembled."
-Poul Anderson, "Inconstant Star" IN Larry Niven, Ed., Man-Kzin Wars III (New York, 1990), pp. 167-310 AT p. 169.

His fur stands up. His claws slide out. His fingers bend. But he walks steadily to meet the kzinti High Admiral. As his partial name and rank indicate, Weoch-Captain is a rational animal able, usually, to control his instincts. Those instincts, when unrestrained, will make him run through the forest and attack his prey with claws and fangs like a tiger. Such a combination of hunter and thinker is truly alien.

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Many human beings also enjoy hunting. But, not quite in such a primevally primitive manner as the Kzinti. Well, humans lack the fangs and claws of the Kzinti, which forces them to use either weapons or cunning while hunting.

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    Exactly. It has to be a different experience, stalking naked, killing with claws and teeth and immediately eating the prey raw.
    Paul.

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    Replies
    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Correct! I forgot how the Kzinti digestive systems was such that they could, with satisfaction, eat meat raw, with no for cooking. The TIME humans need for dressing and preparing say, venison, for eating also shows how different hunting is for the two races.

      Sean

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    2. Sean,
      Also, kzinti run on all fours while hunting. Physically, they completely revert to their pre-rational state.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Good point! And I recalled how some humans, during the Man/Kzin wars, used precisely this kind of unthinking aggressiveness to good effect AGAINST the Kzinti. You might call this using cunning instead of raw ferocity to get one's prey!

      Sean

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