Sunday, 10 April 2016
The opening page of Poul Anderson's "Pele," in Larry Niven, Ed., Man-Kzin Wars IX (New York, 2002), informs us that:
on Kzin, kdatlyno slaves hand cultivate golden hsakh in the ancient way;
the fiber will be handwoven into cloaks to be worn at Midwinter Bloodfeast, then burnt.
We now learn that this is an established kzinti custom. Most probably, Poul Anderson created the custom for this one story and it will not be encountered again. Nevertheless, it now becomes potential background material for any future Man-Kzin Wars stories. We learn other facts about Kzin:
the kzinti call their sun the Father Sun whereas human beings call it 61 Ursae Majoris;
kzinti hunt slashtooths with spears but must avoid a pride and find one alone;
they make doors of flamewood;
hookbeaks hover so might be bird equivalents;
kzinti spaceships are named Swordbeak and Snapping Sherrek;
the Hero's Tongue has no words for "government" or "purely scientific";
we expect to meet High Admiral Ress-Chiu again but, of course, he died fighting beasts in the Patriarchal Arena after issuing disastrous orders in "Inconstant Star";
"'It was good sport.'" (p. 5)
Would it really be possible to run a high tech civilization on such a basis? It helps when we learn that kzinti savages were enslaved by a space-traveling race and stole all their technology from them.