Sunday, 24 July 2016
Lost In Time
In Island..., Ian Arnstein, visitor to Nantucket, is a historian and a reader of "'...speculative fiction about things like this...'" (p. 38) He will have read Tau Zero.
"At this point in the type of novel that was his favorite reading the hero would be brimming with ideas, getting people moving, organizing things, providing some leadership.'" (p.34)
This happens in Tau Zero. Arnstein reflects:
"'The problem is...I couldn't lead three sailors into a whorehouse. Somebody else will have to do it.'" (ibid.)
Somebody else, Police Chief Cofflin, has to address the town meeting. However, as soon as that framework for discussion is in place, Arnstein gives the others the benefits of his thoughts.
"Cofflin was impressed. This one's a thinker, he decided." (p. 38)
Emergencies bring out the best or the worst in people. Here is the best. Arnstein proposes:
"'...Chief Cofflin as...ah, as chief executive officer for the duration of the emergency...'" (p. 40)
The town clerk seconds. It is carried by acclamation. Arnstein proposes that the newly elected chief executive officer appoints a council, with a legislature to be elected later. Cofflin immediately appoints to the council:
the town clerk
the Coast Guard captain
a local campaigner
the local farm owner
the rest of the selectmen
"Cofflin's Council..." (p. 45) soon also includes the town librarian, an amateur archaeologist. Stirling presents a competent cast of characters who will square up to the challenges ahead.
No sooner had I raised the question of the fate of the Indians (here), than the novel began to address it. I should have realized the significance of this minor detail: one of the team that visits the mainland has a cold.