Sunday, 18 September 2016
A Problem And A Planet
"Falkayn's words chopped off. He smashed a fist down on the arm of his pilot chair and surged to his feet. Adzel rose also, sinews drawn taught. He knew his partner." (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 260)
And we know Falkayn. In fact, by now we know quite a lot of Poul Anderson heroes who break off in mid-sentence when they suddenly realize the solution to a practical problem, e.g.:
Asimov's Donovan written by Anderson
the hero of "SOS"
Falkayn himself in "Lodestar" -
"Falkayn let out a tired chuckle. 'A new isotope. Van Rijn-235, no, likelier Vr-235,000 -'
"And then his glance passed over the Nebula, and as if it had spoken to him across more than a thousand parsecs, he fell silent and grew tense where he sat." (p. 639)
It is not obvious here but Falkayn is starting to formulate a response to a central conflict of the Polesotechnic League.
Back to Falkayn and Adzel on p. 260 - the former's moment of realization is followed by a beautiful description of Merseia seen from space:
"Merseia hung immense, shining with oceans, blazoned with clouds and continents, rimmed with dawn and sunset and the deep sapphire of her sky. Her four small moons made a diadem. Korych flamed in plumage of zodiacal light." (p. 260)
Planets do not literally hang, as if they were fruit on Yggdrasil, although they appear to. A human observer provides an "up" and a "down." We know that even the biggest planet is minute when contrasted with immensity of space but this planet is close enough to be seen as immense. Apart from the continents and the moons, nothing seen here is solid: oceans; clouds; sky; space; light. When seen from far enough away, dawn and sunset are simultaneous. They are places, not times. And, since I am now on the night side of Earth, that is a good place to finish for today.