Friday, 2 September 2016

Firedrake

Poul Anderson, Three Hearts And Three Lions (London, 1977), Chapter Ten.

Apparently, "'...firedrake...'" (p. 63) just means "dragon." In Alan Moore's Miracleman, it means a pyrokinetic.

Holger has to face the fantasy cliche of a dragon. Does Poul Anderson describe the dragon so that we recognize it and also learn something new about it? -

thunderclap wingbeats;
fifty feet long;
scale-armored muscle;
snake head large enough to swallow a man;
bat wings;
iron talons;
flame and smoke from the fanged mouth;
a whiff of sulfur dioxide;
hissing "...like an angry locomotive..." (p. 64);
afraid of water;
therefore, unable to chase Holger and co into a river;
vulnerable to helmetfuls of water thrown into its mouth;
is not killed but retreats.

How can its metabolism generate fire? (Digestion is like slow combustion. The dragon can speed it up?) How can it fly? In an sf series, Anderson carefully explains how a heavy body is able to fly.

Don't take refuge in a cave. The dragon can suffocate you in there. Yes, we learn quite a lot about a dragon in two pages of Anderson's text.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I think the most difficult bit to swallow (ahem!) about a dragon is that it can fly! How can its wings propel so massive a body thru the air?

    And I remember Holger's cleverness about how to handle a dragon breathing fire--throw water into its gullet! Metabolism is a kind of slow burning by the body? Then a dragon breathing fire must have a VERY fast metabolism. That would also imply it needs to eat large amounts of food at frequent intervals.

    Sean

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