Saturday, 17 September 2016
"Their obsession with hunting and their fiercely romantic masculinity were uncannily Merseian in flavor."
-Sandra Miesel, "Afterword: The Price of Buying Time" IN Poul Anderson, A Stone In Heaven (New York, 1979), pp. 237-251 AT p. 244.
There is a Star Trek episode where Enterprise crew members briefly time travel to a pre-industrial period on an extrasolar planet and hear local speech that is rendered in Shakespearean English. Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry, addressing Mersians, has the problem that his Eriau is two hundred years out of date:
"'I pray forgiveness, Hand, if perchance in mine ignorance I misuse thy...uh ...your tongue. Naught was intended save friendliness. Hither bring I news of peril impending, for the which ye must busk yourselves betimes lest ye lose everything ye possess. My folk would fain show your folk what to do. So vast is the striving needed, and so scant the time, that perforce you must take our counsel. Else we can be of no avail. But never will we act as conquerors. 'Twere not simply an evil deed, but 'twould boot us naught, whose trafficking is with many worlds. Nay, we would be brothers, come to help in a day of sore need.'" (David Falkayn: Star Trader), pp. 214-215. (Full reference here.)
Poul Anderson as always makes the English language do what he wants it to. In this passage, he bestows a sense of history on a fictitious future by carefully crafting Falkayn's speech which verges on the comical.
The Merseians accepting League help recall SM Stirling's Babylonians accepting an alliance with Nantucket - except that the Merseians resent and distrust any offer of help whereas the Babylonians are farsighted enough to be eager and enthusiastic.