Sunday, 16 October 2016

Adzel On Earth

(Chinese New Year in Lancaster.)

Adzel, who will be the planetologist in Nicholas van Rijn's first trader team, studies at the Clement Institute of Planetology, a tribute to Hal Clement.

James Ching writes that:

"Adzel talks a lot about blessings in disguise..." (The Van Rijn Method, p. 177)

I suppose any painful experience potentially is, or at least can be seen as, a blessing because it is a challenge to reflect on experience. But the opportunity for reflection might be after rather than during the experience? Gautama who became the Buddha was untroubled while being brought up in secluded luxury but was shocked and began to look for answers when abruptly confronted with sickness, old age and death. Adzel learns to regard long delays in commuting as opportunities for study or meditation. Perhaps, despite their possession of bodies, experienced meditators can come to resemble the hypersomatic being described to CS Lewis by Ransom:

"'Not waiting. They never have that experience. You and I are conscious of waiting, because we have a body that grows tired or restless, and therefore a sense of cumulative duration. Also we can distinguish duties and spare time and therefore have a conception of leisure. It is not like that with him. He has been here all this time, but you can no more call it waiting than you can call the whole of his existence waiting. You might as well say that a tree in a wood was waiting, or the sunlight waiting on the side of a hill.'"
-CS Lewis, The Cosmic Trilogy (London, 1990), p. 168.

(There are some challenging thoughts in the Ransom Trilogy. This passage is in Perelandra/Voyage To Venus, Chapter 2.)

Adzel drinks whiskey in beer tankards, plays chess and poker, sings well and has converted to Buddhism.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Have you read any of Hal Clement's books? Such as his MISSION OF GRAVITY? That's considered one of the classics of SF, and is esp. interesting because Clement tells the story from an ALIEN'S point of view.

    Mention has been made of how it takes a LOT of Terrestrial alcoholic drinks to affect beings as large and massive as Wodenites!

    And from the frequent mention of chess in Anderson's works, it's easy to think he liked to play that game. I've altho thought of how chess is used by a long abandoned sentient level computer in A CIRCUS OF HELLS as a means of staying sane.


    1. Sean,
      I read MISSION OF GRAVITY so long ago that I remember nothing about it.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      As I have done as well, alas. But I do recall it's a story told from the alien's POV.


    3. Paul and Sean:
      Clement wrote several other books told at least in part from the alien POV. *Mission* has a sequel, *Star Light*, in which Mesklinites (including Barlennan) are recruited to explore ANOTHER heavy world.

      *Needle* and ITS sequel, *Through the Eye of a Needle*, feature an extraterrestrial cop who looks like a large amoeba and acts as a symbiont (Clement discovered later that the word HE'D used, "symbiote," wasn't a proper derivation).

      *Iceworld* is about investigating a frozen hell known as 1960s Earth (imagine; a world where sulfur is SOLID!). Someone there is supplying interstellar criminals with a particularly addictive drug, the name of which the aliens pronounce "tofacco."

      *Cycle of Fire* concerns a stranded human explorer joining forces with a nonhuman explorer -- a twist is that each mistakenly believes the other is native to this particular region. The cover blurb on one edition used a line that fascinated me: "Each of them was a stranger to the other. But which was the alien?"

    4. Kaor, DAVID!

      I can tell you are a hard core Hal Clement fan! (Smiles)

      Alas, I've only read two of Clement's books: MISSION OF GRAVITY and NEEDLE. I do recall how Poul Anderson had only admiration for Clement and was inspired by him in Anderson's own efforts to work out convincingly plausible non human rational beings. AND carefully thought out extra Solar planets.


    5. Sean:
      Not nearly as hardcore as I am for Andre Norton or David Drake, but yes, I like Clement's work. *Mission of Gravity* has a marvelous line at the end, when Barlennan uses just the right argument to persuade a bunch of dedicated scientists to help him: he wants his people to learn and understand physics.

      Typo on my earlier post: *Iceworld* is set in the '50s, not the '60s.

    6. Kaor, DAVID!

      Then I'm going to have rummage thru my heaps of SF books to see if I still have MISSION OF GRAVITY!

      I used to be something of a fan of Andre Norton and I like what I read of David Drake's works. Such as his Hammer's Slammers stories. Or the ones about a Roman intelligence agent.