Sunday, 9 October 2016

Citizen Ammon II

(Dig that cover! Apparently, The Imperial Stars had the same contents as Young Flandry - but with an infinitely better and more appropriate cover.)

Poul Anderson, A Circus Of Hells IN Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), pp. 193-365, Chapter Two, pp. 203-212.

I have discussed this chapter before but this time I want to focus on Leon Ammon. Soon after the setting of the red-orange sun of the planet Irumclaw, Dominic Flandry saunters from the naval compound to Old Town through the "...wreckage at the edge of the receding tide of empire..." (p. 204) and feels that he lives in the "...twilight of empire." (p. 209)

Powerful connotations:

a sun that is sunset-colored even before it sets;
receding tide;
empire again.

This and more details set the scene for Flandry's first meeting with local vice boss, Ammon. Outside one of many joyhouses, an Irumclagian, chanting in Anglic through a vocalizer, advertizes:

exotic games with high or low stakes;
"'Continuous sophisticated entertainment...'" (p. 205);
sex with seventeen intelligent species, including "'...racial, mutational and biosculp variations.'" (p. 206)

Something for everyone! Flandry goes in - but he is there on business. A large, gaudily uniformed, obsidian-eyed, male human being answers to "'...Lem?'" (ibid.) and instructs Flandry to take the grav shaft to the top, sixth, floor, approach Door 666, wait till it opens and ascend stairs. (Quiz question: name two time travel works by Anderson that have grav shafts.) Speaking to Lem, Flandry names the man who is expecting him but is told not to use names.

Ammon's office:

door sealing itself behind Flandry;
an animation of a rose garden on one wall;
shabby old furnishings and garish new ones;
a statue-like, musk-scented Gorzunian mercenary in one corner;
behind the desk, a grossly fat, hairless, sweating man in a fine scarlet tunic and with a high, scratchy voice, not introducing himself by name but telling Flandry to sit and offering cigar and brandy.

Now young Flandry is locked in a room above a joyhouse with a man who must not be named and a mercenary capable of tearing him to pieces.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, THE IMPERIAL STARS collects the same novels we see in Baen Books' YOUNG FLANDRY. And STARS has a far better cover than YOUNG FLANDRY. The horrid covers Baen Books unfortunately chose for most of the Flandry stories are enough to make me go into a Henry VIII style hissy fit!

Yes, the ominous and somber description we see in Chapter II of A CIRCUS OF HELLS helps to explain both the condition of the Empire and why Flandy made his deal with Leon Ammon. He could certainly use a million credits, but he also had the well being of the Empire in mind.

I have to admit Leon Ammon's joyhouse might tempt even a saint! And some of what he offers, such as food, drink, gambling (when done in moderation), etc., are innocuous.

Hmmm, which TWO of Anderson's time traveling stories uses grav shafts? Off the top of my head I propose THE CORRIDORS OF TIME and THE SHIELD OF TIME.

And anyone who has read the New Testament (as Flandry seems to have done) would recognize the number 666! To say nothing of Flandry now being locked in an office with a very dangerous man with a massive, four armed bodyguard.


Paul Shackley said...

You got the time travel books right.
I hope Dominic has read the NT but not necessarily. "666" has become a cultural item in its own right.

David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
Oh, covers. Specifically, BAD covers. Check out, some time when you're feeling masochistic, the horrors that get used as cover art for Lois McMaster Bujold's *Vorkosigan* books. I can think of only one that really strikes me as good (but it's VERY good), and there's one that's so hideous that I actually avert my eyes whenever I take the book down from the shelf to read.
[Addendum: I went looking online for Bujold covers and found another pretty good one - for the same book that had the only good cover I mentioned before! But I also found lots more real stinkers.]

I want to note, too, that covers sometimes get RE-USED for completely unrelated stories. There was one on this very blog just a few weeks ago that I recognized as having been used (first, I think) for *Salvage and Destroy* by Edward Llewellyn. (Helmeted guy with a pondering expression, chin in hand, BIG spaceship in the background.) Sometimes the re-use fits the new story pretty well; others....

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, David!

I certainly agree with your disgust at how some of our favorite books got stuck with truly hideous covers! And I will look up, not too long from now, some of L.M. Bujold's books and their covers (esp. the ones you loath).

Note: look up Edward Llewelyn book covers and for any "reused" for PA books.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I felt pretty sure about CORRIDORS, but not so much so about SHIELD, so I'm glad I got the answer right! (Smiles)

Certainly! I agree "666" has become widely recognized symbol implying ominous and ill omened things. Such as the number 13 (I've actually been in taller buildings which refused to have a THIRTEENTH floor). Makeshifts like "Mezzanine floor" were used.

But, I would still argue for Dominic Flandry being a surprisingly well read man. And, even if he did not believe a God existed, he would certainly know of how MUCH the New Testament had affected his civilization and might well have read it. And he was familiar with some of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry (as we see in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS). And I'm if we combed the Flandry stories for cultural/literary/historical allusions we will find quite a few of them!


Paul Shackley said...

The grav shaft is in Faculty Lodge at the Time Patrol Academy.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm pretty sure that's in one the earlier parts of THE SHIELD OF TIME. While Wanda Tamberly was a student at the Academy.