Tuesday, 15 November 2016

In Gray

Regular readers might remember that "Gray" is the name of the main city on Avalon. The city is named after Captain Gray of the Olga, the Grand Survey ship which, during a flight of several years - like that of the Enterprise -, discovered many planets, including Ythri and an uninhabited globe that was provisionally named "Gray" before David Falkayn's granddaughter renamed it "Avalon" when Falkayn led the colonization.

When the Founder's descendant, Tabitha Falkayn, visits Philippe Rochefort in hospital, the color of her hair and skin tell Rochefort that she has been under "...a stronger sun than shone over Gray." (Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 644)

Why is the comparison made with Gray? Because the hospital "...building had been hastily erected on the outskirts of Gray." (p. 646)

When Tabitha leaves the building, a double space between paragraphs marks the change of point of view from Rochefort to Tabitha. As ever, Poul Anderson makes the Avalonian setting seem real with many concrete details and with appeals to at least three of the senses:

"Where she stood, a hillside sloped downward, decked with smaragdine susin, starred with chasuble bush and Buddha's cup, to the strewn and begardened city, the huge curve of uprising shoreline, the glitter on Falkayn Bay. Small cottony clouds sauntered before the wind, which murmured and smelled of livewell.
"She inhaled that coolness. After Equatoria, it was intoxicating." (p. 647)

So she has been on Equatoria, where the Terrans were defeated. What better name for an equatorial continent? And imagine looking at scenery where a major feature bears your own surname. The mention of the wind is appropriate because Tabitha, as a member of a choth, is one of this novel's title characters, the "People of the Wind." In fact, she stops to don her gravbelt as she leaves the hospital. We have learned many details of Avalonian life and want to know more but unfortunately this novel is about to end.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And the real world South American country of Ecuador adopted that name precisely because it straddled the equator.


David Birr said...

"What better name for an equatorial continent?"
"Midway" could work in that context, too. Depending on climate, and whether the settlers were feeling whimsical, some reference to heat, such as "Frying Pan." Even if they weren't whimsical, "Tropica."
Sorry; you asked a rhetorical question, and it triggered my inner lecturer....