Friday, 24 November 2017

Kinds Of Character Interactions

I don't know what language that is but I have worked out that the title means Midsummer Tempest.

Characters from different genres meet in the Old Phoenix. Analogously, real and fictional characters can meet in fiction although not in reality:

fictional characters, including time travelers, meet historical characters (see Anderson's Time Patrol);
Jack Havig knows Robert Anderson who knows Poul Anderson;
Ian Fleming's G. is fictional but his superior, Serov, who phones for an update, is real;
CS Lewis meets Elwin Ransom;
Mikael Blomkvist meets Paolo Roberto.

I am rereading Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy for a rest from late night blogging but reading about Blomkvist phoning Roberto prompts reflections on kinds of character interactions.

A Conceptual Chasm

There is a conceptual chasm between works of fantasy about mythological beings like Lilith and hard sf in which a moonship returns to Ganymede. Poul Anderson wrote on both sides of that chasm - not specifically about Lilith but certainly about gods, elves etc. There is also a spectrum of imaginative fiction that partially bridges the chasm:

hard sf (Heinlein, Anderson, Niven etc);
soft sf (Bradbury, Simak, Lewis);
Lewis' combination of interplanetary travel and supernatural beings in a single narrative;
Anderson's Old Phoenix Inn where van Rijn from a hard sf series can meet fantasy characters;

Thus, maybe three intermediate categories. Poul Anderson wrote hard sf, the Old Phoenix and fantasy and, in some of his hard sf works, addressed the same theological issues as Lewis. Anderson did not touch soft sf - except maybe in some early pulp mag stories, e.g., "Witch of the Demon Seas." See here.

Lilit II

Please check out the megamultiverse speculations. Inspired by Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and Old Phoenix sequence and by James Blish's mini-multiverse, I tried to identify those mysterious characters of literature who might just possibly have traveled between universes in order to observe or intervene at crucial moments while keeping themselves in the background. For example, why do the Time Traveler's dinner guests include the Silent Man? Is he a futurian time traveler who wanted to be present at this pivotal conversation but who also kept quiet in order not to risk altering the course of the dialogue as recorded by the outer narrator?

We have found another candidate intercosmic traveler. Lilith interacts with Adam and demons, manages to keep herself (mostly) out of the Bible and yet looms large in Jewish mythology and some modern fantasy. She is mysterious and interacts with powerful beings in more than one time and place - the perfect suspect.


A Jewish man describes an evil place as:

"'An abode of Lilit.'"
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Thirty-One, p. 798.

Is "Lilit" the same as "Lilith"?

We have encountered Lilith on:

this blog here (scroll down);
Personal And Literary Reflections here;
Comics Appreciation here.

Lilith is not big in the Bible but she gets around.

A Meal In A Tent in A Desert

The Crown Princess of Montival and the Empress of Japan find a Jewish community in the desert.

They eat:

chicken soup with dumplings;

grilled lamb and emu with garlic and chilies on steamed semolina;

round risen wheat loaves, dipped in spicy and ground chickpea sauces;

mesquite bean flour, maize-meal and beans with caramelized onions and herbs;

sweet peeled prickly-pear fruit;

small honey-sweetened cakes with dates and pinon nuts -

- and drink:

herb tea;
cooled water;
sweet fruit liqueur.

SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Thirty-One, pp. 787-788.

Stirling always gives us food for thought.

Stochasticism, Not Scholasticism

The blogging process is stochastic. I have no more idea of what is to come than anyone else. (Stochasticism is a philosophical school in James Blish's The Triumph Of Time.)

While swimming here, I got what I thought were Two Good Ideas for posts. I eventually published these two posts, Class Warriors and Self-Reference, although only after thirteen other posts about Poul Anderson's Starfarers. (And, in fact, there had been an earlier Class Warrior.)

After "Self-Reference," there were, among other posts, five more about Starfarers. The fifth, "Jehovah And The Storm Goddess" (see here), compared metaphors in Starfarers and Three Worlds To Conquer, thus leading to, so far, two posts about Three Worlds..., Ganymede and Choice. And I will probably (not definitely) reread Three Worlds..., thus generating a few more posts.

And all this goes back to swimming one morning.


This back cover blurb summarizes a dramatic moment in Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer so I decided to share it before turning in. Fraser is one of those many Anderson heroes that appear just once in a single novel. Someone could compile a list of their names? I had forgotten Fraser's until I reread it.

Who are the heroes of:

Tau Zero;
After Doomsday;
The Corridors Of Time;
The Byworlder;
Twilight World;
Vault Of The Ages;
The Winter Of The World;

There is always more to learn or remember about Anderson's works.


Mountains like teeth;
craters like fortress walls;
long crater shadows on blue-gray plains;
the John Glenn range;
Berkeley Ice Field, sheening amber;
Mare Navium;
Dante Chasm;
the Red Mountains;
the green beacon at Aurora;
rock and ice;
Jupiter above;
unblinking stars in a black sky.

This is how the colonized Ganymede looks to the pilot of a returning moonship on pp. 7-9 of Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer. He thinks of it as home but I would not like to live there.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Jehovah And The Storm Goddess

In Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer, when an Admiral addresses Ganymedean insurrectionists through the main transmitter at full amplitude, his dialogue is capitalized:

-Poul Anderson, Three Worlds To Conquer (London, 1966), Chapter 7, p. 54.

He goes on like that. This is described as "...the Jehovah voice..." (op. cit., p. 55)

In Anderson's Starfarers, when Nivala speaks through an amplifier:

"Her voice rang as loud as the voice of some ancient storm goddess."
-Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999), Chapter 21, p. 199.

I am certainly alone in being reminded of the Jehovah voice by the voice of the storm goddess but this coincidence has refocused my attention on Three Worlds To Conquer which might be a good book to reread. I said here that I had not found the cover of my edition on google but now I have. See image. A search of the blog shows how often I have posted about this novel before, e.g., Hardware and Echoes Of Heinlein. Or: search for the name of the Jovian character, Theor. However, there is always more to be said.


Poul Anderson has three "Sword" titles:

a detective novel;
a historical novel;
a heroic fantasy.

How many kinds of people investigate murders? -

private consulting detectives;
amateur detectives;
investigative journalists.

Poul Anderson has perhaps four private detectives, three of them science fictional, and also cameos the Great Detective in the first Time Patrol story;

Asimov's Elijah Bailey and Niven's Gil Hamilton are police;

Asimov's Wendell Urth and Black Widowers are amateurs;

Stieg Larsson's Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist whose investigation parallels that of the police.

Thus, Anderson contributes to detective fiction but (I think) to only one of the four kinds of investigators.

The Future Of Judaism

Dominic Flandry's mentor, Max Abrams, is Jewish - from the planet Dayan.

Moishe Feldman, a Montivalan merchant, is Jewish.

(Regular readers know which future histories Flandry and Montival exist in.)

In another fictional future (see here), Lazarus wanders...

In the Dune future history, we learn of "Secret Israel," concealing its existence...

In ERB's The Moon Men, the Kalkars oppress a Jewish man - and everyone else on Earth.

Any more?

The Future Of Music II

See here the Atomic Rockets website, addressing space travel issues relevant to Poul Anderson's works. David Birr informed me of this website in the combox here.

In The Future Of Music here, I mentioned Spock's musical instrument. For an image of the Vulcan lyre, see "Future Music" on Atomic Rockets here.

For a quote of my post on Anderson's "The Battle Of Brandobar," scroll down "Future Music."

One or two coincidences there, I think.

Smiling Villains

We have had many references to Hamlet. Here is another:

"That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain, she thought."
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Nine, pp. 701-702.

And we find that we have already quote this line. See here. This could lead us back onto the theme of villains. However, I have exhausted what I have to say about such characters for the time being! Stirling's character quotes Hamlet after an interesting reflection on the difficulty of acting one way and thinking another. Those who find this easy are dangerous - smiling villains.

Spy Fiction

We have just watched Andrew Marr on spy fiction. See here. Marr identifies several "rules," e.g., that the hero is always a gentleman and that there is a lot of betrayal. Dominic Flandry complies with both of these. Another rule is that this genre, only a hundred years old, must change with the times. In particular, the villains must change, always reflecting current reality:

the IRA;

We may add -

alternative reality: SM Stirling's OSS must spy on the Draka;
future history: Dominic Flandry against the Merseians.

Marr does not mention that, when it became implausible for the British Secret Service to continue defeating the Russians, Ian Fleming invented the private criminal organization, SPECTRE. He does mention the difficulty of infiltrating a society where the population looks different. Frederik Forsyth invented a rare British agent of partly Arab descent. Anderson's Terrans discuss the difficulty of infiltrating Avalon - and no one is going to be disguised as a Merseian.

Marr rightly says that popular fiction, e.g., by Neil Gaiman and Ian Fleming, is well written and reflects life. Poul Anderson and SM Stirling are not on his radar but should be.

Addendum: I forgot one group of villains, Stieg Larsson's secretive section within Swedish Security.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Ministers Of Religion

Non-Christian writers noticeably present ministers of Christianity either sympathetically or unsympathetically. Thus:

Poul Anderson - Father Axor;
SM Stirling - Father Ignatius;
HG Wells - the Curate in The War Of The Worlds and a vicar in In The Days Of The Comet.

That comet changes everyone for the better - but Wells does not show us its effect on the vicar.

I mention this because of a short passage in Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire. The title character cannot get anyone in authority to hear what she has to say, not even a pastor who wants her to pray with him. That has to be a text book example of how not to work as a pastor or as any kind of counselor. Either Axor or Ignatius would have listened and responded. Each would have prayed for Lisbeth but not with her unless she asked them to.

The Kith Life-Style

Thank you all for 403 page views yesterday and for 473 so far today. My attention hovers between fictional universes like a patron of the Old Phoenix able to choose which world to visit next.

Is the Kithic life-style appealing or even feasible?

"'...weeks, months, maybe years crowded into a metal shell or into still more cramped seal-domes, never able to step outside for a breath of clean air, only in a suit - because, I reminded him, planets where humans can walk freely are bloody few, and to make the profit that keeps us going we often have to call at other kinds.'"
-Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999), Chapter 17, p. 130.

This paradox arises several times in Anderson's works. Interstellar travel is seen as the ultimate freedom yet the travelers are imagined as confined inside metal spacecraft. It need not be like this. Those who cross an interstellar distance must take a habitable environment with them so they should be able to make that environment both spacious and humanly tolerable:

in Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains, the first extrasolar colonists have a much longer travel time but their vehicle and habitat is a terraformed asteroid;

in Anderson's Harvest Of Stars Tetralogy, the Lunarians live permanently inside artificial environments which however are the very opposite of crowded or cramped;

in Anderson's Technic History, van Rijn and Flandry travel in sybaritic spacecraft.

Of course, there are limits to the sizes of the ships that can be moved with the zero-zero drive technology of Starfarers but, if those ships had to be too small for the sanity of large crews, then there would be no Kith culture.

Is regular trade feasible? After decades or centuries:

Will there still be an organized society on Earth or any other planet?
Will that society still need or want what the Kith can sell?
Might it not have found a way to produce, e.g., those rare isotopes or biochemicals at home?
Or have developed a technology with entirely different needs?

We are told that the trade does indeed dwindle for some of these reasons but how likely is it even to start?

(516 page views by the end of the day.)

Van Gogh

Recently, because of an earlier blog post (see here), Chris Cole emailed me about kayaking (see here).

Today, because of another earlier post (see here), Jenna from Artsy Team has emailed me about the Team's Vincent van Gogh page (see here) which has:

van Gogh's bio;
over 100 of his works;
exclusive articles;
updated exhibition listings;
related artists and categories.

As I said about kayaks, anything that comes up from reading Poul Anderson's works is relevant and I am happy to relay information. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017


Poul Anderson has:

Atlantis in the Dancer From Atlantis;
mermen in The Merman's Children;
a reference to Clark Kent in There Will Be Time. (See also here.)

The Justice League film has:

an Atlantean merman, the Aquaman;
the Resurrection of Clark Kent.

Am I alone, sitting in the cinema, in thinking of Poul Anderson and wanting these novels to be filmed? Images of the Aquaman withstanding a giant wave on a sinking ship and rescuing the sailor show how easy it would be to film The Merman's Children.

Films need substance as well as special effects and Anderson certainly supplies the former.

The Future Of Music

Hugh Valland plays an "omnisonor."
A Kithwoman plays a "polymusicon" and sounds a bugle call from it.
Heinlein's Rhysling plays an accordion but he lives in the early twenty first century when there has not yet been time for any new musical technology.
Spock has some kind of Vulcanian instrument, I think.
James Blish's "A Work of Art" (see here) is about the future of music, including musical technology.
There is multi-sensory art in Anderson's The Peregrine.
Anything else?

Planets And Meals

(An idiosyncratic title makes it easier to re-find a post.)

Poul Anderson contributed to shared planets:


James Blish's "A Case of Conscience" is part of:

A Case Of Conscience;
After Such Knowledge;
the Haertel Scholium;
a projected Twayne Triplet!

I do not know who wrote the other two "Lithia" stories but Blish told me that one of them would have contained meals long and lovingly described - as in our Food Thread?

This food for thought has taken us from shared planets to "food porn" (hate that phrase!) via a fourfold James Blish story while I am eating lunch but I must get back to some real life like a walk to Morecambe.

Maybe the Justice League film this evening. (See here.)


Poul Anderson's "The Tale of the Cat," incorporated into his Starfarers as Chapter 17, first appeared in Analog, February 1998.


the furthest colony planet from Sol;
dim sun;
summer light like autumn on Earth;
twenty six hour day;
mountainous glaciers to north and south;
cold clashing seas;
one tropical continent colonized;
beautiful rings, the remnants of a moon;
one temperate zone;
herds and crops;
quakes, storms and metal-gnawing mites;
Terrestrial grass sown;
imported birds flourishing;
a local animal called a "scuttermouse";
houses and shops of the Magistrate's retainers;
murky native forest, rarely visited;
castle with homes, worksteads, chapels, stadium, laboratories and a museum;
government mostly by town meetings;
the Magistrate has a militia and a court;
visiting Kith range in their flitters.

An Earlier Kith Period

Starfarers, Chapter 17, is another short story incorporated into the novel.

"Ghetto"/Chapter 21 is the crossover point between the two versions of the Kith History.

Two evocative names of Kith Ships are Eagle and Argosy. Both evoke other stories:

the Eagle comic published "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future";
Argosy magazine published ERB.

The Quadrangle Trade:
biochemicals from Morganan seas;
isotopes from the Auroran system;
arts and crafts from Feng Huang;
biostock from Earth.

Aerie is the colonized planet furthest from Earth. And there is still a lot more to reread and post about the Kith History.

Monday, 20 November 2017


The following passage:

is in "Ghetto," the first Kith short story by Poul Anderson;
was removed by Anderson when he adapted the story as Chapter 21 of Starfarers;
is semi-poetic;
conveys a sense of the history of Kith Town (see here).

"The Town ended as sharply as if cut off by a knife. It had been like that for 3000 years, a sanctuary from time: sometimes it stood alone on open windy moors, with no other works of man in sight except a few broken walls; sometimes it was altogether swallowed by a roaring monster of a city; sometimes, as now, it lay on the fringe of a great commune; but always it was the Town, changeless and inviolate."
-Poul Anderson, "Ghetto" IN Anderson, Maurai And Kith (New York, 1982), pp. 171-214 AT p. 188.

(The text goes on to deny the validity of "...always...")

I like the " windy moors...," especially when they are contrasted with the "...roaring monster of a city..." Nothing shows the impact of mankind more than the fact that a single point on the Earth's surface is sometimes out in the open and sometimes in the middle of a city. It is as if the Town is the Time Machine and the time-dilated Kithfolk are futureward time travelers. We have not exhausted this series yet.


The time traveling hero of a Poul Anderson sf novel assesses Anderson's Maurai series:

"'He's changed names and other items; as for the gaps in what you fed him, he's guessed wrong more often than right. If anybody who knows the future should chance to read this, it'll look at most like one of science fiction's occasional close-to-target hits.' His laugh rattled. 'Which are made on the shotgun principle, remember!...But I doubt anybody will. These stories never had wide circulation. They soon dropped into complete obscurity.'"
-Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time (New York, 1973), XII, p. 129.

M. assesses Ian Fleming's James Bond novels:

"The inevitable publicity, particularly in the foreign Press, accorded some of these adventures, made him, much against his will, something of a public figure, with the inevitable result that a series of popular books came to be written around him by a personal friend and former colleague of James Bond. If the quality of these books, or their degree of veracity, had been any higher, the author would certainly have been prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. It is a measure of disdain in which these fictions are held at the Ministry, that action has not yet - I emphasize the qualification - been taken against the author and publisher of these high-flown and romanticized caricatures of episodes in the career of an outstanding public servant."
-Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (London, 1966), 21, Obit:, p. 180.

Not only self-reference but also self-deprecation in both novels. We want to read:

a novel set in whatever the Maurai Federation was really called;
an unromanticized and accurate account of Bond's adventures.

Class Warriors

The social gulf that Kenri and Nivala aim to overcome by marrying is enormous. However, Kenri learns that there is a second, and completely insurmountable, barrier: his loyalty to his people. Nivala's uncle, a Colonel on the Supreme Staff of the Dominancy, explains:

the Dominancy's treasury is low;
the new badge tax on the Kith is a precedent;
there will (have to) be further taxes on both subjects and Kith;
but the Dominancy does not want to force the Kith off Earth;
Kenri will be asked to advise policy-makers;
his special knowledge and connections will be useful;
he will be able to make things easier for his former people (how?) but not to annul the history that is currently against them (so how can he help them?).

Kenri refuses, breaks off his engagement to Nivala and stays with the Kith. What interests me here is the Colonel's consciously "class war" attitude:

the Star-Free are an entirely parasitic caste, aesthetic and ornamental;
their rule, enforced by the state-apparatus of the Dominancy, involves military suppression of rebellions;
the Dominancy is funded by heavy taxes on Terrestrial subjects and Kith traders;
there is not only military rule and heavy taxation but also extreme anti-Kith prejudice and overt oppression, e.g., a Star-Free who has bought a Kith merchant's debt can take his daughter under contract - the Colonel's response is not that this is wrong but merely that Kithfolk stick together and can be expected to raise money for the father.

My solutions would be:

to end Star-Free rule by general strike and armed insurrection/successful rebellion;
to establish Terrestrial Democracy as against Dominancy;
to respect the Kith;
to value their contribution to civilization.

The Colonel:

knows exactly what is at stake;
opts to wage this same war from the other side, even at the expense of social tranquility;
does not pretend that the Dominancy serves everyone's interests;
is not socially prejudiced;
recognizes that the Kith are demonstrably the genetic equals of Star families and may sometimes be superior as individuals;
admires Kenri's spirit;
expects Kenri, if he marries Nivala, to renounce his Kith allegience;
frankly acknowledges that Kenri's refusal makes Kenri and himself "enemies";
respects Kenri more for this than if they had become allies;
wishes him luck.

Well, you couldn't find a nicer guy to go to war against!

Meanwhile, this chapter informs us that the Kith are in any case declining. I thought that the chapter also indicated economic reasons for this but have not found those on looking back through it. Maybe someone who has recently reread both "Ghetto" and Chapter 21 will be able to tell us more?

I think that the Colonel would agree with the two opening sentences of The Communist Manifesto:

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
"Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journey-man, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes."
-Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1985), 1, p. 79.

(The text begins on p. 79 because there is an Introduction by A.J.P. Taylor and there are also seven Prefaces to earlier editions.)

Lastly, both George Orwell and SM Stirling show us a future society in which the ruling group not only acknowledges that it oppresses the population below it but also intends to maintain that oppression for as long as there is a human society.

I posted about the Colonel before. See Class Warrior.

A Few Details In The Kith History

In a Kith interstellar spaceship, instruments process photons captured in the instants between zero-zero jumps, which therefore sound like the quantum jumps of the hyperdrive in Poul Anderson's Technic History.

Kenri mentions rogue planets, which play big roles in the Technic History.

Nivala uses the phrase "kinship with the stars," which is an Anderson title. See here.

Kenri studies Murinn's General Cosmology. Since Olivares and others formulated a unified physics, there have been empirical discoveries but no theoretical advances. Terrestrials argue that the universe is finite and that all phenomena are theoretically deducible from the Grand Equation although complexity might make the deduction unfeasible. Thus, they claim to have a Theory of Everything (see Science And Creation). Kith, like Manse Everard, know from experience that the cosmos does not conform to human comprehension.

A Bar In The City

Somewhere in Poul Anderson's Harvest Of Stars Tetralogy, unemployed and aimless genetically altered human beings gather in a low life bar and, somewhere on this blog, I have summarized information about that bar. I was reminded of it when Kenri entered a bar in the slum surrounding Kith Town:

a blinking lightsign bottle above a door;
inside, gloom and sour smells;
a few slumped, sullen men;
an obscene moving mural;
a girl who turns away when she recognizes a Kithman;
a bartender who refuses to serve vodsan to a "tumie" (Kith);
a lean, hairless, dead-white, cat-eyed, tentacle-fingered, dice-throwing petty criminal, possibly an assassin, who defies the barman to give Kenri a drink.

Kenri realizes that the criminal is a Special-X, created for a particular purpose, then released. The Special-X wanted to go to space but the Kith would not have him. He sounds like the embittered artificial mutants in that Harvest Of Stars bar - which I have now found: see Dives.

More On Maia

On Maia, Kenri and Nivala drive by rented groundcar into the Tirian desert where they are surrounded by:

flamboyantly colored stone and sand;
hills with fantastically shaped crags;
scattered peppery-odored thornbush;
argent dunes;
thin, cool air.

There are at least two moons, one moving rapidly. A creature wails at a distance. Making a fire, Kenri fries savory fish filets purchased at a waterfarm.

Thus, there is after all a little more information about Maia. Like the planet Morgana, the Tirian desert exists only as a setting for further interaction between Kenri and Nivala.

The History Of Kith Town

Kith Town stood alone before a city grew around it.
750 years after the departure of Envoy, the region of central North America that includes Kith Town was ruled by the Vicar of Isen. See here.
In the time of Kenri's grandparents, centuries dead, the Town was surrounded by bustling commerce.
In his parent's time, it was surrounded by a bourgeois district.
In Kenri's time, the Town (here) is in a bad district and the Kith are oppressed by the Dominancy.
When Envoy returns, ten millennia later, Kith Town, surrounded by ruins, is empty except for robot caretakers and is rarely visited because it can be experienced in virtuals. See here.

Thus, a future history in a single novel.

The Ballad Of Jerry Clawson

The Ballad of Jerry Clawson:

is copyright by its author, Gordon R. Dickson;
is used by permission by Poul Anderson in his novel, Starfarers;
is sung by the Kithman, Kenri Shaun, when he has heard the Star-Free, Nivala Tersis, playing "Sheep May Safely Graze" (see here);
establishes a rapport between Kenri and Nivala;
has a theme similar to Robert Heinlein's story, "The Green Hills of Earth."

Dickson and Heinlein have in common that parts of their series were planned but never written.

Durga And Domine

From the start point of Poul Anderson's works, this blog has developed several sub-themes, including:

gods and goddesses;

One consequence for readers of Poul Anderson's works can be that they appreciate such themes more readily on encountering them elsewhere. Today, I attended a session of chanting and singing in which the Goddess was addressed by the Hindu name, Durga, then God was asked to give peace in the Latin words, "Da pacem, Domine," a chant from Taize (see image).

So live and learn and think of Poul Anderson.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Maia And Morgana In The Kith History

Morgana is not a moon (see here) but a sister planet of Maia;

they orbit 61 Virginis, which is 27.9 light years from Sol, therefore, with time dilation, reachable at near light speeds;

the principle Maian town is Landfall where there are Kith offices and native silvercane with a cinnamon-like odor;

the Terrestrial upper class family, Tersis, acquired large holdings on the humanly uninhabitable Morgana in the pioneering period and still draws income from valuable Morganan biochemicals;

Freelady Nivala Tersis, traveling out in the Kith ship Eagle and returning in the Fleetwing, is the first of her family ever to inspect their Morganan property, although everyone she knew on Earth will be old or dead when she returns decades later;

traveling from Maia to collect Nivala, Kenri Shaun lands at Rodan Spacefield and takes the slideway into Northport;

the transparent tube of the slideway protects him from hot, green, poisonous rain;

in Northport, the Far Frontier Hotel is kept clean by machines but also made shabby by its plantationer clientele.

And that is all the information to be gleaned about the planetary system of 61 Virginis although it is more than I had expected. Poul Anderson created this system only as a setting for the first meeting between Kenri and Nivala.


Over breakfast, no time for a post, except this one. Names for heavenly bodies get recycled between fictional universes. In Starfarers, Kithmen are on the planet Maia and it sounds as if Morgana is on of its moons:

for Maia as the sun of Hermes, see Mornings;
for Morgana as a moon of Avalon, see O Moon Of My Delight.

That is all until much later today or some time tomorrow. Have a good day or night, whichever part of the planet you are on.

The Darkness Of Earth

Kenri makes my point that the Kith do not know how things will be on Earth a thousand years hence. See here. His father has already seen:

"'...fifteen hundred years of history....'"
-Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999), Chapter 21, p. 180 -

- and can tell when things will get worse. The Kith experience what we can only study: planetary history.

Kenri plans to stay on Earth and to marry a member of the highest social stratum, a Star-Free, even though her people, the Dominancy, are currently oppressing his people, the starfaring Kith. His father comments:

"'That girl could as well be of a different species, son...'" (ibid.) (See Aliens Among Us?)

Kenri's father opposes his plans - another generational disagreement (see here) - but which will be proved right? A typical Andersonian pathetic fallacy presages the answer:

"'Good night, son.'
"Kenri returned to the living room, paused to give his mother a hug, and went out into the darkness of Earth." (op. cit., p. 181) (my emphasis)

I am home from the "Indian Evening" and about to retire in preparation for an early start to a long day tomorrow. My life continues on its course while Anderson's characters continue on theirs.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Planets And Centuries In The Kith History

The name of any god, e.g., Rama, can recur as the name of an extrasolar planet, e.g., in the Kith future history here or in The Enemy Stars here.

That proposed thousand year excursion here is not as far fetched as it sounds because Kenri Shaun is already eight hundred years old in Earth time, having made several voyages each amounting to decades or centuries in duration. Kith Town is designed to endure with robotic supervision for centuries whereas no Terrestrial regime lasts that long and the Dominancy was already in decline. See combox here.

I am posting in a brief interval between the Green Fair and the Indian Evening mentioned in recent posts and therefore have not yet got to grips with the economic conflict between the Kith and the Dominancy (see "Ghetto"). However, it takes as long as it takes. I will be back with you all some time later tomorrow or the day after.

A motto that might suit time-dilated space travelers: Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after.

A Neat Solution

Kenri Shaun's father has extra-solar mementos:

a sword made by a four-armed armorer on Marduk;
a view from the moon of the giant planet, Osiris, where frozen gases resemble amber;
horns from a hunting trip on Rama;
a statue of a god from Dagon.

Each of these planets is named after a Terrestrial deity.

Because the Terrestrial Dominancy is oppressing the Kithmen on Earth, the captain and mates of the Shaun's ship consider a thousand year excursion into new regions, the point being that the Dominancy will not last for a thousand years! But the Kith do not know what they will return to after all that time. Will Earth still need whatever they have to sell? Will Kith Town still even exist? Later, we learn that it will be empty except for robot caretakers. See The Venture League.

Time dilation is like one way time travel. An astronomer that I knew claimed that this application of time dilation is invalid because the time gained on the outward journey would be lost on the return journey. My problems are, first, that I do not understand relativistic physics and, secondly, that I have to ask how the universe knows which is an outward journey and which is a return journey.

Kith Town

In Kenri Shaun's time, Kith Town:

is surrounded by towers;

at its edge, has low, clustered, peak-roofed houses surrounded by lawns and trees, many tended by machines while their owners make decades-long interstellar journeys, others abandoned because their occupants will not return;

for internal transport, has a monorail and narrow indurite thoroughfares, including an Aldebaran Street, lit by obsolete glowglobes;

among its families, has children born a century or more ago outside the Solar System and adult Kith who have aged at different rates since they last met;

holds a Fair when starcraft are in.

The glowglobes are obsolete because Kith want to return home to a familiar environment.

I don't think that I have summarized that before: yet another exotic environment imagined by Poul Anderson. (However, see One Future Earth. Also, for Kith Town in other periods, see Word In Starfarers, Chapter 10, here and The Venture League here.)

Starfarers, Chapter 21.


Poul Anderson's Kith future history exists in two versions. See The Two Kith Future Histories here:

the Star Empire exists in the first version though not in the second;

the first version begins with the short story, "Ghetto," whereas the second version comprises the novel, Starfarers, and Chapter 21 of that novel is a revision of "Ghetto";

The Kith history exists in two forms, the first emphasizing trade, the second emphasizing exploration.
-copied from here. 

I propose to discuss Starfarers Chapter 21 in a post about "Class Warriors" (see Two Good Ideas here) but not at this time of night, having just driven back from an annual dinner out in the country. Reading, rereading and blogging continue but at a reduced rate because Earth Real is as eventful as the Earths of fictional timelines. Lenin's The State And Revolution is unfinished because it was interrupted by the outbreak of the October Revolution in 1917. I do not expect events on that scale in Britain in 2017 - although you never know - but meanwhile personal life remains eventful enough. Meanwhile also someone else might reread "Ghetto" or Starfarers Chapter 21 and tell me what they think?

Friday, 17 November 2017

Two Good Ideas

This morning in the swimming pool, I got two good ideas for posts:

one post, on "Class Warriors," will compare a passage in Poul Anderson's Kith future history with a passage in Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' The Communist Manifesto;

the other post, on "Self-Reference," will compare a comment on Anderson's Maurai future history in the same author's There Will Be Time with a passage in Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice.

Alert readers might deduce to which passages I refer.

But it might be a while before either post gets written. This weekend just got busier. To the activities listed here have been added:

helping Aileen with a musical event that she organizes;
attending an "Indian Evening" at another friend's house tomorrow.

Onwards and upwards.

Thursday, 16 November 2017


For reasons that make sense at the time, David Falkayn pretends that he needs privacy for meditation. His acquaintance with Adzel enables him to waffle about Buddhism:

the purer Buddhist sects are agnostic;
they do not require belief in reincarnation in the usual sense;
nirvana can be attained before death and consists of -

Falkayn is interrupted. I would like to know what he had been going to say about nirvana. Instead, SM Stirling's Wiccan character, Orlaith, gives us some insight into spiritual realization:

a man whom she kills with her mystical Sword looks as if a veil has been lifted, revealing to him the absolute truth of his existence;

Wiccans expect such a realization after death;

the only post-death punishment is full knowledge of the cause and consequence of all your actions.

"Right now she was realizing that that might be just as serious as the Christians' hellfire."
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, p. 678.

Maybe it is the Christian's hellfire?

"Nothing burns in Hell but the self." (See here.)

I think that any such realizations precede death but religions give us stories about a hereafter.


Poul Anderson, primarily known as a science fiction writer:

was a Sherlock Holmes fan;
wrote detective fiction;
sometimes synthesized detective fiction with sf, e.g., see here;
at least once, synthesized detective fiction with fantasy.

So are Anderson fans also Holmes fans? And do they read other detective fiction? If so, which authors?

I have read:

all of Homes;
a lot of Montalbano;
Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy;
Anderson's Trygve Yamamura Trilogy and one Yamamura short story -

- and, of course, a few other novels, e.g., I highly recommend A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine.

However, no way am I a fan of detective fiction in general. Once, I found a bookshop that sold nothing else and had no interest in browsing through the shelves.

(Sheila watches Father Brown on television.)

Say It With Flowers

Dominic Flandry has stunned some guardsmen:

"Wildflowers grew round about, long-stemmed and white-petaled. Flandry folded all four pairs of hands on breasts and put a flower in each."
-Poul Anderson, "The Warriors From Nowhere" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 303-337 AT p. 327.

Enemy pickets have been spelled to sleep, then hit on the head:

"With a grin she used the dirk to snip two roses from the feral bush by the wall, then sheathed it and arranged the two militiamen on their backs with their hands crossed on their chests and the flowers tucked into their fingers."
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, p. 671.

A sense of humor in two universes.

Spirits Of The Air II

I feel obliged to follow Spirits Of The Air (here) by linking to two earlier posts:

Garuda And Going Bird is about Christopher Holm who has "gone bird," i.e., joined an Ythrian choth, and flies with a gravbelt;

Flying Men shows similarities between Olaf Stapledon's Seventh Men and Poul Anderson's Ythrians.


Stapledon has flying Venerians worshiping a god-bird;
Anderson has Ythrians worshiping God the Hunter, also human choth members and, elsewhere, Diomedeans;
Stirling has an airship named after a Hindu god-bird in his Angrezi Raj and hang-gliders in his High Kingdom of Montival.

As the Ythrians sing and as Stirling's Father Ignatius also says:

"High is heaven, and holy..." (see here)

Spirits Of The Air

Funny that we should mention kayaking because the next item in SM Stirling's The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, is hang-gliding:

"...this was as close to a bird's dance with the spirits of the Air as human beings could come." (p. 665)

Human members of Ythrian choths on Avalon in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization would disagree because they soar on antigravity belts, a technology far beyond the reach of Stirling's Changelings.


I have heard from a guy called Chris Cole who commented by email on an earlier post about kayaks etc (see here) and sent me a link to his post on this topic. See here.

This blog is about anything that comes up while reading Poul Anderson or related authors so, although my preference is for philosophy, I am happy to relay information about kayaking!

Mithras And Mary

"'Tene Mithra, etiam miles, fidos nostris votis nos!'" (See here.) (And, for images of Mithras, see here, here and here.)

"'Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.'"
-SM Stirling, The Desert And The Blade (New York, 2016), Chapter Twenty-Seven, p. 664.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

Poul and Karen Anderson's Roman centurion, Gratillonius, addressed Mithras in Latin which remained the language of the Church long after the Empire. Stirling's Emberverse Catholics have revived Latin prayers.

How do these two Latin prayers differ?

They are addressed to different beings, a god and the mother of a god;

Catholics might be unique in praying to someone to ask her to pray to someone else?

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Zen II

There are occasional references to Zen in Poul Anderson's works as in other fiction, e.g., see Sir!, combox. Wanda Tamberly is "not into" Zen. (Quiz question: Where are we told this?) So what is it? I tried to describe zazen here. However, since this practice is experiential and subjective, it has to be described anew each time. A more recent attempt is here. This newer post ends by indicating the point or purpose of such practice. Zazen addresses problems caused by unreflecting thought.

Anderson's Abilities And Achievements II

See Anderson's Abilities And Achievements here.

What did I miss? (More can be added here.) (in fact, see the combox.)

Poul Anderson adapted Norse mythology as fiction contemporaneously with and independently of J.R.R. Tolkien.

He wrote both pulp space opera and serious speculative fiction, sometimes with the same central character.

He made several original contributions to time travel fiction and was a major successor of HG Wells.

His future histories are more imaginative and convincing than those of some better known authors whom I will not name here.

He made many authentic contributions to sf series created by other authors.