Monday, 30 January 2017


A link here to a picture of me as a butler led to Sean M Brooks' comment on a butler in Poul Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains. This led to a rereading of Tales and to comparisons of it with several other future histories. (See recent posts.) Meanwhile, I am reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem and watching Smallville but have finished reading Reality Is Not What It Seems. An early project will be to return to reading SM Stirling's Dies The Fire. Meanwhile, real life gets in the way.

Addendum: However, real life can provide material for blogging. Either someone says something relevant to sf (see here) or sometimes I provide background info about Lancaster, which is one of our Great Cities alongside York, New York, Ys, Archopolis etc although I cannot imagine Lancaster becoming one of James Blish's Okie cities because it would not have any industry to take into space.

"Earth itself became a garden planet, bearing only one city worth noticing, the sleepy capitol of a galaxy."
-James Blish, Earthman, Come Home (London, 1963), p. 13.

Lancaster is historically a "city" but physically a small town so it would belong on that future Earth where I would haunt not the Castle but the quay.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Very amusing! I clicked on your link and got sent to your "Conspiracy" blog piece discussing alleged plots and terms like "Grey Pope." And that in turn reminded me of "grey eminence" and its use in politics (and how PA used it in at least two of his books).

    I have noticed you sometimes referring to Lancaster and local events/history. But I find it difficult to imagine any city on Earth becoming the capital of the galaxy and being SLEEPY! I think such a city would be far more like Archopolis and Admiralty Center.

    I look forward to any comments you care to make about Stirling's DIES THE FIRE and its sequels. More than once I have found Andersonian allusions in those books (as well as others of Stirling's works). Some may have been accidental while others could only have been deliberate.

    As usual, the chief difficulty I have with Stirling's works is the implausibility of how often he had women soldiers or warriors. An idea I found even more difficult to swallow in a low technology setting (in both the Nantucket books and the DtF series). Like it or not, most women simply don't have the strength and stamina of most men in their prime. And I have seen real world military or ex military people complaining of the problems this has caused.

    Stirling could JUST make me suspend my disbelief on this point in his four DRAKA books. For reasons I've explained elsewhere.


    1. Sean,
      I think that Blish's point is that most of the economic and political action has moved elsewhere so that there is not much left for the Earth government to do.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      In that case, I would argue for it to make far more sense to think the REAL capital would move to where the "center" of the action would be. A real world analogy would be how, in the Later Roman Empire, the actual, real capital of the Empire was less and less the city of Rome, because economic and political and military factors made Rome less suitable to be the capital.


    3. Sean,
      Yes. I think that, in this Earth confederation, the power is mostly decentralized into various condensations and clusters.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      I'm not sure. My recollection of Blish's Flying Cities universe was that Earth officials and military forces still acted under orders sent from EARTH. If so, it still seems odd to think of the capital of the galaxy being "sleepy."