Saturday, 14 January 2017

Stark Splendor And Drifting Clouds

When a Poul Anderson character looks out of a spaceship, we expect a vivid description of the stars seen from space, e.g.:

"...our view straight outward is of stark splendor, a black sky blazing with stellar myriads and the shining belt of the Milky Way."
-Poul Anderson, Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 2016), p. 11.

See also here.

The view in Tales is from a turret on the side of a spaceship but we are also told that the turret is higher than "...most of the atmosphere..." (ibid.) Atmosphere outside a spaceship? Yes: exterior air, clouds, a park, grass, flowers, trees and a pool. There is also "...a geegee unit..." (p. 12), which is sufficient explanation. With gyrogravitics, it has been possible to terraform the asteroids and now the outside of an interstellar spaceship. More will be done to make both the interior and the exterior habitable as the voyage proceeds and the population grows.

Tales does not assume FTL but does assume complete control of artificial gravitational fields. This distinctive premise differentiates this future history from others by Anderson or anyone else. Thus, a single premise gives a creative writer seven stories plus several pages of dense interstitial material. A comparable collection is Asimov's I, Robot which also has a single premise based on a technological advance, interstitial passages and the beginning of interstellar travel.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think it should be stressed that the "Astra" was actually a terraformed asteroid turned into a space ship by means of gyrogravitics. And I only wish we had gyrogravitics for real!