Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Galactic Wonder

I first read Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein some time in the period 1956-60. It was then a novelty for me to read a matter of fact prose account of a young man's first glimpse of an extraterrestrial. I get something of the same feeling reading Poul Anderson's account, in World Without Stars (New York, 1966), of two men drinking cocktails on a porch with space dropping away from them on the galactic rim. The galaxy streams past their viewport and they look beyond it. See also how I felt while reading a chapter in a book by James Blish here.

In World Without Stars, Captain Argens tells Hugh Valland that they will be dealing with some Yonderfolk, i.e., extra-galactics. Valland asks. "'Like M 31?'" (Chapter II, p. 12) Googling reveals, to my surprise, that this is the Andromeda Galaxy.

When James Blish's John Amalfi discusses traveling between galaxies, he says that the nearest, apart from Andromeda, is NGC 6822, about a million light years away. See here. Knowing that both Valland and Amalfi had referred to another galaxy, I had to check whether it was the same one. Intergalactic sf is rare. It is good to read about journeys not to Mars or Proxima Centauri but to M31 and NGC 6822.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And a word like "intergalactic" can also be carelessly used. I've seen that word being used for the blurbs of various novels and movies (I think) when it would have been more accurate to say "interstellar."