Sunday, 21 May 2017

Endless Comparisons

Because I find it more convenient to read a book in the hand than an ebook on screen and because I prefer sf to detective fiction, I have easily been diverted from reading Poul Anderson's Murder In Black Letter to rereading James Blish's The Star Dwellers while comparing:

Blish's Haertel overdrive with Anderson's Mach drive;
Jack Loftus with Dominic Flandry;
Jack's mentor, Howard Langer, with Flandry's mentor, Max Abrams;
the Hegemony of Malis with the Roidhunate of Merseia;
Anderson's, Niven's and Blish's feline aliens (Blish's remain quadrupedal).

Other comparisons and contrasts are possible. Flandry's contemporary, John Ridenour, reflects that the universe produces sophonts as casually as snowflakes. Langer goes further, claiming that intelligences arises wherever it can. In Langer's period, the evidence has proved him right but he claims that this was expected. Is it?

For heuristic purposes, Blish's foreign service cadets are under an oath of celibacy whereas Flandry is anything but. In fact, Abrams plans to make Machiavellian use of his assistant's sexual activity: have the Ensign sent Home in disgrace - carrying military intelligence with him under the noses of the appeasers.

Blish's industrialist, McCrary, has got one of the energy beings called Angels to inhabit and control a fusion plant for him and wants to employ Angels to do this all over Earth whereas the Secretary for Space more prudently wants a treaty with the Angelic race or nation first. Would Anderson's capitalists be more cautious? CS Lewis (the character) knows that his friend, Elwin Ransom, receives visits and communications from extra-planetary angels and fears that Ransom is a beachhead for invasion. In the horror sf of Quatermass, any alien visitation could only be a threat.

Tomorrow, I will travel to Birmingham by train, carrying a book but not my laptop.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well, Anderson did write he enjoyed composing the Yamamura books but stopped because SF and F paid better. I do wonder how that series might have developed if Anderson had written more Yamamura books.

And we still don't know for SURE if non human alien rational races exist on other planets. I, personally, believe they do. Because I find it totally irrational to think our galaxy, never mind all other galaxies, has only one intelligent race. More than a hundred billion stars and only one planet orbiting around one star, has an intelligent race?????

At least Fladndry was decent enough to object Abrams' proposal vis a vis Persis d'Io. And I don't think Abrams much liked it either, because he did say the Intelligence Corps would give her some assistance if this maneuver caused her to break up with Lord Hauksberg.

But did Blish's Angels/energy beings have some kind of nation, authority, or gov't which could claim to speak for them? If not, there would not be much use in trying to make a treaty with them.

Still a bit stuck on my "Night Piece" essay. I'm feeling the need to reread that tough story.


Paul Shackley said...

Of course the diplomatic team needed to find out whether or how the Angels were organized.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Exactly! And whether whatever kind of society or state the "Angels" could speak for them all. Or at least most of them.

And, in "Kyrie," we see Poul Anderson's owe take on "energy beings."