Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Terra And SHAPE?

(Notice the inaccurate blurb.)

What kind of post title is that? What are Terra and SHAPE?

"Terra" is the Latin word for "Earth" and is used as a name for Earth in some futuristic sf. For example, there is a Terran Empire in Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization. "Terran" is an adjective coined by sf writers as an alternative to "Terrestrial." Anderson's Imperials speak Anglic which is derived from English so they might retain the Latin root, "Terr-," but with different endings. The Esperanto for "earth" and "terrestrial" are "tero" and "tera," as I had anticipated:

Latin root;
phonetic spelling;
"-o," the noun ending;
"-a," the adjectival ending.

"Terran Empire" entails a politically unified Earth. The Empire might have been merely planetary but we know, of course, that it is interstellar.

And I have arrived at my lunch break before explaining SHAPE.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Inaccurate blurb in this edition of FLANDRY OF TERRA? Yes,it should have been INTERSTELLAR, not "intergalactic."

    And I prefer "Terran" as the adjective over "Terrestrial." The former "flows" more smoothly, IMO. I think Robert Heinlein called the state which unified Earth in STARSHIP TROOPER the Terran Federation. And in Drake/Stirling's THE GENERAL series, the fallen interstellar civilization which existed long before the events of that series was also called the Terran Federation.


  2. Paul and Sean:
    H. Beam Piper set several stories in (or after) a Terran Federation. In "A Slave Is a Slave," an official of the Galactic Empire tells some new subjects:
    "The Terran Federation ... failed, and vanished; you know what followed. Darkness and anarchy. We are clawing our way up out of that darkness. We will not fail. We will create a peaceful and unified galaxy."

    (To which I feel compelled to add, "Now witness the firepower of this FULLY ARMED AND OPERATIONAL battle station!")

    Cover blurbs that don't grasp the difference between "stellar" and "galactic" are so much the rule that I scarcely notice them anymore. For one hard-sf series, set entirely in the Solar System with no trace of interstellar travel, the second book's back cover referred to the spaceship as a "galactic cruiser."

    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      Ha!!! I would expect the agents of renascent or rising unifying states to have some MUSCLE behind them, to back up their claims and assertions. I need to remedy my ignorance of the works of H. Beam Piper.

      I know, you are right, people who write cover blurbs who are unable to grasp the distinction between "interstellar" and "intergalactic" are frequent. But it still jars me when I see such a needless blooper.


    2. Sean:
      "In principle, one simply informed the planetary government that it was now subject to the sovereignty of his Imperial Majesty, the Galactic Emperor.... To make sure that the announcement carried conviction, the presumedly glad tidings wee accompanied by the Imperial Space Navy, at present represented by ... a seven ship battle-line unit, and two thousand Imperial Landing-Troops."

      The flagship was "almost a mile in diameter." Two cruisers also serving as troop transports were each 3000 feet across. Four destroyers were presumably smaller; their dimensions aren't given. And the planetary regime being annexed in this particular story was so incompetent that their world was effectively defenseless:
      "There are eight big launching cradles for panplanetary or off-planet missiles. They are all polished up like the Crown Jewels. But none, repeat none, of them is operative. And there is not a single missile on the installation."

    3. Kaor, DAVID!

      It's interesting to compare this with Anderson's Terran Empire. The Empire arose as a reaction to the chaos of the Time of Troubles after the collapse of the Solar Commonwealth and the Polesotechnic League. Altho conquest was sometimes used, many planets, traumatized by the Troubles, were willing, even eager to join the Empire. I think the standard procedure for voluntary annexation, if I can use the example of the planet Freehold in "Outpost Of Empire," was for the planetary authorities to formally petition the Imperium for annexation. Envoys from both parties would meet to discuss the terms and conditions of the treaty of annexation. Then, based on that treaty, the Imperium would grant the annexed planet a charter outlining how the planet would govern itself in the Empire, along with any obligations it owed the Imperium (such as the amount of tribute it would pay).

      And I wonder how large real world space battle ships will be? I can imagine some, such as the superdreadnoughts seen in some of Anderson's Flandry stories, being VERY large. Others, like destroyers, will be fairly small.