Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Last Post (This Month)

I expect to be busy today and tomorrow so this will be the last post for October. It is a restful experience to reread Poul Anderson's Virgin Planet immediately after his "Virgin Planet." Both begin with Corporal Maiden Barbara Whitley of Freetoon on orsper(horse-bird)-back and both end with Davis Bertram blushing. The story between is known but Virgin Planet is fifty pages longer so that there are plenty of additional details to appreciate. In fact, there seems to be an entire extra incident in a casteless "Burketown" that I have not reached yet.

We are told that:

"...this central continent was a labyrinth of mountains." (Virgin Planet, London, 1966, p. 60)

- and Anderson adds in the Author's Note that:

"(Later this continent was named Labyrinth.)" (p. 154)

Thus, Anderson had thought out a lot more background material than appears in the stories. Extra installments could have been set on Labyrinth after the long isolated Atlantis had been integrated into the Stellar Union.

Also, Davis is a potential series character who could have been shown exploring other planetary systems. Like Dominic Flandry, he regularly exercises in double gravity not because he likes it - he doesn't - but because a fit body is an asset. However, the two characters are otherwise dissimilar. Davis lives comfortably on inherited money, takes life easy and seeks personal glory whereas Flandry works hard to prolong the life of his threatened civilization.

Davis' Stellar Union is also threatened but, in this case, the causes are not apparent. It is simply that the Coordination Service cannot integrate all the data. According to the Chronology at the end of Starship, "Virgin Planet" is set in 3100 and the Third Dark Ages begin in 3200.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

So, the timeline for the Psychotechnic League stories dates the collapse of the Stellar Union to 3200, barely a century after Davis Bertram discovered the lost colony of Atlantis? Then it was darn lucky for the Atlanteans that they were able to restore roughly a 50/50 man/woman ratio for normal reproduction before then. No one seems to have thought of it, but I've been wondering how LONG the women of Atlantis could have depended on artificially induced parthenogesis for reproduction before the 300 plus years old machine needed for this finally broke down. That would have doomed them unless explorers like Davis Bertram had quickly found Atlantis.


Paul Shackley said...

An excellent question.