Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Tuscan Winter

In science fiction, we value ideas and their implications: speculation and extrapolation. Because sf is fiction, not theory, the implications must affect not abstract statistical populations but concrete fictional characters, who must therefore inhabit fully realized settings and environments.

Poul Anderson and SM Stirling present such an environment at each new stage of any fictional narrative. Because the Draka exploit not only nature but also the rest of humanity to the full, their social environment is always luxurious:

lunch in the solarium;
outside, a misty garden in a Tuscan winter;
inside, warmth, a tinkling rock-fountain and smells of coffee, seafood and fresh bread;
the leisure to chew shrimp meditatively...
(The Stone Dogs, p. 333)

Here for once the characters, and vicariously the reader, are gifted with all five of the senses:

what is seen outside "...through the clear crystal..." (ibid.);
indoor warmth;
the tinkling of the fountain;
three pleasant smells;
the taste of shrimp.

The Draka have much to conserve - and also much to fear if their Domination is threatened.

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