Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Happy Endings

How often does this, or something like it, happen in Poul Anderson's works? A, trapped or in danger, orders B, who is nearby, to depart without delay. Instead, B rescues A, then departs without further delay. Thus, successful insubordination. At the end of Satan's World, Falkayn and Chee Lan disobey orders and risk their own lives by rescuing van Rijn and Adzel. This turns out to be a Good Thing not only because of the rescue but also because Muddlehead's bombardment gives the Shenna a taste of the kind of nuclear warfare that they were preparing to inflict on much larger populations.

The concluding Chapter XXVI presents three happy endings:

(i) in Dathynan orbit;
(ii) in a Terrestrial garden;
(iii) in Muddlin' Through.

(i) The Solar Commonwealth is referred to as the Terrestrial Commonwealth but I suppose that either name will suffice. Later in the Technic History, a Solar Empire is renamed the Terran Empire. See here.

Fleet Admiral Wiaho of the Polesotechnic League, a Ferran, is happy because the Shenna are being pacified and integrated into the interstellar economy. The Shenna do not resent being ordered around by someone demonstrably stronger. Freelady Beldaniel, League liaison with the Shenna, is happy because the race that raised her is not being exterminated. The only people unhappy are Commonwealth politicians like Garver and Anderson thinks that this will make his readers happy! (I think that Anderson's stereotypical dichotomy between freedom-loving entrepreneurs and up-tight bureaucrats becomes a little strained at times.)

(ii) Van Rijn is in a garden beneath palm trees, above blue water and white surf, with girls bringing him drinks and smokes, watching a screened view of Satan, starting to dictate terms to "...the mightiest industrialists in the known galaxy." (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 597) What's not to like? And can we begrudge van Rijn his luxury when we have seen what he goes through to get it?

(iii) Muddlin' Through is outward bound. The team members are rich but want to continue pioneering in any case. The ending implies that the series will continue. It will but not as before. Anderson gives us not a TV series but successive stages in the careers of his characters and the decline of their League.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well, to be frank, I was not unhappy to see politicians and bureaucrats like Edward Garver unhappy! Far too often, the ideas and policies they advocate are ineffectual and end up by making the state both incompetent and despotic. We are seeing that right now in both the US and UK.