Monday, 17 October 2016
In The Pleiades II
The four other human beings on Ivanhoe with Thomas Overbeck and Juan Hernandez are Ram Gupta, Nickolai Suychev, Mamorn Noguchi and Philip Feinberg. Their job is to:
establish a base;
learn local ways;
persuade Ivanhoans to accept trade goods in exchange for harvesting the adir plant which grows only in the local desert and secretes materials valuable for new organic syntheses;
prepare for the arrival of the base staff.
Since the staff will bring their families, including small children, Juan's plans for a Christmas party do not seem so inappropriate after all. The five younger men decorate the rooms and passages of the dome with foil or metal ornaments, bake cookies and whistle cheerfully, thus boosting efficiency in the grim surroundings. (Even Scrooge would have to approve of cheerfulness that boosted efficiency and Overbeck is not Scrooge.)
The old ruined city is, after all, inhabited, at least the parts that have neither collapsed nor, like the former Imperial Palace, been quarried into shapeless rubble. There are lords in castles, priests behind porticos and riders on narrow-snouted, feathery-furred animals. Again, I wonder whether some League apprentices might need to be trained in how to disregard feelings of fear or unease when spending extended periods in close proximity with bizarre-looking organisms.
A classic conflict is brewing between the city-dwellers and the nomads so Terrestrial diplomatic skills, and "Peace on Ivanhoe," are going to be needed.