Thursday, 1 December 2016
Rudyard Kipling shows us life, including covert Intelligence operations, in British India. Ian Fleming shows us life, including Intelligence activity, in exotic locations like Jamaica and Japan during the Cold War. Poul Anderson shows us life in the even more exotic location of the planet Avalon as his Terran characters discuss the difficulty of spying within an alien society. Their agents can penetrate the human population of Avalon but cannot learn anything that is not already public knowledge. Human Avalonians no longer think, talk or even walk like Imperials and imitating them is unfeasible. Back on Earth, James Bond must be disguised as a deaf and dumb Japanese miner.
-copied from here.
The same problem arises when the Nantucket Trans-Continental Expedition must spy on an enemy encampment. Only one of their number is sufficiently like the locals to pass as a visiting trader:
"To her, the differences between her people and these dwellers in the sunset lands were obvious, easy to see at a glance - her people were taller, with a different cast of face. But the enemy would see what they expected and no more."
-SM Stirling, On The Oceans Of Eternity (New York, 2000), Chapter Seventeen, p. 350.
Spring Indigo uses a mental technique to estimate numbers in the encampment and tries to be like a still pool or mirror to reflect - and remember. And we remember Roy Tully in Rolfeston, New Virginia... a long time ago in another universe.