Monday, 12 March 2018

On Nyanza

One kind of Nyanzan ship is called a "...kraken-chaser..." ("The Game of Glory," p. 321) (For full reference, see here.) And see Kraken.

Is it feasible that people would colonize a planet where a town or city is submerged at high tide so that buildings would have to be watertight with air locks? Nyanzans live by fishing, hunting kraken, collecting shells at low tide or diving for them at high tide. They work and travel in ships and swim short distances wearing transparent helmets and aqualungs that electrolyze oxygen from water. Thus, they are always on or under the water except on the rare occasions when they visit the single island on the planet for trade or diplomacy. (The Imperial Resident resides there.)

"Sunset blazed across violet waters. The white spume of the breakers was turned an incredible gold; tide pools on the naked black skerry were like molten copper. The sky was deep blue in the east, still pale overhead, shading to a clear cloudless green where the sun drowned. Through the surf's huge hollow crashing and grinding, Flandry heard bells from one of the many rose-red spires...or did a ship's bell ring among raking spars, or was it something he had heard in a dream once? Beneath all the noise, it was unutterably peaceful." (p. 323)

The sights and sounds merge with Flandry's imaginings. The sound of a bell from a sunken city recalls Ys. This sunset is simply the end of a day, not a symbol for the decline of Empire or the descent of man.

Approaching Nyanza

"The Game of Glory" (for reference, see here) tells us another of Flandry's hobbies. When he establishes radio contact with Nyanza:

"Most of him was listening to the fellow's accent. The inexhaustible variations on Anglic were a hobby of his." (p. 308)

How many planets does Poul Anderson describe as seen from space? Is this the best way to see a planet? Here is Nyanza:

"Nyanza shone before him, the clearest and most beautiful blue of his life, streaked with white cloud-belts and shuddering with great auroral streamers." (p. 307)

There are two moons. The fellow on the radio explains that there are:

no continents;
a medium-sized island, Altla;
rocks and reefs, "...submerged at double high tide, or even at Loa high." (p. 308)

Is Loa one of the moons? Is it named after the Loa? How many planets in the Technic History are mostly covered with water?

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Planet Stories, January 1951, contained:

"Witch of the Demon Seas" by A.A. Craig (Poul Anderson);
"Tiger by the Tail" by Poul Anderson.

The cover (see image) advertises the first of these two works, then adds "Also POUL ANDERSON"

In the revised text of "Tiger by the Tail," the barbarian, but newly industrialized, terrestroid planet, Scotha, sounds quaint:

modern industry, moved into space, has not been allowed to pollute the planetary environment;

there is no poisoned soil or polluted air or water;

there are no mines, highways or megalopolises;

population has been controlled;

there is extra-planetary colonization in artificial environments and in other systems;

there are three billion Scothani, two thirds off Scotha;

three small moons make the seas turbulent;

observing through instruments while approaching from space, Flandry sees -

green, in different shades from Terra;
broad forests;
rich plains, cultivated or grazed;
picturesque old villages;
steep-walled castles;
gleaming rivers and snow-peaks;
skies thronged with wings;
occasionally glimpsed sleek industrial buildings;
new towers in cities;
air traffic;
the ancient many-bannered stronghold of the Frithian kings on the peak of a mountain where a city now sprawls down the slopes and for kilometers beyond.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Catawrayannis on Llynathawr cannot compete either with Starfall on Hermes (and here) or with Zorkagrad on Dennitza 
(and here) but nevertheless impresses the reader as a real place:

the Governor's palace, big and pastel-tinted with domes and colonnades, is surrounded by gardens on its high hill;
below are terraced civil service buildings;
the wealthy live around the hill;
other dwellings blend into farms to the west and the city to the east;
the Luana River has low commercial towers on one side and slums on the other;
there is a haze and a cool spring breeze;
there are vehicles in the streets and the sky;
there are also peaceful trees - and a space warcraft passing overhead -

- a quiet environment and preparations for war.

It is also where James Ching eventually settled.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Talwin And Beringia

(Chalcolithic artifacts.)

On Talwin, most Ruadrath societies are chalcolithic. I have learned by googling this word.

Merseians studying the two intelligent species, Ruadrath and Domrath, on the planet Talwin in Poul Anderson's A Circus Of Hells resemble the Time Patrol studying the Paleo-Indians in Beringia in 13,211 B.C. in Anderson's The Shield Of Time. In both cases, the natives accept without question the sudden arrival of powerful strangers who, however, must not disrupt the natives' lives too much. Needless to say, Dominic Flandry on Talwin and Wanda Tamberly in Beringia find ways to be disruptive.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Return From Satan

Leaving the safety of the hurricane, Muddlin' Through rises slowly and rides a stratospheric current between the worst weather below and boiled-off vapors re-condensing into vast, sky-darkening, turbulent masses above. Her radar and other detectors penetrate the condensing masses as she approaches space. Anderson conveys that major natural events ceaselessly occur in Satan's cataclysmic environment and I have tried to re-convey this idea through succinct summaries.

Having disposed of nineteen pursuing robotic destroyers in the Satanic atmosphere, Muddlin' Through must fight three robotic cruisers orbiting incautiously close in inadvisably tight formation with attention directed outward, mistakenly expecting an attack from space. (Falkayn has not only utilized the turbulent planetary environment but also bluffed his enemy.)

While Muddlin' Through is still in the atmosphere, she fires three of her four nuclear missiles and destroys two of the cruisers. The third cruiser successfully deploys a counter-missile but is badly damaged by a near miss from Muddlin' Through's last torpedo. The damaged cruiser and the command battleship, now crewed by just one Shenn, retreat on hyperdrive. Muddlin' Through has won. She returns to space but stays near the planet with systems throttled down to conceal her continued existence from the retreating ships.

Return To Satan

Muddlin' Through returns to Satan where there are:

crazy winds;
mountainous ocean waves torn to spume;
air nearly solid with rain, hail and flung stones;
one immense convulsion where it seems no ship may descend.

Atmosphere strikes. The hull rings. Lightning explodes in darkness. Despite interior regulators, the deck pitches, yaws, falls and rises. Lights flicker. The computer, Muddlehead, keeps the ship in the safe region of a hurricane that is a dead spot in a continental storm driving half an ocean before it whereas the nineteen pursuing robot spacecraft, blown away like dead leaves, are variously:

bounced around and cast aside;
peeled open;
broken apart by meteroidal matter;
tossed against mountains.

Muddlin' Through, using cloud cover, returns aloft to fight the attacking cruisers that will be unable to detect her in the electric noise.

Each new description of Satan is as fresh as the last.