Sunday, 11 May 2014

Life On Aeneas

Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 23 April 2012.

Anderson does not just tell us that his characters are on another planetary surface but presents enough colorful details to evoke an exotic environment.


Year nearly twice Terran; rotation: 20 hours, 19 minutes, a few seconds.

Little rain; no snow; dead seas; drought; cold; hurricane winds; drifting dust; scouring sand; water rare and precious but some rivers, canals, marshes and salt lakes.


The Aenean equivalent of grass, fire trava, is "...onyx tinged with red and yellow..." (1) Its daytime odor is "...flint and sparks..." (1) It curls into a springy mat at night. There is also bloom trava and sword trava as well as starkwood and daggerbushes. Trees are "...native delphi and rahab, Terran oak and acacia, Llynathawrian rasmin, Ythrian hammerbranch." (2) 

We are told that:

"True blossoms had never evolved on Aeneas, though a few kinds of leaf or stalk had bright hues." (2) 

Beside a spring, "Plume trava nodded white above mossy chromabryon; spearflies darted silver bright..." (3)


Horses and green, six-legged stathas were imported for agricultural use. Terran-descended but gene-modified and adapted cattle are a new genus. Small, three-eyed "lucks," kept as pets or mascots by tinerans, are extra-Aenean but pre-human. Tinerans also keep big, well feathered neomoas. An ula flaps overhead. There is a native tadmouse. Hazards on the Ironland plain include spider wolves and catavales. On the river, "...long-bodied webfooted brown osels..." are used to herd "...fat, flippered, snouted chuho - water pigs..." which "...browsed on wetcress." (4)
There is more. As with Avalon, Anderson evokes not only a planetary environment but also the adaptation to that environment of human beings and their imported species.
(1) Poul Anderson, The Day Of Their Return, London, 1978, p. 9.
(2) ibid., p. 37.
(3) ibid., p. 79.
(4) ibid., p. 120.

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