Sunday, 8 June 2014

On The Highroad River III

Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 1 July 2013.

On the planet Daedalus, the capital city, Aurea, and the colony, Paz, are two very different human institutions. The next stop down the Highroad River, Lulach, is mainly a Cynthian town so is different again.

Cynthians are essentially large - although not human-sized - intelligent squirrels. I think that they are implausible aliens and indeed Poul Anderson went on to write speculative fiction in which there are no such beings on other planets. Harvest Of Stars and Genesis are entire alternative future histories.

In Lulach, houses are under or even in the trees. Branches can support and conceal them because imported Cynthian vegetation often grows enormous. Plants grow on roofs and flowering vines on walls. Dwellers usually travel between branches rather than on the narrow, twisting, turf streets. Whereas northern farms are mechanized, Lulachans use horses and changtus as beasts of burden.

The Lulachan police station is run by Lieutenant Commander Miguel Gomez supported by Lieutenant Rihu An, a Cynthian. Large buildings on the waterfront include "...a rambling timber inn..." called the Inn of Tranquil Slumber (Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, pp. 326, 345), yet another Andersonian hostelry. Near the waterfront is the Zacharian dealership. The factor, Pele Zachary speaks accented Anglic because Zacharians, on their island in the Phosphoric Ocean, regularly speak several other languages. In addition to presenting plausible Tigeries, Cynthians, Wodenites, Merseians etc, any screen adaptation of the Technic Civilization History would have to use human actors speaking, if not Anglic with English subtitles, then at least English pronounced with the various different colonial and planetary accents.

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