Thursday, 11 September 2014
Only birds are mobile enough to survive and flourish in the Atlantean environment made turbulent by the tidal influences of the giant planet and four other inner moons. Tides are variable but always high, up to seven times Terrestrial.
The inner hemisphere has fish, reptiles and birds but no mammals. The following are all birds except the orcfish and maybe the carnivores.
Orspers: "horse-birds," used for riding, bigger than ostriches, with white, blue-tipped feathers and hawk-like heads;
aquils: swoop down from the rafters for food in the dining hall;
stampers: larger grazing herds, hunted for meat;
jacklins and wolfers: dangerous carnivores;
peepers: small and round with large eyes, parrot-like beaks and a lethal poisonous bite;
"seal-birds" (unknown to Freetooners, first encountered after crossing the Ridge): like large, penguin-feathered seals with dangerous flippers, beaks and jaws, they attack but can be roasted and eaten;
not named in the text: tame birds with colored tails in the garden of Lysum;
corvoids: they moult;
muckbirds: they are not regarded highly;
orcfish: military tunics are made from their scaled hides.
Atlanteans have "birdnaps," not catnaps (p. 38).
Anderson tells us in the Author's Note, not in the text, that there are a few primitive mammals, never seen by the colonists, on the outer hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the primary, Minos.
If we cast the net wider to include animals elsewhere in the Minoan system, then the Mars-like moon Theseus has an atmosphere and, according to the novel, "...signs of intelligent life..." (Virgin Planet, New York, 1982, p. 63). Thus, when the Stellar Union integrates Minos, it will have to deal both with the Atlantean colonists who have been isolated for three hundred years and with Thesesian natives.