Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 22 May 2014.

Fans of Poul Anderson's History Of Technic Civilization know somewhat of the major planets such as Terra, Hermes, Merseia and Avalon but what do we know of Llynathawr apart from its name (which we do not know how to spell)? Yet another entire planet sketched briefly by Anderson, Llynathawr was discovered by Cynthians and bought by the Terran Empire, has good climate and scenery and rich natural resources, is close to Sector Naval HQ on Ifri and has trade opportunities with both Imperial and barbarian planets.

Llynathawr's single (?) city, Catawrayannis (population: two million), on the Luana River, houses the hill top palace of the Governor of Sector Alpha Crucis. This frontier Sector also contains the Virgilian System, with inhabited Dido and colonized Aeneas, and the industrial rogue planet Satan which, at the time of the McCormac Rebellion, was an ancient possession of the Duke of Hermes, a colony planet in Sector Antares.

In the previous volume, the planet Irumclaw, with its empty suburban mansions, was described as:

"...like a piece of wreckage at the edge of the receding tide of empire."
 -Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 204.

Llynthawr has seen not a receding tide but a false dawn. The planet was bought in order to "...strengthen this frontier by attracting settlers." (p. 400) However, few people any longer leave comfortable environments for new beginnings in remote places and those few prefer town to country. Also, nearer colonials like Aeneans are already settled and unwilling to move. Thus, Catawrayannis is surrounded by sparsely lit wilderness.

The new Governor's audience chamber has a gold and black "...live-fur carpet..." (p. 402). A living surface, like grass underfoot? It also has many moving lights and dynasculps, incense, low music, an animated Imperial court masquerade covering one wall and an enormous inscribed portrait of the Emperor behind the chair of state. Subtle bad taste, reflecting Governor Snelund's personality.

An interesting place: we see too little of Llynathawr - although we are learning to spell it.

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