Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 9 June 2013.

The planet Shalmu is thrice important:

it is mentioned in the very early "Sargasso of Lost Starships";
Dominic Flandry visits it in The Rebel Worlds;
it is where his servant, Chives, is from.

The Shalmuan slave trade and crucifixions in The Rebel Worlds remind us that we are reading about a future version of the Roman Empire.

Why do Shalmuans and Merseians look so similar when they are products of unrelated evolutions?

Chives is elderly in A Stone In Heaven and I suspect that he has died by the time of The Game Of Empire because he is not mentioned in that concluding Flandry novel.

When not coerced to enslave their fellows by a corrupt sector governor:

"...Shalmuans were less ferocious, less able to treat their fellow beings like vermin or machinery, than humankind is." (Poul Anderson, The Rebel Worlds, London, 1973, p. 24)

- with the consequence that the global hegemony of a technological culture spreads more slowly. If only human history had been like that.

In The Rebel Worlds, Flandry's first officer, Rovian, like an ERBian green Martian, has two arms, two legs and intermediate limbs that can be used as either. He asks why oppression on Shalmu is bad unless it provokes rebellion. As Spock lacks emotions, Rovian lacks morality but he obeys orders, abides by his Oath and is loyal to his captain. Another interesting character, too soon killed in combat.

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