Sunday, 14 September 2014

Two Cosmic Accidents And Some Other Details

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation, 24 May 2014.

I discussed the freak planet Diomedes before but did not mention one detail - two cosmic accidents caused the planet's unusual features.

(i) The electromagnetic activity of a passing neutron star chemically fractionated a cloud of gas and dust which therefore condensed into a metal-poor system. Consequently, Diomedes, compared with Terra, has 4.75 mass and 2.00 diameter but only 1.10 gravity. Such a large planet generates a dense atmosphere supporting many large flying organisms, including one intelligent species with a sophisticated Stone Age technology, trading their organic substances for off-world metals.  

(ii) Some other unspecified accident placed the poles at the equator. Therefore, each hemisphere has an annual sunless season and most organisms either hibernate or migrate.

I am rereading A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows, a novel rich in details, many of which I have already discussed. Because this novel falls so late in the Technic History series, it incorporates many already established background details, including Diomedes. While Dominic Flandry is on that planet, he recalls a meeting with two opponents on Talwin where he claimed to be dressed in a style from Ramanujan. All these entities and planets have appeared or been mentioned earlier in the series.

Four works are set during the Molitor dynasty and all four could be collected under the title "Children of Empire" since they feature:

for Molitor - two sons and one granddaughter plus mention of a grandson;
for Flandry - one son and one daughter plus mention of a few other children;
for Max Abrams - one daughter;
for the Starkadian Dragoika  - one son.

James Bond-like, Flandry really does combine sex with espionage. He gathers intelligence by sleeping with the Diomedean resident's wife. Currently, each British town has a Mayor and some also have a Duke. In Flandry's time, Britain has a Mayor Palatine and Mars has a Duke!

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