Saturday, 4 October 2014
In the pioneer days on Irumclaw, beehive-shaped native adobes were remodeled for other lifeforms but are now crumbling. As Flandry enters Old Town at night, Poul Anderson as ever addresses three senses. There are glowsigns, noises and smells. The last of these are unpleasant: body odors, garbage and smoke, although there also incense and dope, but why not some cooking smells?
An Irumclagian chanting with a vocalizer advertises games, stakes, food, drink, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, emphasizers and sex with seventeen intelligent species. Thankfully, he does not mention unintelligent species although presumably anything goes.
Flandry seeks to enrich himself and a local vice boss but everything that he does has a purpose. That the Empire will abandon Irumclaw and let the Merseians move nearer has become a self-fulfilling prophecy:
an increasingly incompetent garrison;
able citizens withdrawing themselves and their capital;
defensibility and economic value spiraling downward.
But an enriched local boss with a stake to protect and a reason to stay will lobby and bribe to keep the Empire on Irumclaw.