Thursday, 30 November 2017

NGC 5457

The image shows NGC 5457.

Poul Anderson tells us how the universe looks and sounds.

Janne Floris of the Time Patrol has on her wall not only:

"...a copy of a Cuyp landscape..."

but also:

" astronomical photograph of the Veil Nebula."
-Poul Anderson, "Star of the Sea" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (Riverdale, NY, 2010), pp. 467-640 AT p. 482.

In a picture on the wall in the Ganymedean colony:

"NGC 5457 coiled stark and glittering in space."
-Poul Anderson, Three Worlds To Conquer (London, 1966), Chapter 12, p. 87.

The universe is the constant background of all fiction and Poul Anderson regularly reminds us of it.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Jovian Environment II

Elemental forces devastate the environment. Because wind, rain, hail, lightning, quake, flood, geyser, fire spout and avalanche threaten to return Nyarr to barbarism, the Reeve and his kin-tree are primarily master engineers with civilization-saving skills and only incidentally priests, magicians, judges or military leaders. Volcanoes, the only known form of fire, are used to smelt water to forge weapons. The domesticated druga species regularly metamorphoses from vegetable to animal.

Theor, a Nyarran male and Reeveling:

three prehensile toes on each foot;
long armed;
four-fingered hands;
blocky torso;
round head;
shrugs by shaking the head;
no nose, external ears or lungs;
rooster-like comb;
six lipped slits on either side of the thorax admit hydrogen which releases energy by reducing vegetable-derived organic compounds;
abdominal vents release methane and ammonia;
golden eyes three times the size of a man's;
chemo-sensor antennae flank the mouth which is only for eating and drinking;
speech generated by vibrating muscle tissue in a pouch under the jaws;
stands on the back of a flying/swimming forgar with his feet in stirrups.

Norlak, Theor's demi-father:

no comb;
longer, acuter anntenae;
gaudily clothed;
wearing a blanket dyed pirell and onsy;
waving a plume-tipped staff;
more excitable but quicker-witted than males.

Although the Nyarran sexes are equal, among an ocean-crossing invasive species, the Ulunt-Khazul, males own females and kill most demi-males at birth. The Nyarran language is three interrelated systems with different underlying premises.

All this information and more is presented in a few pages before the action starts.

The Jovian Environment I

"...that monstrous atmospheric ocean..."
-Poul Anderson, Three Worlds To Conquer (London, 1966), Chapter 3, p. 21.

This means either literally that the Jovian atmosphere combines gaseous and liquid properties so that it could equally be described as a monstrous oceanic atmosphere or metaphorically that the atmospheric gases are dense and turbulent like the waves of an ocean. The gases are:

"...mostly hydrogen, much helium, a few percentage points of methane, ammonia vapor, and other gases..." (ibid.)

The mantis-like "forgar" is said to fly - or swim. (p. 23)

There are mile-high red cloud banks with tawny precipices. Sun and moons cannot be seen from the surface but dawn is perceived as a swiftly climbing brightness. Human eyes would see only by "...the frequent great lightning flashes..." (p. 21) but Jovians see in the infrared.

Soil is ice powder intermingled with sodium and ammonium compounds. The real ocean is "...thousands of storm-swept miles of liquid ammonia..." (p. 22)

Much more later.

Thursday, 23 November 2017


Mountains like teeth;
craters like fortress walls;
long crater shadows on blue-gray plains;
the John Glenn range;
Berkeley Ice Field, sheening amber;
Mare Navium;
Dante Chasm;
the Red Mountains;
the green beacon at Aurora;
rock and ice;
Jupiter above;
unblinking stars in a black sky.

This is how the colonized Ganymede looks to the pilot of a returning moonship on pp. 7-9 of Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer. He thinks of it as home but I would not like to live there.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017


Poul Anderson's "The Tale of the Cat," incorporated into his Starfarers as Chapter 17, first appeared in Analog, February 1998.


the furthest colony planet from Sol;
dim sun;
summer light like autumn on Earth;
mountainous glaciers to north and south;
cold clashing seas;
one tropical continent colonized;
beautiful rings, the remnants of a moon;
one temperate zone;
herds and cops;
quakes, storms and metal-gnawing mites;
Terrestrial grass sown;
houses and shops of the Magistrate's retainers;
murky native forest, rarely visited;
castle with homes, worksteads, chapels, stadium, laboratories and a museum;
government mostly by town meetings;
the Magistrate has a militia and a court;
visiting Kith range in their flitters

Monday, 20 November 2017

More On Maia

On Maia, Kenri and Nivala drive by rented groundcar into the Tirian desert where they are surrounded by:

flamboyantly colored stone and sand;
hills with fantastically shaped crags;
scattered peppery-odored thornbush;
argent dunes;
thin, cool air.

There are at least two moons, one moving rapidly. A creature wails at a distance. Making a fire, Kenri fries savory fish filets purchased at a waterfarm.

Thus, there is after all a little more information about Maia. Like the planet Morgana, the Tirian desert exists only as a setting for further interaction between Kenri and Nivala.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Maia And Morgana In The Kith History

Morgana is not a moon (see here) but a sister planet of Maia;

they orbit 61 Virginis, which is 27.9 light years from Sol, therefore, with time dilation, reachable at near light speeds;

the principle Maian town is Landfall where there are Kith offices and native silvercane with a cinnamon-like odor;

the Terrestrial upper class family, Tersis, acquired large holdings on the humanly uninhabitable Morgana in the pioneering period and still draws income from valuable Morganan biochemicals;

Freelady Nivala Tersis, traveling out in the Kith ship Eagle and returning in the Fleetwing, is the first of her family ever to inspect their Morganan property, although everyone she knew on Earth will be old or dead when she returns decades later;

traveling from Maia to collect Nivala, Kenri Shaun lands at Rodan Spacefield and takes the slideway into Northport;

the transparent tube of the slideway protects him from hot, green, poisonous rain;

in Northport, the Far Frontier Hotel is kept clean by machines but also made shabby by its plantationer clientele.

And that is all the information to be gleaned about the planetary system of 61 Virginis although it is more than I had expected. Poul Anderson created this system only as a setting for the first meeting between Kenri and Nivala.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Fully Realized Planets

Copied from Poul Anderson Appreciation.

For the second time recently, a recent post has disappeared from the blog. This time it was "Fully Realized Planets" so I will try to reproduce it from memory -

Tolkien's Middle Earth and Stirling's Emberverse are each a single planet whereas Anderson's Technic History encompasses many planets. However, some of the Technic planets are as fully realized as if each of them were the sole setting of a series:

Avalon is presented in three short stories and a novel and an Avalonian visits Aeneas;

Aeneas is presented in a short passage of The Rebel Worlds and in the entire text of The Day Of Their Return and an Aenean was among the explorers of Gray/Avalon;

van Rijn spends an entire novel on Diomedes and Flandry also visits that planet;

Flandry and Kossara march with Merseians on the Dennitzan parliament after spending time in the Kazan and on the Obala.

And so on.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

GENESIS: Environments III

In Poul Anderson, Genesis (New York, 2001), Part One, VII, the reigning intelligence on an extra-solar planet incorporates the Christian Brannock upload, which no longer wants to function as a distinct entity, whereas, in Part Two, I, in another planetary system, the primary aspect of the local node's primary consciousness synthesizes a lesser manifestation of itself which it then releases into separate existence as a second entity and a small facet of that second entity comes from Brannock.

The omniscient narrator, who usually remains in the background unnoticed, instead directly addresses the reader by saying, e.g.:

"Let us make our myth concerning the mission to Earth." (p. 103)

It is a "myth":

that the primary aspect and its manifestations were identified by names - Alpha and Wayfarer;
that they conversed before Wayfarer became a distinct entity;
indeed, that they were already distinguishable individuals capable of any conversation at that stage.

The system is that of an M2 dwarf star about fifty parsecs from Sol. Long ago, an artificial intelligence stopped there to study life on one of the planets. Now the star is orbited not only by planets but also by "...various titanic structures..." (p. 105), resembling gossamer or spiderwebs. The structures are mostly force fields which:

gather and focus energy for Alpha;
study space and the atom;
transmit and receive interstellar messages;
contain Alpha and Wayfarer although not at any specific location - just as consciousness is not located at any Cartesian point in an organic brain?

Alpha is the apex of the structural complexity.

Wayfarer departs in a spaceship containing:

cryomagnetics supporting antimatter;
a matrix with backup for the Wayfarer programs and a database;
sensors, effectors and bodies into which Wayfarer can download an essence of himself;
equipment, instruments and power systems;
a guitar for Brannock.

GENESIS: Environments II

See GENESIS: Environments.

The Christian Brannock upload visits the reigning intelligence of this planetary system. The island-dwelling intelligence can be described on three levels.

What A Human Being Would Perceive
Lightnings and rainbows around a huge, many-faceted jewel;
low domes and high pylons;
the sound of invisible energies.

What Brannock Perceives
We are told only that:
his sensors detect more than human sense organs would;
he notices changes since his last visit, unsurprising because the reigning intelligence is always changing itself, often on the basis of advice from intelligences in other systems.

Intangible And Incomprehensible Even To Brannock
Force fields;
quantum computations;
"...actions far down in the foundations of reality." (p. 87)

How far down? Can the nodes go all the way down? One view in the philosophy of science is that scientific theories can approach but never reach ultimate reality whereas another view is that a Theory of Everything would:

be formulable in a single equation that could be printed on T-shirts;
describe the most fundamental properties of the most fundamental entities, whatever those are;
unify the forces of nature;
explain the already formulated laws of physics and chemistry.

Can the nodes act upon the most fundamental entities?

GENESIS: Environments

Poul Anderson, Genesis (New York, 2001), Part One, VII.

A planet is so far from Earth that Sol is not visible in its night sky;

the day sky is green with red-tinged clouds;

the atmosphere is humanly unbreathable;

the planet's sun is small and dazzling;

low hills are covered with primitive life - purple, ruddy and gold mats, stalks, fluttering membranes and spongy turrets;

Intelligence Prime has studied this life and transmitted information to other intelligences across the known galaxy for seven hundred years;

the furthest intelligence have not yet received the transmissions.

See also:

The Christian Brannock Uploads
Genesis, Part One, Chapter VII
Van Rijn And Brannock
The Christian Brannock Uploads II

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Environmental Stewardship

By "Cosmic Environments," I meant environments elsewhere in the cosmos. However, every environment is part of the cosmos. Earth is not only irradiated by the nearest star, Sol, but also composed of elements generated by stellar fusion throughout the universe.

SM Stirling's Emberversers express a common attitude to their environment but in different ways:

marking out what is rightly the domain of the Lady Flidais;
National Parks;
rights under Forest Law;
the biodiversity of riparian wetlands and watershed maintenance;
God's command to the sons of Adam to be wise stewards;
what White Buffalo Woman says we can take...

Difference without division. Unity without uniformity.

Chee Lan

Blog correspondent, Michael Silverling, scanned this interior art picture of Chee Lan from the Analog magazine serialization of Poul Anderson's Satan's World. The art is by Kelly Freas.

This pictured follows one of Adzel.

Since Chee Lan, like Adzel, is operating in an alien environment, this post will first be published on the Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments blog and will later be copied to Poul Anderson Appreciation.


Blog correspondent, Michael Silverling, scanned this interior art picture of Adzel from the Analog magazine serialization of Poul Anderson's Satan's World. The art is by Kelly Freas.

Adzel is carrying someone: David Falkayn?

Michael thought that I might find the art of interest and I thought that blog readers might.

Since Adzel is running through an alien environment, this post will be published on the Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments blog and will later be copied to Poul Anderson Appreciation.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

By The Lyubisha River

On Dennitza, the Kazan is a large astrobleme. During glaciation, a colter of ice pierced the Kazan ringwall, then the melt-begotten Lyubisha River formed a canyon. Flandry watches the broad, brown river which is:

"...quiet except where it chuckled around a boulder or a sandbar near its banks."
-Poul Anderson, A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 339-606 AT p. 524.

(In Anderson's Time Patrol series, time is compared to a river with changeable features like sandbars that can divert its course.)

"...ocherous palisades..." are "...maned with forest." (ibid.) Leaves are bluish-green or plum-coloured.

"...trees...grew taller than the taiga granted." (ibid.)

My points are, first, that Anderson shows us an alien landscape where, e.g., we must not assume that leaves are Terretrial green and, secondly, that his vocabulary is rich even when describing features that might be common to Earth and Dennitza.

A Dennitzan Forest

On Dennitza, Dominic Flandry and Kossara Vymezal land in a forest. Poul Anderson must show that this forest is not interchangeable with a Terrestrial equivalent. There is:

mahovina turf;
woodland "duff," the two relevant meanings of "duff" being plant litter and detritus;
the local equivalent of evergreens - low, gnarly trees, their branches plumed blue-black;
shrubbery but no real underbrush;
open sod.

Anderson sometimes describes a local equivalent of grass, e.g., on Aeneas, Avalon, Talwin and here.

There is also "...a meadow of long silvery quasigrass..." on Starkad. (Ensign Flandry, Chapter Eighteen IN Young Flandry, p. 187)

Shalmu has "...whispering silvery psuedograss..." (The Rebel Worlds, Chapter Three IN Young Flandry, p. 394)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

"The Faun": Opening Paragraph

Copied from here:

Comparing future histories has led us back to (what I call) Poul Anderson's Directorate History, which is just four stories.

"The Faun" was published in Boy's Life and thus is one of Anderson's juvenile works (see also here). The title and the opening sentence:

"A wyvern flew up in a thunder of splendid wings."
-Poul Anderson, "The Faun" IN Anderson, The Queen Of Air And Darkness and other stories (London, 1977), pp. 86-90 AT p. 86 -

- suggest a fantasy but the following sentences clarify that the story is set on a colonized extra-solar planet.

"A python tree coiled its branches." (ibid.)

A tree so called because its branches move.

"A chiming rang among the tiny red blossoms that covered the ground." (ibid.)

As often before, Anderson tells us what a terrestroid planet has instead of grass.

"Alien in the forest, a grove of pines stirred only to a breeze." (ibid.)

So this planet has been colonized by human beings who have brought some of their own ecology with them. And that concludes the opening paragraph.