Monday, 19 March 2018

Yet Another Grass Equivalent

"The ground was low, wet, thickly covered with a soft and intensely green moss-like turf. It sparkled with a million water drops. Fog rolled and streamed, slowly breaking up as the sun climbed. The air was cool, and filled the nostrils with dampness. His tread muffled and upborne by the springy growth, his companions unspeaking and half blurred in the mist, Flandry moved through silence like a dream." (p. 120) (For full reference, see here.)

We often learn what other planets use for grass. (Scroll down.)

How many senses do we have here? Wet, soft, green, sparkling, coolness, dampness, silence.

Flandry and his companions walk to the Trees of Ranau. There are over a thousand enormous "Trees," growing a kilometer or more apart.

The Trees Of Ranau

The image shows a Terrestrial redwood. In the lower gravity of Unan Besar, the ten thousand year old Trees of Ranau (scroll down) grow much bigger:

"The slim higher boughs would each have made a Terran oak; the lowest were forests in themselves..."
-Poul Anderson, "The Plague of Masters" IN Anderson, Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (Riverdale, NY, 2012), pp. 1-147 AT p. 121.

The huge branches can support their own weight because their cores are nearly as strong as steel whereas most of their thickness is as light as balsa, protected by hard gray bark. Bright, mirror-like upper leaves reflect light down to lower foliage which otherwise would be fatally enshadowed. The planet has only one grove of these Trees because they are succumbing to faster evolving parasites. The Ranauans preserve their grove by living in symbiosis with it.

Monday, 12 March 2018

On Nyanza

One kind of Nyanzan ship is called a "...kraken-chaser..." ("The Game of Glory," p. 321) (For full reference, see here.) And see Kraken.

Is it feasible that people would colonize a planet where a town or city is submerged at high tide so that buildings would have to be watertight with air locks? Nyanzans live by fishing, hunting kraken, collecting shells at low tide or diving for them at high tide. They work and travel in ships and swim short distances wearing transparent helmets and aqualungs that electrolyze oxygen from water. Thus, they are always on or under the water except on the rare occasions when they visit the single island on the planet for trade or diplomacy. (The Imperial Resident resides there.)

"Sunset blazed across violet waters. The white spume of the breakers was turned an incredible gold; tide pools on the naked black skerry were like molten copper. The sky was deep blue in the east, still pale overhead, shading to a clear cloudless green where the sun drowned. Through the surf's huge hollow crashing and grinding, Flandry heard bells from one of the many rose-red spires...or did a ship's bell ring among raking spars, or was it something he had heard in a dream once? Beneath all the noise, it was unutterably peaceful." (p. 323)

The sights and sounds merge with Flandry's imaginings. The sound of a bell from a sunken city recalls Ys. This sunset is simply the end of a day, not a symbol for the decline of Empire or the descent of man.

Approaching Nyanza

"The Game of Glory" (for reference, see here) tells us another of Flandry's hobbies. When he establishes radio contact with Nyanza:

"Most of him was listening to the fellow's accent. The inexhaustible variations on Anglic were a hobby of his." (p. 308)

How many planets does Poul Anderson describe as seen from space? Is this the best way to see a planet? Here is Nyanza:

"Nyanza shone before him, the clearest and most beautiful blue of his life, streaked with white cloud-belts and shuddering with great auroral streamers." (p. 307)

There are two moons. The fellow on the radio explains that there are:

no continents;
a medium-sized island, Altla;
rocks and reefs, "...submerged at double high tide, or even at Loa high." (p. 308)

Is Loa one of the moons? Is it named after the Loa? How many planets in the Technic History are mostly covered with water?

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Planet Stories, January 1951, contained:

"Witch of the Demon Seas" by A.A. Craig (Poul Anderson);
"Tiger by the Tail" by Poul Anderson.

The cover (see image) advertises the first of these two works, then adds "Also POUL ANDERSON"

In the revised text of "Tiger by the Tail," the barbarian, but newly industrialized, terrestroid planet, Scotha, sounds quaint:

modern industry, moved into space, has not been allowed to pollute the planetary environment;

there is no poisoned soil or polluted air or water;

there are no mines, highways or megalopolises;

population has been controlled;

there is extra-planetary colonization in artificial environments and in other systems;

there are three billion Scothani, two thirds off Scotha;

three small moons make the seas turbulent;

observing through instruments while approaching from space, Flandry sees -

green, in different shades from Terra;
broad forests;
rich plains, cultivated or grazed;
picturesque old villages;
steep-walled castles;
gleaming rivers and snow-peaks;
skies thronged with wings;
occasionally glimpsed sleek industrial buildings;
new towers in cities;
air traffic;
the ancient many-bannered stronghold of the Frithian kings on the peak of a mountain where a city now sprawls down the slopes and for kilometers beyond.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


Catawrayannis on Llynathawr cannot compete either with Starfall on Hermes (and here) or with Zorkagrad on Dennitza 
(and here) but nevertheless impresses the reader as a real place:

the Governor's palace, big and pastel-tinted with domes and colonnades, is surrounded by gardens on its high hill;
below are terraced civil service buildings;
the wealthy live around the hill;
other dwellings blend into farms to the west and the city to the east;
the Luana River has low commercial towers on one side and slums on the other;
there is a haze and a cool spring breeze;
there are vehicles in the streets and the sky;
there are also peaceful trees - and a space warcraft passing overhead -

- a quiet environment and preparations for war.

It is also where James Ching eventually settled.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Talwin And Beringia

(Chalcolithic artifacts.)

On Talwin, most Ruadrath societies are chalcolithic. I have learned by googling this word.

Merseians studying the two intelligent species, Ruadrath and Domrath, on the planet Talwin in Poul Anderson's A Circus Of Hells resemble the Time Patrol studying the Paleo-Indians in Beringia in 13,211 B.C. in Anderson's The Shield Of Time. In both cases, the natives accept without question the sudden arrival of powerful strangers who, however, must not disrupt the natives' lives too much. Needless to say, Dominic Flandry on Talwin and Wanda Tamberly in Beringia find ways to be disruptive.