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.

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.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Planet Cain

Approximately Earth-sized;
just over one astronomical unit from its G-nine star;
15 % denser atmosphere;
more greenhouse effect;
20 hour day;
no moons;
32 degree axial tilt;
therefore, complicated seasons.

Is "no moons" possible? I have heard of several ways in which Earth's comparatively large Moon might have made our planet habitable, e.g., here, but I am not a scientist.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


A peak of radiation from the planet Dathyna's massive, metal-rich, irregularly variable sun, which probably condensed near a recent supernova, destroyed civilization but produced a killer mutation which exterminated the parent race, appropriated its technology and now threatens the Polesotechnic League.
-copied from here

Sun middle-F type, 5.4 times as luminous as Sol, more white than gold;
less hydrosphere than Earth because solar ultraviolet splits water molecules;
lower mountains and continents;
shallow, tideless, algae-covered ocean over half the flatter surface;
slight axial tilt;
small edge effects;
poles similar to the equator;
steep air pressure gradient;
uplands of ice and rock;
large deserts with dust storms over red rock;
fertile areas with forests, meadows and crops;
the dominant species inhabiting large, partly ruined buildings. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Lunar Surface In Science Fiction

We are used to reading descriptions of the lunar surface in science fiction:

Verne's characters look down on it;
Wells' land on it;
Heinlein's live there.

However, from his suite in the Hotel Universe, Poul Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn sees an altered landscape. Forcefields hold air, an ozone layer, soaring trees and fountains, great blossoms and lamps on vine-like posts although beyond them are a crater floor, a ringwall, jewel-like stars, the silver Milky Way and the blue and white Earth, all making van Rijn's opulent suite look tawdry.

David Falkayn visits Elfland in Lunograd, a park with grass, arbors, flowers, tall trees and fountains, towers, colonnades, birds, elevated streets, small suns on bronze vines and an Avenue of the Sphinxes although again beyond them are a crater floor, a ringwall, stars in a black sky and Earth with the lights of megalopolises visible on its night side. Although technology makes the Moon inhabitable and even comfortable, the stellar universe remains beyond the works of men.

Going one stage further, Poul Anderson also wrote a short story about a project to terraform the Moon.

On The Moon In The Technic History

In 2057
There is an "Apollo University Communications" in Leyburg on Luna.

In The Twenty Fifth Century
Elfland, Lunograd, is "...a giant bubble of air..." (David Falkayn: Star Trader, p. 333) enclosed in an electromagnetic screen on the Lunar surface.

In Lunograd:

many corridors, including Gagarin, end at Titov Circus, an excavated cylinder with a domed skylight, showing Earth and stars, and thronged encircling balconies where Ivarsen Gems, the Martian Chop House and Serendipity Inc. do business;

a large sports goods store sells vac suits and vehicles and also collapsible boats with gaudy sails for low-weight sailing on the small Lake Leshy;

people float down dropshafts on gee-beams;

on many sublevels, wide, high, grime- and oil-overlaid corridors are crowded with freightways, robotic machines and pedestrians in work coveralls;

there are factories, warehouses, shipping depots and offices and odors of humanity, chemicals and electrical discharges;

hot gusts come from fenced grilles;

the constant vibration of the great engines is deep and almost subliminal;

the Hotel Universe will pay one million Commonwealth credits to any oxygen-breather whom it cannot accommodate and has twice spent more than a million, once to synthesize dietary requirements and once "...to fetch a symbiotic organism from the visitor's home planet." (p. 360)

Selenopolis is in Copernicus.

The capital of the Lunar Federation is, like Lunograd, in Plato.

In The Thirty First Or Thirty Second Century (see here)
Dominic Flandry must spend two weeks in Luna Prime after returning from a mission.