Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Staurn

An extract from Continuing With The Star Fox III, originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, Mon 4 Feb 2013.

(i) Let's be more precise about the scientific rationale of Staurnian flight in Poul Anderson's The Star Fox (London, 1968). Staurnians are hydrogen breathers who should have less active metabolisms than oxygen breathers and Staurnian gravity is twice terrestrial. However:

they have bird-type bones;
the lower energy of hydrogen molecules is more than compensated for by their greater numbers in the Staurnian atmosphere;
the enzyme systems are efficient;
there is so much ultraviolet from the sun that the plants build very energy-rich compounds.

(ii) The basic Staurnian social unit is a patriarchal household which would not have been able to raise them above savagery. Somehow, possibly by conquest and slavery, they did build a global industrial civilization which, however, destroyed itself in a nuclear war. Staurnians were happy to revert to patriarchal households, especially since these are now armed with nuclear weapons with which they can attack each other and which they can sell to visiting outworld traders!

Staurnians are less adversely affected by radiation, having more of it in their environment, their Nests are mostly underground and there are no incendiary effects in a hydrogen atmosphere. A Guild of older males arbitrates, defends Staurn and deals with outworlders.

(iii) Staurn, an obvious anagram of "Saturn", also connotes to me "stern" and "storm". When Heim said that he would buy weapons from a place of that name, it seemed appropriate.

(iv) Staurnian wings are "...chiropteran..." (p. 74) I cannot find this word in a dictionary.

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