Friday, 17 October 2014
in the Pleiades region;
a cold planet of a red dwarf star;
air pressure higher than Terrestrial;
at least two moons;
no food edible by Terrestrials;
used by the Polesotechnic League only as a site for an emergency repair depot until, between stories, a valuable herb is discovered and a trade base established.
The two stories set on Ivanhoe are about interactions with the natives: furred, tailed, three-fingered bipeds with below-jaw breathing apertures instead of noses and leonine manes on males. Like the Merseians and the Ythrians, the Ivanhoans encountered in the first story are monotheists. When their Chief Consecrate bans a new idea that threatens his preferred social structure, he must show from scripture, tradition or reason that this new idea contradicts the Word of God.
To this extent at least, the Ivanhoan Sanctuary sounds like the Catholic Church. A wily Jewish trader disrupts Sanctuary theology by introducing the Kabbalah. Later, other traders disarm native hostility by introducing the idea of the Christmas truce. Thus, both stories could be included in an sf anthology on religion, as could the earlier "The Problem of Pain" about the Ythrian New Faith of God the Hunter. (We learn that the word "God" can have different connotations.)
In Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009):
"...a Master Merchant of the Polesotechnic League..." (p. 178);
"...Master Polesotechnician Martin Schuster [on Ivanhoe]..." (p. 204);
"...Master Trader Thomas Overbeck [on Ivanhoe]..." (p. 319)
Are Merchant, Polesotechnician and Trader three ranks or three different translations of a single Anglic term into English?
The first Ivanhoe story serves to introduce the series character, David Falkayn. However, both stories are also rich in other characters like the two named Masters.