Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More From The Star Fox

In Poul Anderson's The Star Fox (London, 1968), we soon encounter three more notions common to much futuristic sf.

(i) Some degree of weather control:

" 'Weather Reg really muffed the last hurricane, don't you think?' " (p. 29)

(ii) Flying cars, in this case called "flyers," i.e., vehicles that can be driven and parked or garaged like motor cars but that can fly, thus necessitating a central traffic control both to prevent mid-air collisions and to allow automatic flight:

"Heim retrieved his flyer at the garage and fretted while Traf-Con stalled about sending him aloft. Quite a time passed before the pattern of vehicle movement released him. He went on manual for a while, to have the satisfaction of personally getting away...He set the autopilot..." (p. 30)

(iii) Some degree of gravity control:

"The gravitrons in this Moonraker were custom-built, with power to lift him far into the stratosphere." (p. 30)

So a "gravitron" is an anti-gravity device like Wells' Cavorite or James Blish's graviton polarity generators. When, in a previous post, I briefly discussed the FTL in The Star Fox, I quoted a reference to "gravitrons" but now realize that I was then confusing this word with "gravitons." The latter are the hypothetical particles of gravity, hence Blish's device for generating polarity in them. Gravitrons do not polarize gravitons but curve space. (p. 71) Both gravitrons and graviton polarizers allow FTL.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...


I think the very first time I came across the idea of "flying cars" was in Poul Anderson's collection AGENT OF THE TERRAN EMPIRE around 1968. And more "consciously" so from his ENSIGN FLANDRY, in 1971.

There are, or were, people trying to build real world flying cars. Google a firm called Moller Internation and look up their "sky car."