Friday, 22 February 2013
Flying Mountains III
Surprisingly, Sanders comes on stage as the first person narrator of the Prologue and presumably also of the remaining interstitial material in this collection/novelization. As a new member of the Advisory Council on the spaceship Astra, just leaving the Solar System for Alpha Centauri at sub-light speed, he is a convenient foil for the older and established Council members. They can explain their situation and dilemmas to us through him. The Prologue is eight pages long. Thus, it and the remaining add-ons form a substantial part of the text.
Secondly, the first story, "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure," is one of the three that had not been published before. Like the Prologue, it has been written for the book. In fact, it is also a prologue since, set on Earth, it recounts both the science and the politics behind the colonization of the asteroids. Therefore, only six of the seven stories are going to be set in the Asteroid Republic. As in Anderson's Rustum History and his The Star Fox, we have to be told how it all began so the first story in the series precedes the events that the series is about, just as James Blish, after writing a series about flying cities, then wrote the prequel, a short novel describing the two discoveries, antigravity and anti-agathics, that had enabled cities to fly between the stars.