Sunday, 17 February 2013

Ganymede And Jupiter

In Poul Anderson's Three Worlds To Conquer (London, 1966):

"Someday we'll warm [Ganymedean] rock with nuclear energy, and crush it into soil, and blanket it with atmosphere, and turn this whole world green." (p. 13)

So terraforming is still in the future for Anderson's colonists whereas Heinlein's, in Farmer In The Sky, can be farmers because they are also terraformers.

When probes to the Jovian surface establish that there is intelligent life, further devices are sent to:

"...start with arithmetic sums in beeps and end with a verbal language." (p. 18)

Carl Sagan in Contact makes it seem easy to start with arithmetic - transmit:

a single beep;
an arbitrary symbol;
a second single beep;
a second arbitrary symbol;
two beeps.

Having thus taught someone your symbols for "plus" and "equals," you can then transmit the rest of mathematics, followed by engineering instructions but how quickly can you proceed to " Esperanto for the two races..."? (p. 18) The fact that Terrestrials and Jovians cannot pronounce each others' speech is the least of the problems. I think that conceptual differences would be more problematic. However, Mark Fraser  and Theor of Nyarr converse as easily as two human beings.

Remembering that Theor had said (something like):

" 'Two different breeds of thinking animal have met.' " (p. 19)

- I had envisaged independent evolutions on different Jovian continents. However, the truth was less spectacular. Fraser " '...suspect[s] you're of the same genus.' " (p. 19)

It scarcely matters that this novel is "confined," so to say, to the Solar System because these Jovians are at least as imaginative as any of the same author's extrasolar species. Having said that, all that I can specifically remember after all this time is that they are tri-sexual: female must be impregnated by demi-male soon after male. Jovian society has parallels with Terrestrial: receiving the communication device -

" '...changed the nature of the Reeveship, back toward the ancient function of conductor in magical rites...'" (p. 19)

Chapters 1 and 2 are narrated from Mark Fraser's point of view but I am about to reread Chapter 3 which is Theor pov.

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