Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Que Donn'rez Vous?

In "Que Donn'rez Vous?" (Poul Anderson, Tales Of The Flying Mountains, New York, 1984), a spaceship engine has failed; the ship, with its single occupant, is sinking into the Jovian atmosphere.

A rescue attempt would:

almost certainly fail;
endanger the lives of the rescue team;
be prohibitively expensive in terms of resources.

Thus, the problem is technical, human and economic. A fellow pilot devises a way to reduce the danger to the rescuers: technical problem solved. The rescue attempt succeeds: human problem solved. By examining the recovered ship, the Chief Engineer discovers the cause of the engine failure. Thus, similar costly failures can be prevented in future: economic problem solved.

Neat, maybe too neat? We know that everything does not work out for the best every time. And Anderson certainly knows this. He emphasises the risks taken by the asterites, asteroid dwellers, to survive. But a skilful writer can tie all the threads together at the end of a story and it is enjoyable to read: enjoyable though not humourous like some earlier stories in the collection. The cause of the engine failure is extremely technical and could only have been written by a scientifically trained sf author.

This leaves just two more stories to reread in the collection.

1 comment:

energy prices said...

Economic problem is obvious nowadays and countries suffering on this must be helped by other countries that have a stable economy.