Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Going Bird

Poul Anderson excels at descriptive passages both of natural scenery and of crowded, bustling civic and commercial centers. On p. 499 of Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011) is his description of "...Avalon's second city...Centauri...," which I quoted in a much earlier post. On the following page, he presents one of his "list" descriptions that I have commented on before. Eleven kinds of pedestrians, five kinds of human noise and five kinds of street smells are listed, giving an impression, I suggest, of a dynamic urban environment.

Christopher Holm, who has joined an Ythrian choth, "gone bird," as Arinninian, draws a different conclusion:

"'...I'm proud to belong to a choth and not proud that members of my race elect to live in a sty.'" (p. 501)

Ythrians mate only when in heat. Gestation has to be short because adult Ythrians fly. The young cling to either parent until their wings have developed. Adult sexes are equal or nearly so. Occasional females able to ovulate at will used to be killed and are now generally shunned. Chris is shocked to find his chothmate Eyath's betrothed Vodan with a permanently-in-heat female before he goes to war. He expects purity of his chothmates whereas Tabitha/Hrill comments:

"'...don't you suppose, if [Eyath] heard, she'd be glad he's gotten a bit of unimportant fun and forgetting?'" (p. 508)

"Birds," human choth members, tend to be promiscuous but not with each other. Chris has some problem but, three times when speaking to Tabitha, he does not finish his sentence:

"'You wouldn't -' he stammered. 'I mean, somebody like you?'" (p. 501)

And later:

"'We birds -' He couldn't finish..." (p. 509)

When she challenges his use of the word "we," he replies:

"'Why, we...our generation, at least -'" (p. 509)

- and again does not finish. Tabitha understands what is going on well enough to tell him that his "" is neither as typical nor as serious as he thinks. (p. 510) But I am still having trouble with what his "case" is. She refuses his proposition, which he says was only intended to make a point, to show why he is upset about Vodan, but he has no difficulty in finding another sexual partner for what is left of the night.

Later: He expects the same "purity" of human chothmates that he finds among Ythrians and thus denies that the former are human?

No comments: