Saturday, 8 June 2013


A science fiction novel can show amazing contrasts. For instance -

When Dominic Flandry is on the surface of the planet Talwin, he is entirely immersed in its extreme climatic conditions. A long stifling summer and a longer deadly winter are separated by the turbulent transitions of a very brief spring and autumn. Two intelligent species survive, one by hibernating in caves, the other by estivating at sea, but neither can break out of this immemorial, environmentally imposed, cycle.

By contrast, easy space travel grants unlimited freedom of movement in three dimensions so that any planetary conditions can be left far behind. Soon after Flandry has retrieved his scout ship, which had been captured by Merseians exploring Talwin, he is back into space - although first he must evade a Merseian ship by flying around and surviving inside a massive seasonal storm.

He leaves behind him the Talwinian air, water and weather to fly instead through the vacuum of space where, however, he encounters an entirely different kind of hazard. In fact, this novel, A Circus Of Hells, features in total four celestial bodies:

Irumclaw, an Imperial colony planet;
Wayland, a metal rich moon of a gas giant planet;
Talwin, with its fantastically skewed orbit;
a pulsar, which Flandry must pass in a dangerously close orbit in order to evade Merseian pursuers.

Fascinating though Talwin is, there is a sense of release when Flandry leaves its atmosphere and again traverses interstellar distances. But, having been introduced here, Talwin plays a crucial role in two later novels of the Technic Civilization series.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Just a small correction, I would not call Irumclaw a colonized planet. Rather it was a border planet of the Empire already inhabited by its own native race. Outside the treaty port and the Naval base, the inhabitants were native Irumclavians. There WERE, however, many non Irumclavians of various races living in the treaty port.