Friday, 14 June 2013
Dayan And Terra
The attached image is the rather good cover of The Imperial Stars which, I gather, is an omnibus edition of the first three Flandry novels and thus has exactly the same contents as Young Flandry, the fourth volume of Baen Books The Technic Civilization Saga. Young Flandry is a more appropriate title for this opening trilogy because the phrase "The Imperial Stars" could equally be applied to the entire Flandry series. But The Imperial Stars has a more engaging and appropriate cover illustration.
When Miriam, nicknamed "Banner," comes to Earth to find Flandry, we are told a little, not very much, about the Abrams' home planet of Dayan. Banner was born in Bethyaakov, spent her childhood "...among the red-gold Tammuz mountains..." and sometimes visited provincial communities of which even the biggest, Starfall, seems like a village when compared with the Imperial capital of Archopolis (Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, p. 43).
From the terminal, it feels as though she can see a thousand towers and she knows that they continue:
"...around the curve of the planet. Archopolis was merely a nexus; no matter if the globe had blue oceans and green open spaces - some huge, being property of nobility - it was a single city." (p. 44)
So Terra has become like Trantor, the capital city-planet of Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire. What I remember of Trantor:
like the Cities of Asimov's Robot novels, it is entirely roofed over so that citizens walk or drive along not streets but corridors;
the only vegetation is in the grounds of the Imperial Palace;
cooling towers are extended out onto the night side;
the produce of twenty agricultural planets is necessary to feed Trantor every day.
As always when comparing Asimov with Anderson, I find Anderson's account of an entirely urbanized planet less implausible. Banner does see towers from the outside. The planet has several large open spaces. Further, I remember Asimov referring to mankind's final, almost contemptuous conquest of a planet whereas Anderson knows better and can always describe natural as well as artificial environments. From the highest tower of the Coral Palace, the Emperor and the Grand Duke see:
"A clear dome overlooked lower roofs, lesser spires, gardens, trianons, pools, bowers, finally beach, sand, surf, nearby residential rafts, and the Pacific Ocean. Sheening and billowing under a full Luna, those waters gave a sense of ancient forces still within this planet that man had so oedipally made his own, still biding their time." (p. 50)
Again we encounter Anderson's extensive vocabulary. What is a trianon?