Friday, 14 June 2013

Dayan And Terra

Let us say that The Game Of Empire is not a Dominic Flandry novel but a novel in which Flandry cameos. In that case, the last Flandry novel properly so called is A Stone In Heaven. In that case, further, Max Abrams recruits Flandry to Intelligence in the first Flandry novel, Ensign Flandry, and Miriam Abrams, daughter of Max, gets together with Flandry at the end of the last Flandry novel, A Stone In Heaven.

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?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

"Trianon" basically means a smaller palace/s near a larger palace. Origin of the term goes back to the smaller palaces built by Louis XIV and Louis XV at Versailles. A "trianon" was meant to be used at times as a more private, more personal, and less official and formal residence.

Yes, I agree, the SFBC cover for THE IMPERIAL STARS is much better than the hideous Baen Books cover for YOUNG FLANDRY.

And some of the non urbanized parts of Terra in Flandry's time included mountainous areas like the High Sierra. I would not be surprised if it was forbidden by law to urbanize places like the High Sierra.

And I appreciate the glimpses we get of Archopolis in A STONE IN HEAVEN, and wish we were given more. I've even wondered if the "nexus" which was Archopolis was centered in Contantinople. That city is as close to being in the middle of Terra as it's possible to be, IMO. Its strategic location between Europe and Asia (and not too far from Africa) made it an inspired choice as the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Yes, I agree in finding Anderson's description of a largely urbanized Terra more convincing than Asimov's Trantor. Largely because Anderson allows for more variety: a world wide city interspersed with large or huge wilderness or park areas.

All these notes of yours and I'm thinking of rereading the entire Flandry series, instead of depending on my memory or quick "look it up" skims. (Smiles)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

A few more words to fill out my previous remarks. I shouuld have added that, besides public/private parks and mountainous preserves, I'm sure parts of Terra would be set aside for agricultural purposes. So Terra would not be completely dependent on off planet imports for food.

I've been thinking about Flandry's comment about