Saturday, 29 June 2013
One of the stated purposes of Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series was to convey the variety and wonder of the universe. One way in which he did this was, with each new story, to create or reveal new information within the established framework of his Technic Civilization series, of which the Flandry series is a part. Thus, as Diana converses with the Wodenite, a history emerges that is familiar to her and partly familiar, but mostly new, to us:
the Dakota people had tried to retain their identity in North America;
during the Breakup, they emigrated to the planet Atheia and founded an autonomous community, Dakotia, where Maria Crowfeather was born;
about forty years ago, Ensign Dominic Flandry, who has since become a Fleet Admiral, discovered that the planet Starkad was about to be destroyed when its sun went nova;
the Empire evacuated some Starkadians, both Tigeries and Seafolk, to Imhotep because this nearby planet was sufficiently similar to Starkad, already had a scientific base with support industries and was in the same system as Daedalus, a colony with a Naval base;
Maria Crowfeather, a xenologist in the resettlement project, met Flandry on one of his visits, became pregnant and gave birth to Diana;
three years ago, Maria was killed by a sudden tidal bore on a strange coast;
Maria's then partner wanted to enroll Diana in the Navy school on Daedalus and get her married to an officer;
however, Diana ran away because:
"Meanwhile Tigeries were hunting through hills where wind soughed in waves across forests, and surf burst under three moons upon virgin islands." (Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, p. 214)
"She had passed her life among Tigeries and Seafolk." (ibid.)
It seems that Diana has fulfilled the dream of every teenage reader of juvenile adventure fiction. She has run away from an officious foster parent, avoided conformity and adventured with exotic beings exploring a new planet.
While Diana and the Wodenite, Axor, speak, it also emerges that he has heard "'...tales of Admiral Flandry's exploits.'" (p. 213) In true future historical style, having read an entire series narrated from Flandry's point of view, we now move to another part of the same fictitious universe there to encounter beings leading different kinds of lives but for whom Flandry is a public figure.