Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Ensign Flandry III

Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest is explicitly Shakespearean as the title proclaims. And we read about Macbeth in the Last Viking Trilogy. It is good to have hints of Shakespeare also in Ensign Flandry. Asked what the planet Starkad is like, Flandry remembers sea, winds, mountains, city, ocean floor, two races, billions of years, and ends, "...the great globe itself..." (Ensign Flandry, London, 1976, p. 192).

Later, exhausted, he thinks, "To sleep, perchance to dream..." (p. 206)

Anderson devises clever ruses by which Flandry, a prisoner, forbidden to act, nevertheless manages to travel on one of the ships that explores the mystery surrounding Starkad and to monitor events as the fleet engages Merseians.

Yet again, Anderson recognizes that grass as we know it will not grow on another planet but something like it might:

"...a meadow of long silvery quasigrass." (p. 211)

It is a pity that Max Abrams does not reappear in the series (although his daughter does meet Flandry a long time later). Abrams is Flandry's mentor and, like Martin Schuster, Falkayn's first boss, represents yet another of the great Terrestrial religions, Judaism.

Ridenour re-appears although merely as an externally observed character. He is curt with Flandry but that is because he is busy on a doomed planet. It is good that he re-appears later in the series and then as a view point character.

When Flandry tells the Starkadian Dragoika that her planet is doomed, he learns something:

"He had not known she could weep." (p. 207)

But she also appears later in the series and has a son who joins Flandry's profession.

It occurs to me that Flandry's conversation with Miriam Abrams includes some elaboration of Chunderban Desai's theory about historical cycles so I will check on that next.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Strictly speaking, in Chapter 16 of ENSIGN FLANDRY, Admiral Enriques, commander of Imperial forces in the Starkadian system, did not arrest Flandry. Rather, he temporarily stayed Lord Hauksberg's charges against Flandry and reattached him to his command. Next,in Chapter 17, Flandry and Dragoika went with the task force dispatched to investigate the veracity of the information revealed by Flandry to Enriques. The admiral was able to do this by virtue of having special powers in case of extraordinary circumstances.

I would also point out that Anderson speculated that human colonists on other worlds would introduce, as needed, Terran plants and animals. Including, in some cases, grass. And that on some worlds, for various reasons, Terran plants would displace native species. Because Terran plants, on some worlds, would be superior to more primitive plants.