Monday, 24 June 2013

On The Sunda Strait

Another science fiction writer might have told the same story but with a less rich text. In Poul Anderson's Mirkheim (London, 1978), Chapter XVIII, Hanny Lennart, Special Assistant Minister of Extrasolar Relations for the Solar Commonwealth, and Eric Tamarin, Admiral of the Hermetian Space Navy, discuss the current Babur War over lunch. Minimally, the author could have stated just that they were in a private room of a hotel or restaurant and moved straight to the dialogue, as in a radio play.

Instead, Anderson always attends to - and devotes time and text to - colorful details enhancing the reader's enjoyment:

Eric has chosen the Tjina House, recommended by van Rijn;
twenty one boys lay out the meal and withdraw from the private room, leaving the diners to ring if they want more;
a wall has been retracted to let tropical sea air enter;
it is "...a lovely day along the Sunda Strait..." (p. 182);
multi-colored garden terraces with palms and bamboo descend to the cobalt blue sea where a cargo carrier and sail boats are visible;
there is an unseen flute player;
Eric enjoys beer and curry;
near the bottom of the first page of the chapter, the political discussion begins but we are glad to have seen where the speakers are first!

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