Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Satan And Mirkheim
Satan, in Satan's World, is a rogue planet that becomes industrially valuable when its frozen environment is re-activated by a close swing around Beta Crucis. Mirkheim, in "Lodestar" and Mirkheim, is a former super-Jovian planet whose sun went supernova and is industrially valuable as the only known source of supermetals. These are the sorts of resources that corporations compete to control and that civilized planets wage wars about.
There are two levels of speculative fiction here:
Might such planets exist out there in the galaxy so that they could be, for example, detected by Earth-based astronomers or discovered by a single expedition traveling at sub-light speed?
Might an interstellar civilization with faster than light capability be able to exploit such planets - with what economic, political and military consequences?
Satan's World and Mirkheim are the two trader team novels and both are centered on the discovery of a rare and industrially valuable planet. The non-scientific reader must be careful to remember why each of these planets is valuable and also how they differ.
The Grand Duchy of Hermes gained the stewardship of Mirkheim which, however, was later taken from the Duchy and placed directly under the control of the Empire. What of Satan? Vice Admiral Kheraskov tells Dominic Flandry that, in their time, Satan is "'...an ancient possession of the Duke of Hermes.'" (The Rebel Worlds, London, 1973, p. 21) Why should Hermes have got Satan also? Is it because Nicholas van Rijn controlled Satan and his protege, David Falkayn, was Hermetian?
Satan is in Sector Alpha Crucis of the Terran Empire whereas Hermes and nearby Mirkheim are in Sector Antares. The Rebel Worlds informs us that, during the Troubles, which separated van Rijn's era from the Empire, ownership of Satan "...varied...wildly..." and that "For a while it was abandoned." (p. 87) Eventually, "...an Imperial aristocrat sent down a self-piloting freighter..." (p. 88), but we are not told that that aristocrat was the Duke of Hermes.
"The defense of Satan became a major reason to garrison and colonize Sector Alpha Crucis." (p. 88)
So it does not sound as though Hermes, in Sector Antares, is involved in that defense? I wonder whether, when Anderson had Kheraskov tell Flandry that Satan belonged to Hermes, he was temporarily confusing Satan with Mirkheim?