Saturday, 22 June 2013

Starfall On Hermes

If human beings do ever cross interstellar distances and colonize extrasolar planets, then inhabit them for centuries, then they will build cities that become the homes of many generations of individuals. Poul Anderson shows this happening many times in his History of Technic Civilization.

Sandra Tamarin, returning by air to Starfall, first sees the city dark against the brightness of Daybreak Bay, then discerns details:

the red brick Mayory;
St Carl's Church spire;
the Hotel Zeus on Phoenix Boulevard;
flowers around Elvander's statue in Riverside Common;
dense traffic and busy terrace cafes on Constitution Square;
Jackboot Lane where she in her youth had drunk like generations before her in the Ranger's Roost tavern;
Pilgrim Hill with its trees, gardens, Signal Station, Old Keep and New Keep where Sandra now resides as Grand Duchess of Hermes.

All of this is centuries old and as solid and substantial as any Terrestrial city, yet could be destroyed by nuclear bombardment. Anderson makes us see what Sandra and her generation would lose if that were to happen. 

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