Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Surface Of Mirkheim

Mirkheim, the supermetal-coated remnant of a giant planet of a massive star that went supernova, is unlit by any sun so might resemble a rogue planet except that its surface is:

not covered by dust or frozen atmosphere;
not cratered;
metallic, hard, blank, dimly shining, almost mirror-like;
in some places, fantastically ridged and corrugated by congealed moltenness;
with five Terrestrial gravities and enough radioactivity to kill in weeks.

Rogue planets, which feature in more than one work by Anderson, are sunless because they move through interstellar space. Mirkheim, which appears in a short story and a novel, is sunless because its sun exploded a long time ago. Sunlessness suggests sameness but Anderson takes the trouble to imagine the differences, as summarized above.

Shortly before Sandra Tamarin visits Mirkheim, David Falkayn has visited the sub-Jovian Babur. Thus, although Anderson describes many beautiful humanly colonized planets like Hermes, Avalon and Dennitza, he also envisages planetary surfaces that are as inhospitable as space itself and also shows us what his characters see when they explore such places.

Living beings venture to Mirkheim not to live there but to mine the supermetals which are so valuable that a war is fought over them.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    Just a small correction, rogue planets don't "orbit" in deep space. Planets can only orbit when gravitational attraction from a sun swings it around that star. Alternately, moons orbits around larger planets for the same reason (such as Wayland in A CIRCUS OF HELLS). In "A Sun Invisible," we see a rare case of a giant star with no planets of its own capturing rogue planets so that they orbit the star.


  2. I am not sure about that, Sean. Granted that, by definition, rogue planets do not orbit around stars, I thought that any path through space could be described as an "orbit." Or, if an orbit has to be around something, maybe rogues, like stars, orbit around the galactic centre? However, I have changed the wording of the post.

  3. Hi, Paul!

    Well, astronomers agree in saying rogue planets orbit around the galactic center. So, they do "orbit" in that sense. And I noticed the revision you made. One which is less likely to cause puzzlement. Of course, I'm sure we would both be glad if an expert in astronomy cares to comment!

    Started rereading A CIRCUS OF HELLS, as part of my program of rereading the Dominic Flandry books (along with THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN) in proper chronological order.


  4. I have also added more detail on the surface conditions on this post and some more member planets of Supermetals on the "Some Important Organizations" post.