Thursday, 1 August 2013

Continuing Conquests

Continuing to reread Poul Anderson's Conquests/Seven Conquests, I have completed three of the seven stories. What did I forget to say about the second story, "Wildcat"?

First, it has a good fight scene between men with guns in jeeps and a tyrannosaur. Secondly, I have formed the habit of noting words in Anderson's extensive vocabulary that I am unfamiliar with. When the viewpoint character relieves a guard, the latter hands over his rifle and adds, "'And here's the glim...'" (Seven Conquests, New York, 1984, p. 75). From the context, I infer that he means his flashlight. Of course, in a visual medium, we would see what he was handing over.

The doctor says of a patient, "'He can do light work with that Stader on his arm.'" (p. 61) Stader?

And why does the chaplain call the oil rig men "'...wildcatters...,'" the phrase that becomes the title of the story? (p. 63)

Back to the third story, "Cold Victory." The Captain demonstrates that the anti-Humanist counterrevolution succeeded because of chance events, accidents, but the academic insists that Humanism is a historical movement that will not be deflected so easily so their philosophical disagreement remains unresolved.

"Cold Victory" addresses the harrowing issue of brothers on opposite sides in a civil war. In this case, the one who wins dies. The story also cameos a character whose condition is addressed in another installment of the Psychotechnic future history, a tramp who draws his citizen's allowance and preserves old stories: one of the millions permanently unemployed because of advanced technology.

Although this tramp is not embittered, the condition of millions like him is a cause of the war:

"'Psychotechnic government had failed to solve the problems of Earth's adjustment to living on a high technological level. Conditions worsened until all too many people were ready to try desperation measures. The Humanist revolution was the desperation measure that succeeded in being tried.'" (p. 87)

As often, I could quote more but must close the quotation marks somewhere. This is an early work by Anderson and here he is using a character, the Martian academic, to summarize an entire period of this future history.


  1. "Wildcatters" are oil drillers, and, as I understand it, not Exxon-Mobil employees drilling an additional well in a known oil field, but entrepreneurs taking the risk of drilling in a new place, hoping to strike it rich, sometimes successfully, sometimes less so, sometimes not finding oil at all.

    Regards, Nicholas