Monday, 5 August 2013

Epilogue And Strange Bedfellows

OK. I am still rereading Poul Anderson's "Epilogue" (IN Explorations, New York, 1981), with about thirty pages left, and have come across a (to me) completely unfamiliar word, "...calithiform..." (p. 207) In this case, it was easy to google and find a dictionary definition. My daughter's English Teacher once said, "Her vocabulary shows how much reading she does." How much reading must Poul Anderson have done?

This paragraph gives us a feel for how the robotic ecology works. Having drained his energy and consequently become very hungry, Zero, the nine foot, four-armed "person" (or robot), scouts until he finds some calithiform accumulators, their interiors " with energy storage cells and mineral salts" (ibid.) and eats them unprocessed. Digging into a burrow, he finds "...a female digger...heavy with a half-completed new specimen..." Digger raw materials "...would have been better if treated with heat and acid...," but nevertheless taste good in his grinder. (ibid.)

Next, he must find something to recharge One who needs to process a lot of accumulators, which fortunately grow abundantly near their cave, while she is creating. Motiles are better than accumulators because they have more concentrated energy and are more highly organized so that entire parts can be taken and used with "...little or no reshaping..." (p. 177) After another hour of hunting, he starts a rotor which flees among the rods and crystals but he stops it with a crossbow bolt, dismembers it and packs it in his carrier. (p. 208)

Meanwhile, reflecting back on "Strange Bedfellows," I have thought of another possible meaning for its title but will leave that for other attentive Anderson fans to consider...


Anonymous said...

Epilogue is a fantastic story, worthy of a film short.

Paul Shackley said...

Imagine the sound track!