Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Horse Trader II

Terminology gets recycled among so many stories. Men are addressed as "Freeman" in Poul Anderson's "Horse Trader" (Space Folk, New York, 1989) as they are in the Polesotechnic League period of his Technic Civilization History. As the phrases "Polesotechnic" and "Horse Trader" suggest, both the individual story and the series deal with trade - although they are very different kinds of trade for different kinds of goods.

Anderson uses the name "Almerik" which I think is a planet in a fantasy series? 

I found "Horse Trader" somewhat anticlimactic - an amazing premise:

"'...something great is in embryo among the stars, a whole new thing, a...a civilization of civilizations. These technical exchanges are just the beginning.'" (p. 277)

- but all we get is a few of the technical exchanges and a detective story, albeit a reasonably neat one. We should have been able to identify the data thief from among the story's assembled cast.

I commented in an earlier post that, in "Horse Trader," Anderson mentions but does not describe the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri A III, leaving us free to imagine that they are the large humanoid warrior women of "Captive of the Centaurianess," although I could not be sure that the author had intended us to make that connection. Well, he does describe the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri A II and they are large humanoid warrior men so I think it is indeed probable that Anderson was remembering "Captive" when he wrote "Horse Trader."

A being from Epsilon Indi is referred to as an "Epsilonian" although there is a temptation to coin the term "Indian".

I just do not buy a succession of aliens that resemble, respectively, a duck, a walrus-mustached centaur, a demon (who sits on his tail like a Merseian) and a Viking. Either the ET's are not out there or they are nothing that we could imagine, which is why Arthur C Clarke kept them off-screen in 2001.

And the story leaves us with a question, although scarcely with a cosmic one: what might "amphitronics" mean?

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