Sunday, 15 September 2013

Duel On Syrtis

I had resisted rereading Poul Anderson's "Duel on Syrtis" (Strangers From Earth, London, 1965) because of its horrific ending. Paralyzed but unsleeping, Riordan is hidden in a cave for a thousand years of hell and insanity.

Riordan had seemed to win his fight with Kreega, the Martian that he had hunted, but Kreega survived and we had been told how he would do it on the third page of the story.

I have lost count of Anderson's fictitious Martian races. Feathered and owl-like, Kreega sounds a bit like the "Martians" of Anderson's Technic Civilization History but the latter are extra-Solar colonists of Mars, not native Martians.

"Duel on Syrtis" was published in Planet Stories in 1951 yet a base on Mars is called Port Armstrong.

Riordan has hunted throughout the Solar System:

Mercurian firedrakes;
Plutonian ice crawlers;
Terrestrial lion, tiger, elephant, buffalo and sheep;
many-legged swamp monsters in Venerian rain forests (another "Fantastic Venus");
a huge blind thing in a Neptunian liquid-gas swamp.

Thus, an old-style much-inhabited Solar System.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Yes, I should have spared a moment of sympathy for Riordan in "Duel in Syrtis." It was wrong and cruel of Kreega to keep Riordan alive in madness for a thousand years. Far better to have killed Riordan outright. Yet another example of Anderon, even so early in his career, trying out any idea!