Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Etie Town

Poul Anderson's The Long Way Home (St Albans, Herts, 1975) is also good on Terrestrial-ET relations:

"The spacemen accepted [a new alien] almost casually, they were used to non-human intelligence." (p. 122)

It is worth making this point instead of simply showing the characters coping with a new kind of intelligent being as if he (this one is male) were just another human being.

"A huge shape came around a corner. It had four legs, a torso with arms, a nonhuman head. Langley hailed it...The alien looked blankly at him and moved on...Etie Town, the section reserved for visitors of other races, was somewhere around here...most of the compartments would be sealed off, their interiors poisonous to him." (p. 71)

So, again, aliens, even a large quadruped, are taken for granted although precautions must be taken against poisonous atmospheres.

Later, Langley does visit Etie Town. Outworlders employ human servants for prestige and must pay them high salaries. Terrestrials practice slavery but do not allow aliens to own human beings. A Slimer (a merchant from Srinis) employs a cook, a maid and a formidable butler, who must work in greenish yellow light and a thick, damp mist.

These imaginative details in just a few passages increase the richness of the book. In Etie Town:

"They went down a broad street full of strangeness." (p. 166)

- but, this time, the "strangeness" is not described so the reader gets to exercise some imagination.

During Langley's visit to Etie Town, I do not understand the reference to "...the Private Eye school..." (ibid.)

No comments: