Wednesday, 18 September 2013
One passage is similar to Isaac Asimov's The Caves Of Steel. The city Lora is "...a single integrated unit..." (The Long Way Home, St Albans, Herts, 1975, p. 61), all buildings connected and lower levels roofed over. Two thousand feet below the high towers and moving bridgeways of the Ministerial level, Commoners inhabit sunless, skyless metal corridors lacking slideways.
(Differences from The Caves Of Steel: all inhabitants of Asimov's Cities live entirely enclosed from birth to death, travel on moving "strips" and would experience agoraphobia if transported to the open countryside of robotic farms.)
Anderson conveys the confusion of an Asian city in Lora's lower levels:
air is fresh but pumping sounds are constant;
naked children run through the crowd;
booths sell cheap pottery and jewelry;
a porter carries machine parts;
two men play dice in the middle of the traffic;
there is a tavern and a sprawling drunk;
members of rival, uniformed guilds fight with their fists;
a streetwalker approaches a laborer;
a Ganymedean merchant talks to a local buyer;
servants clear a way for a rich man riding a small vehicle;
an apprentice carries a tool box behind his master;
a masked, knife-bearing assassins' guild member (!) passes;
a vendor pushing a food cart cries his wares.
But why must the Commoners spend their lives here? That question is discussed later in the novel.