Friday, 1 November 2013

Battle Rock House

I have mentioned several comfortable hostelries in Poul Anderson's works. There is one that we might miss at the midpoint of the Psychotechnic History:

"Battle Rock House...is a quiet tavern on the edge of Syrtis Town...on Mars." (Cold Victory, New York, 1982, p. 165)

Its attractions include "...massive sandwood rafters..." and "...competent chess..." (ibid.)

Four converse there:

from Earth, Captain Crane, wearing Solar Guard uniform and insignia;
from Mars, Professor Freylinghausen, wearing an academic gown;
from Venus, Freelady Neilsen-Singh,wearing a Lucifer Clan tartan kilt;
from Luna, Engineer Buwono, wearing the Order of Planetary Engineers uniform.

Thus, this story, "Cold Victory":

 informs us that Venus had developed a clan system after the overthrow of the dictatorship by an Un-man in "The Big Rain";
introduces the Planetary Engineers who will play major roles in "The Snows of Ganymede" and "Brake".

Further, the four-sided conversation informs us that the Humanists, who had plotted in "Holmgang", have, between stories, seized power but not been able to hold it. Thus, this story, linking four others, is pivotal to the future history. Its conversation is a framing device for an account of a crucial space battle during the anti-Humanist counterrevolution.

The characters discuss:

"...the old argument, Historical Necessity versus the Man of Destiny." (p. 165)

I think that the Freelady talks much sense:

"'If there are folk around at a crisis time with enough force, they'll shape the way things turn out...Otherwise things will drift.'" (p. 166)

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