Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Inconstant Star, Chapters I-III

(The NESFA Call Me Joe collection and Man-Kzin Wars IX, the latter containing Anderson's third contribution to that series, should be in the post.)

Anderson, Poul, "Inconstant Star" IN Niven, Larry, Ed., Man-Kzin Wars III (New York, 1990), pp. 167-310.

This novel length story has XXII chapters of which I have now reread the first three. Of interest so far:

(i) At this early stage of human faster than light interstellar travel, the Saxtorphs own the only free enterprise hyperdrive spaceship in known space:

"...a spacecraft by herself carried awesome destructive potentialities. The commissioners were right to worry about one falling into irresponsible hands. He simply felt that the historical record showed governments as being, on the whole, much less responsible than humans." (p. 185)


(ii) When Wunderland is occupied by the kzinti, few households keep cats any more.

(iii) The first story, "Iron," had mentioned aristocrats who, after the liberation, were accused of collaboration. This second story expands on that idea.

(iv) Yet another interstellar expedition is launched to investigate yet another "'...very interesting astronomical phenomenon...'" (p. 192). In this case, "[a] mysterious source of tremendous energy..." (ibid.) has suddenly appeared a few light years away. Anderson's knowledge of astrophysics enabled him to imagine an endless succession of unusual stars, planets and planetary systems: Satan, Mirkheim, Ramnu, the fifteen billion year old red dwarf and many others. Although I have read this story once before, I have completely forgotten the nature of its "...astronomical phenomenon..." so I am rereading with considerable interest.

The aristocrat suspected of collaboration investigates out of scientific interest or monkey curiosity whereas his kzin superior hopes to gain power and earn a full name by harnessing the new energy source for military purposes, thus winning the War Against Men. As in Satan's World and Mirkheim, Anderson seamlessly blends physics with politics.

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