Saturday, 21 June 2014

An Occupied Planet

This post continues a line of thought started here.

Dan Dare: The Reign Of The Robots, Doctor Who: Dalek Invasion and Poul Anderson's "Hunters of the Sky Cave" all recall World War II: occupation; street patrols; underground resistance. In Anderson's story, the Ardazirho have invaded and occupied the human extrasolar colony planet, Vixen. Unlike Dare's Treens and the Doctor's Daleks, the Ardazirho are not continuing villains. However, Aycharaych is behind them.

After landing covertly on Vixen and joining the resistance, Dominic Flandry reflects that a local man's hunting skills are transferable to resistance fighting. But surely such skills are also part of Intelligence work? In a Frederick Forsyth novel, a British secret agent organizing resistance in Iraqi-occupied Kuwait remains hidden and motionless but alert for eight hours while watching a possibly compromised dead letter drop before concluding that it is safe to approach it. Sure, his life depends on it. Nevertheless, this is admirable. To remain motionless and alert for eight hours is not only a day's work but a skilled day's work, and the skill is transferable to meditation, in particular to zazen. I try unsuccessfully to remain focused for half an hour.

How is Intelligence gathered? Flandry allows himself to be captured in order to learn the enemy's language, then escape. The easiness of escape is implausible. Of course, escape from capture by armed enemies is a familiar routine in action-adventure fiction and Anderson always writes his escape scenes well although their frequency diminishes their plausibility.

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