Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Mixed Ecology

Poul Anderson conveys the richness of the Avalonian environment with detailed descriptions of what can be seen from particular vantage points. From a balcony of the tower of the Weathermaker Choth, Nat Falkayn sees, first, the imported organisms:

meadows full of grazing meat animals brought from Ythri;
Terrestrial grass, clover, oak and pine;
Ythrian starbell, wry, braidbark and copperwood -

- then, beyond the cultivated area, native Avalonian organisms:

the red mat of susin;
intensely green chasuble bushes;
delicately blue janie;
a flock of leather-winged draculas.

Susin must be the local equivalent of grass, surface-covering vegetation that can be cropped down to ground level without being killed. Anderson always describes this on each colonized planet.

Again, the view from a hospital window displays the mixed ecology:

"...a lawn and tall trees - Avalonian king's-crown, Ythrian windnest, Earthly oak - and a distant view of snowpeaks. Light spilled from heaven. The air sang."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2012), p. 321.

These are the moments to be savored in Anderson's works. There are many such passages, to be found when rereading since they are usually forgotten soon after a single reading.

(Ythrian hammerbranch has found its way to Aeneas: see here.)

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