Monday, 22 September 2014


I have remarked before on how strange it would be to live in a civilization where intelligent beings met in the course of everyday work or business could have any size or shape of body. People who got used to such a situation really would inhabit a world different from ours. In Poul Anderson's A Circus Of Hells, Djana, a prostitute, goes, as she thinks, to meet a client.

Instead, she faces Rax, the sole member of his species on Irumclaw: a lumpy, gray body on four thin legs, the head at its middle level with her waist, one tentacle holding a vocalizer converting buzzes and whistles from the lower beak into Anglic. Djana thinks that inter-species sex is wrong although Rax suspects that she could be bought. However, as it happens, sex between his species and human beings is impossible and he wants to conduct a different kind of business - although an extremely dangerous one, nevertheless.

Imagine going anywhere to meet a new business contact or make a new acquaintance and being faced with something like Rax. But this can happen all the time in the Terran Empire:

"...many autochthons were present and space travelers of numerous different breeds circulated among them."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 205.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

And your comment about imagining meeting many different kinds of non humans for personal or business reasons happening many, many times in the Terran Empire reminded me, oddly, of Shalmu. One of the results of Aaron Snelund's bad governorship of Sector Alpha Crucis seems to have been many Shalmuans signing on as space hands on merchant ships. Chives, of course, Flandry's invaluable "gentleman's gentlebeing", is the Shalmuan we know best.