Tuesday, 28 October 2014
How To Revolutionize A Planet
Nicholas van Rijn similarly changes Diomedean society:
"'I made a new way of life here,' said van Rijn expansively. 'It is not this machine or that one which has already changed your history beyond changing back. It is the basic idea I have introduced: mass production.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 418.
Because van Rijn needs to return home and because the Flock cannot help him to do that until they have won a war, their earliest mass production is of new weapons like repeating dart-throwers and ballistas; also flame throwers, for which they must gather sulfur and oil and develop distillation. Van Rijn also introduces these winged beings to the crucial military role of the infantry (lesson from Terrestrial history: air power alone is never enough), who, however, must wear shields against missiles from above - another item to be mass produced.
Van Rijn also urges the Flock to prioritize military necessity over religious observance. Although he does not quote this example, the Maccabees fought on the Sabbath. A chance remark at this stage discloses that van Rijn has a chaplain back home! No doubt his life-style necessitates frequent recourse to the confessional?
It is clear that Diomedean society will remain changed after van Rijn has completed his personal objective of returning home. Each chapter of The Man Who Counts significantly advances the narrative. We wonder how van Rijn will achieve his apparently impossible objectives but we soon learn how he does it.