Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Items About Falkayn

Today was the return journey from Staffordshire to Lancaster so there has been little time or energy for blogging. Tomorrow, there will be a funeral in the morning and afternoon and a small sf group gathering in the evening.

In "The Three-Cornered Wheel," Falkayn alone realizes that a shape other than a circle can be used to move objects, although I still do not fully understand the explanation, but surely some of his colleagues would have realized the same or at least would have understood his interrupted explanation?

In "A Sun Invisible," he ingeniously deduces the location and explanation of a planetary system and also devises a new way to send a message in secret: jumping his ship in and out of hyperspace in League code. In "The Trouble Twisters," he realizes how to contact Muddlehead, his ship's computer, even though he and his colleagues have lost their radio transmitters. In this last case, we have a standard example of an Anderson hero faced with a problem suddenly realizing the solution:

"If we could have called the ship -'
"And then his mind rocked. He stumbled back and sat down on the bed.'"
-Poul Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), p. 191.

Recognizing the signs, we know what this means: he has suddenly realized how to call the ship. In "A Sun Invisible," the realization was gentler:

"He woke some hours later, and there was his solution. For a while he lay staring at the overhead, awed by his genius."
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2010), p. 307.

Usually our hero is fully awake when his genius operates!

A novel is a long prose fiction. My rule of thumb for novel length is 100+ pages. Thus, I would count "The Trouble Twisters," stretching from p. 77 to p. 208 of David Falkayn: Star Trader as a novel. However, it is undeniably shorter than Satan's World (pp. 329-598), which was originally published as a novel.

League training must include guidance in how to function effectively when facing a being whose body can have any size or shape. (For previous discussion of this issue, see here.) In "A Sun Invisible," Falkayn meets a slim, furry tyrannosaur with a large, iridescent dorsal fin and a tapir-snouted, bat-wing-eared humanoid with cilia on his head and tendrils above his eyes. Falkayn walks into an office and converses with these individuals as easily as if they had been human beings. Most of us would just run.

I am rereading the van Rij story, "Hiding Place," which is based on the idea of diverse body shapes, and will post about it shortly, although it will take some time to list the organisms involved.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    The bit about Falkayn being "awed" by his genius amused me! It's an example of the kind of wry humor Poul Anderson so often slipped into his stories.