Monday, 6 October 2014

More On Freehold

See Freehold, Freehold II, Aruli, Why Freeholders Leave The Cities and Arulians And Outbackers.

The opening paragraph of Poul Anderson's "Outpost of Empire," set on the humanly colonized planet of Freehold, states that the star Betelgeuse is nearby. That alone informs knowledgeable readers not only that this colony is on the edge of the Terran Empire but also that it is on the side that faces towards the enemy, the Roidhunate of Merseia.

I was puzzled by the passage that introduces John Ridenour:

"John Ridenour had arrived that day. But he had made planetfall a week earlier..."
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 4.

What is the difference between arriving and making planetfall? However, this introductory sentence means not that he had arrived on the planet but that he had arrived in Domkirk, having made planetfall in Sevenhouses, then gone to military headquarters in Nordyke before visiting Domkirk to interview prisoners there. It takes a while for the reader to unravel events because, immediately after telling us that he "...had arrived that day...," the text backtracks to Ridenour approaching Freehold in the merchant spaceship, Ottokar.

Anderson expounds to the reader by creating opportunities for the characters to expound to each other:

Ridenour expounds on the Freehold environment to the steward's mate;
Ridenour internally expounds to himself on the smallness of the Terran Empire when contrasted with the galaxy and the universe;
Lieutenant Sadik expounds on the current war to Ridenour;
Ridenour expounds on Freehold politics to an Arulian prisoner;
the mayor of Domkirk expounds on the outbackers to Ridenour, who thinks, "Good Lord...I have found a man who can out-lecture me." (p. 16)

(Thus, Anderson acknowledges to the readers that they have been lectured for a few pages - but it is all interesting subject-matter.)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

And this reminds me of ow "info dumps" is a feature seen most often in the science fiction genre. That is, SF writers often have to include information about their invented worlds, backgrounds, technology, etc., far more than they would need to in more "realistic" genres. Poul Anderson manages to make his info dumps more interesting than they might other wise have been and integrate them as smoothly as possible into his stories.


Paul Shackley said...


Paul Shackley said...

I had a tooth out today but managed to post twice on Comics Appreciation.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I hope you are not in too much pain and that you heal well from the tooth removal.

And I will look at your latest notes in the Comics Appreciation page. I fear I had childish tastes in comics when I was a boy. My favorites were the Walt Disney comic books, esp. the ones about Donald Duck and his uncle Scrooge McDuck! (Smiles)