Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Nicholas van Rijn
-Poul Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), p. 519.
Van Rijn replies:
Adzel is too naive and trusting;
most other people are too stupid, hysterical, ideological, greedy (!) or cruel;
van Rijn can pray for the intercession of St Dismas;
he is in fact informing and conferring with other good people as far as possible, although discretely;
he does go on to discuss the matter further with the "naive" Adzel.
Adzel acknowledges that he himself does not want the responsibility. We might laugh at van Rijn saying that some others are too greedy but, in fact, he knows better than to enjoy luxuries while Rome burns, so to say. It is others who wreck the Polesotechnic League by doing that. Van Rijn's faith in saintly intercession seems superficial but turns out to be sincere. It is his last point that clinches the argument. He does in fact "'...make connections in this life too...'" (p. 520), as he puts it. And, as he also says, even if he did hand the decision-making to someone else, that itself would be a decision of his for which he would be responsible.
I am sure that most of us see the Shenna as nothing but a threat but van Rijn has the imagination to realize that they are an entire race and even to recognize potential customers among them! Mercantile, but better than militarist. Finally, his faith in St Dismas turns out to have a practical application when his small statue of the saint becomes a weapon in a fight against an individual Shenn. Poul Anderson draws out every possible implication of his fictional premises.