Sunday, 26 October 2014
The Man Who Counts, Chapter VI
Van Rijn learns two Diomedean languages simultaneously and surreptitiously, pretending ignorance while accurately reading the conflicts among his captors:
"'I know a little something about politics. It is needful for an honest businessman seeking to make him a little hard-earned profit, else some louse-bound politician comes and taxes it from him for some idiot school [!] or old-age pension.'"
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 370.
(An educated population is an abler work force. Pensioners with purchasing power are a market.)
"'The politics here is not so different from what we do out in the galaxy.'" (ibid.)
Maybe not, but everything else is so different that it takes a genius to discern the politics. Van Rijn discerns:
the throne, in the Fleet, called "the Admiralty";
an old admiral with a disliked crown prince...
He even avails of the thick atmosphere to eavesdrop on gossip when most human beings would be simply overwhelmed by alienness and danger. Anderson's heroes are always able and resourceful but Nick van Rijn exceptionally so.