Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Man Who Counts, Chapter VIII

Diomedean archers, trained almost from birth, effectively use seven limbs. While flying, with two wings, each of them:

"...gripped a bow as long as himself in his foot talons, drew the cord with both hands and let fly, plucked a fresh arrow from the belly quiver with his teeth..."
-Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 389.

As with driving a car, the entire body is used. (One sf film had US fighter pilots capturing and immediately flying alien aircraft even though the body shape was entirely different.)

Diomedean weapons also include:

weighted nets, pulling enemies to their deaths;
primitive blowguns;
repeater blowguns with bayonets;
fire weapons;

The Fleet army is coordinated by horn calls whereas the Flock has a more flexible Whistler corps. Since "'...the fat Eart'ska...'" (van Rijn) correctly predicts the outcome of a battle, Commander Trolwen jokes that maybe he should command and Tolk, the rescued Herald, more thoughtfully agrees that "'Perhaps...he will.'" (p. 391)

Van Rijn's machinations transcend the differences between species.

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