Sunday, 23 November 2014

Deductions II

Time frames matter. In "A Tragedy of Errors" by Poul Anderson, when Roan Tom, Dagny and Yasmin in  Firedrake approach a new planetary system, they detect radio emissions from that system of human voices speaking Anglic, the old Imperial language that Tom speaks and that Yasmin has learned as a classical language. (Angles, Anglians, Anglicans and English retain that much influence after more than a thousand years of interstellar exploration and colonization.) However, the transmissions cease when Firedrake is still a few light years from the system.

Because Firedrake is FTL (faster than light), Tom and his two wives soon enter the system and identify the only possible planetary source of the transmissions. However, because radio waves are a light speed phenomenon, the event that caused the cessation of the transmissions is by now several years in the past. Tom detects nuked cities but there has been some time for a recovery.

(Another, to me, unfamiliar word: "mukluks" -Flandry's Legacy, p. 462.) 

Dagny makes some more deductions:

Nike had fallen far even before its cities were nuked from space. This is known because:

the "Engineer of Hanno," whose air force attacked Firedrake, is clearly a local feudal lord;
his air force is a few small craft with gravmotors but also wings!;
there are sailboats, no real cities and very little radio.

From this backwardness, it can in turn be deduced that:

there is a small half-educated class with a few technicians but the masses have been poor and ignorant for generations;
the planet is divided into very small lordships and realms;
thus, if the Engineer is the outworlders' enemy, then they must also have potential friends nearby;
if the Engineer has captured Tom and Firedrake, i.e., a spaceship, then other lords are likely to unite against him;
that makes the escaped Dagny and Yasmin valuable potential advisors of an anti-Engineer coalition that might rescue Tom and recover Firedrake.

As when Nicholas van Rijn was stranded on Diomedes, it might be necessary to overturn a political system in order to escape from a planet.

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