Wednesday, 12 November 2014

First Island

I have mentioned before - and was surprised when I realized it - that, of Poul Anderson's seven works featuring Ythrians, one was published in 1972, six in 1973. Thus, although these works are set in:

the 24th century
the 26th century (two)
the 29th century
3028 -

(according to Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization), it must have been easy for the author to ensure that the seven cohered future historically. In the 26th century, Nathaniel Falkayn tells his Ythrian friends:

"'I've been sailing myself, around First Island...'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 302.

We know that human beings and Ythrians have colonized different islands in the Hesperian Sea on the planet Avalon but why is one island called the First? In the 29th century, Liaw of The Tarns:

"...and his colleagues stood on the olden site, First Island in the Hesperian Sea. At their backs rose the house of David Falkayn..." (p. 561) -

- Nat's grandfather and the Founder of the Avalonian colony. I have mentioned before that we never see the Falkayns living in that house. Nevertheless, we do find this single reference to First Island back in the early days of the colonization.

We also notice other details. The bird-like Ythrians are said to perch; one even bounces "...from his perch..." (p. 455). The boat used by Nat's friends has "...a perch-bar." (p. 303) Thus, human beings sit on chairs, Merseians squat on their tails and Yhtrians perch on perch-bars. In the boat, Nat must hunker in the bottom because there are no thwarts.

He notices that the boat has neither keel nor centerboard but his friends show him that they have other devices for interacting with the wind and moving across the water. Three centuries later, Tabitha Falkayn, a thoroughly Ythrianized young woman, demonstrates this same Ythrian boat design to a Terran guest.

No comments: