Sunday, 24 May 2015


Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

A magnetic flare from the accretion disk of the black hole might divert the plasma stream of a space boat's reaction drive or "...start ruinous waves of resonance." (p. 339) However:

"The boat's collimating fields compensated." (ibid.)

Despite this:

"'A magnetic pulse of very high power seriously interfered with plasma collimation...'" (p. 341)

The term, "collimation," seemed familiar so I referred back to James Blish, "Nor Iron Bars" IN Blish, Galactic Cluster (London, 1963), pp. 61-92:

"...collimation-cruising..." (p. 69);

"'...I can use the star as a beacon to collimate my next measurements.'" (p. 87);

"'It'll be cut and dried into a routine after it's collimated -'" (p. 91)

This story can be seen as one episode of a future historical sequence by Blish. See here and here.

Apart from "collimation," there were one or two other words in Starfarers today that needed googling. However, since I was unwell and bed-ridden, I failed to make a note of them. But the message is clear: Anderson's rich vocabulary means that it makes sense to note unusual words and google them frequently.

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