Saturday, 16 May 2015
Exploring A Planet
"Wings and empennage, folded into the hull, molecularly remembered their former shapes and deployed." (p. 164)
My computer recognizes neither the noun "empennage" nor the adverb "molecularly." We know the noun "molecule" and the adjective "molecular" so we can derive the adverb "molecularly" but "empennage" would have had me stumped if I had not been able to google or, presumably, refer to a dictionary.
"...a thinly vegetated mesa..." (ibid.)
"Mesa" is the sort of word that I have encountered often enough but nevertheless need to check its precise meaning. Wiki reveals that it is larger than a "butte," a word for which my understanding is considerably vaguer. Of course, Captain Nansen stays in the ship while the boat lands on the mesa, unlike Captain Kirk, always transporting into trouble.
"Sonoptics on shoulders whirred, swung...recording..." (p. 166)
I am having trouble with the word "sonoptics," although I have found it as a trade name here.
The brief exploration of the planet lasts for just five pages. How many extrasolar planets have been explored in fiction? Several works by Poul Anderson and James Blish read like much improved versions of Star Trek, just as Anderson's Terran Empire reads like a much improved version of Asimov's Galactic Empire although I must stop saying that...