Tuesday, 19 May 2015

One Future Earth

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999), Chapter 21.

The low houses and other buildings of Kith Town have endured for centuries while the towers of a city have grown up around them, then their immediate urban neighborhood has declined. Kith Town has a few permanent residents but most Kith families leave their homes unoccupied for decades while they trade between stars. Over a lifetime, a Kithman returns to Earth in different centuries and historical periods. Kenri Shaun was born eight hundred years ago and even some Kith children were born a hundred or more years ago.

During the period when Kith Town is surrounded by a slum, the Terrestrial world state, called the Dominancy, decrees that, when outside the Town, Kith must wear a badge, like Jews in Medieval Europe or Nazi Germany, and must also pay for it, a new extortionate tax. The Dominancy has a genetic hierarchy:

the Star-Free are unspecialized geniuses, aesthetic and ornamental;
Star-A's do intellectual work;
Norm-A's do physical work;
the armed, uniformed guards of residential towers are "...giants bred..." (p. 197).

The Kith have seen the Dominancy become more repressive but will simply outlast it.

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