Friday, 22 May 2015
Pp. 274-277 present a frequent Poul Anderson scenario:
two characters explore an exposed planetary core left by a supernova;
such an environment is entirely unknown, hence the need to explore it;
however, the explorers are confident that there is no immediate danger;
despite their confidence, a sudden land quake opens a crevice that one of the explorers falls into;
however, her companion improvises a rope to pull her out.
I have de-emphasized the particularities of this incident in order to highlight its parallels with many similar occurrences in Anderson's works. The message is always clear: the mere fact that a new environment is mostly unknown means that many of its dangers to human beings are among the unknown features but there is only one way to learn what they are. Explorers, like entrepreneurs, take calculated risks.
I agree with this and suggest further that curiosity will outlast gain as a motive for exploration. Observing the Tahirians' planet-transforming technology at work, Clelland comments:
"'...any, uh, profit motive is irrelevant, when self-maintaining, self-reproducing robots do the work.'" (p. 233)
We understand that the Tahirians use their awesome machines merely to maintain their static civilization for millions of years but (at least some) human beings will always look outward, to "see another mountain."