Saturday, 4 July 2015

Food For Thought

SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2004).

Roy Tully does good intelligence-gathering work in Rolfeston, New Virginia. First, he walks around the city mentally noting everything that he sees, that the city was planned, how it is constructed, what the public buildings look like, how the residential areas are socially differentiated, heroic statues and murals of the Founders of the Commonwealth.

Secondly, in a large public building called the Commission House, he views exhibitions, including "The Heroes Who Built Our Country," with photographs dating from John Rolfe's second trip to the new world. Thirdly, in the library, he reads history books, particularly those aimed at school pupils, and "learns" that:

the Founders were heroes, comparable to the leaders of the thirteen colonies; 
the displaced Indians got what they deserved;
FirstSide is "...a sink of degeneracy and crime..." (p. 309), run by the wrong people.

Fourthly, he talks and listens to ordinary people over a beer and a free lunch:

hard-boiled eggs;
sliced meats;
hot soup;
butter, cheese and olive oil;
smoked salmon;
shrimp salad;
potato salad;
raw vegetables and guacamole;
other ingredients for a smorgasbord;

For earlier information on food, see here. (And breakfast here.)

Roy learns what jobs people do and which FirstSide nationalities they are descended from, hears gossip about the rich and powerful and overhears a political conversation. Having learned much, he leaves, planning which area to check the following day.

Stirling plausibly recounts how such a society would see itself at both official and popular levels. He summarizes this information for the reader by presenting it through the eyes of a spy who must learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    The descriptions of the foods is so tempting! Dang! (Smiles)

    Yes, the way Roy Tully went about gathering informations sounds exactly like what Dominic Flandry would have done. Simply observing and socializing with the New Virginians told him a lot.

    I have to admit that the New Virginian critique of FirstSide America has a good dea of truth, enough to sting. I'll hunt up and send you the link to a recent article I read about the woes and troubles of California. Much of what that article said about CA reminded me a lot of what I'm reading in CONQUISTADOR.


    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Here's another Andersonian bit I found on page 129 of CONQUISTADOR, where Adrienne Rolf was talking to the inquisitive Jim Simmons, one of the Commonwealth's Border Scouts:

      Adrienne punched his shoulder, it felt like striking a board.
      "You'd go toes up in a month, living in Rolfeston, or even on
      an estate in Napa," she said. "And working a regular job in-
      side the frontier would drive you to suicide. You're a wilder-
      ness man through and through.
      " about a brief, meaningless affair, then?"
      "You're incorrigible!"
      "No, the name's Simmons.."

      Ha! This reminded me what readers will see in Chapter XV of WE CLAIM T THESE STARS: "The admiral sat unmoving a moment. Then his mouth crinkled, "You're incorrigible," he said. "And spare me that stock answer, 'No, I'm Flandry,"..."

      Yet another bit of evidence showing how Stirling is also a fan of Poul Anderson!


  2. Replies
    1. Kaor, Paul!

      And I'll be watching out for other Andersonian allusions! (Smiles)


  3. I have added a link to the post "Morning," with its description of a breakfast, in order to pull all the food references together.