Sunday, 5 July 2015

Old Lancaster And New Virginia

This weekend, my attention is divided between Lancaster, North West England, and New Virginia, alternative timeline.

In Lancaster:

hot weather;

seeing my daughter in an extras role in an amdram (amateur drama) production at the Grand Theatre;

eating a Chinese takeaway before watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Hollywood version, on dvd;

this afternoon, driving to a nearby village to watch cricket.

In FirstSide and New Virginia, the two timelines in SM Stirling, Conquistadors (New York, 2004), various events occur. A Rolf Mining and Minerals front organization funds expeditions to capture animals for San Diego Zoo and keeps some of the animals, presumably for experimentation. No, John Rolfe VI, the Founder of New Virginia, releases dangerous African and Asian animals in his pre-Columbian North America because he likes them and enjoys hunting. A vehicle driven by his granddaughter is chased by a large rhino. Sf is about logically working out the implications of fictional premises. However, the whims of powerful individuals can be random and unpredictable. This whim strikes me as insane.

The granddaughter, Adrienne, shows the captured cop, Tom Christiansen, around the Rolfe domain, then takes him and his partner to meet the Founder. A town of a thousand people serves Rolfe Manor. Beyond the town, they drive along a mile-long paved lane, between pastures, vineyards and olive groves, with a double row of large redwoods on each side, branches meeting overhead. Beyond this awesome, cathedral-like avenue, the road circles around a large fountain towards a long brick wall with an iron gate showing the Rolfe lion and poles bearing the flags of domain and Commonwealth. The gate is guarded by uniformed, helmeted troopers displaying the lion in black on their shoulder flashes. The sergeant salutes Adrienne and inspects the Commonwealth ID cards that have been issued to the others. They pass through the gate with its discrete surveillance cameras into a park with deer, oaks, streams, ponds, flower beds, lawns, a hedge maze and big ever-green magnolias on each side of the curving avenue.

There is a long tiled walkway to the main entrance of the great house. The entrance is surrounded by gilded marble pillars supporting a balcony from which similar pillars support the roof. A secretary shows them into the entrance hall with its sweeping staircases and floor of green malachite and white marble. Down arched corridors with niches displaying treasures, up a long staircase to a second story hallway as wide as the house with tall windows and paintings that are either excellent fakes or the originals with the fakes left in FirstSide museums, through an outer office to a door where the secretary finally announces, "'Sir, Miss Rolfe and party...'" (p. 362). The oval inner sanctum has many windows, a fireplace, a chandelier, furniture and a man. What an impressive approach! Like going to Barsoom to meet the Jeddak of Helium and the Warlord.

The Founder and his visitors discuss how to counteract a conspiracy. We are to learn that a rival Family has duplicated the Gate complex. Big changes are afoot in the Commonwealth. I still cannot tell whether Tom will return to FirstSide or will wind up living happily ever after on the other side of the Gate.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Very impressive, indeed! As we can see in CONQUISTADOR itself, John Rolfe VI is described as king in all but name of the Commonwealth of New Virginia, altho he was content merely to have the title of Chairman of the Commission which ruled this new nation. Later, he abdicated and his son Charles succeeded as Chairman (with his father as Chairman Emeritus).

    I do wonder how long such modest titles can LAST if the Rolfes continued to be the de facto sovereigns? I can see later Rolfes coming to be called "King," or at least "Prince" of New Virginia.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete