Wednesday, 8 July 2015
Pros And Cons Of A Special Case
In SM Stirling's Conquistador (New York, 2004), Tom Christiansen and Roy Tully must assess the Commonwealth of New Virginia to which they have been shanghaied. Tom hears a swing band, remembers swing-dancing from his teens, then:
"Then a thought hit him with a sudden chill: It probably wasn't a swing revival. For all he knew, it had never gone out of fashion, in this enclave of the dimensionally displaced. The population was too small to generate many fashions of their own, and if they were cut off from the living currents of society on FirstSide by choice or circumstance..." (p. 411)
The Commonwealth works as effectively as it does because it is small. Tully remarks that it is not the USA and that he is uncomfortable with the patron-client relationship but that on the whole the society is not too bad, better than some of the US's allies, also that the Rolfe regime is better than the gang conspiring against it. His new girlfriend likes living and working on Adrienne Rolfe's estate like her father before her but is also free to leave and would have a dozen employment opportunities, or even marriage offers from farm owners or horse trainers, elsewhere. As a Rolfe affiliate, she can go to Adrienne or to Adrienne's father for help if necessary and points out that FirstSiders cannot appeal to the governor or to Bill Gates in such a way. A difference of scale.
"'How anyone can live FirstSide, from what the video shows, is beyond me.'" (p. 415)
But we do live FirstSide although some parts of this world are indeed terrible. Sandra displays her small town lack of imagination. Being born and growing up FirstSide is not the same shocking experience as being suddenly transferred FirstSide from the Commonwealth would be.