Monday, 23 November 2015

Reflections On Avalon

"Rochefort...and his hastily assembled crew...ran interference for the lumbering gunships till these were below the dangerous altitude. En route, they stopped a pair of enemy missiles. Though no spacecraft was really good in atmosphere, a torpedo boat combined acceptable maneuverability, ample firepower, and more than ample wits aboard. Machines guided by simple robots were no match."
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 630.

Hold that thought. It is a plausible hypothesis that " spaceship was really good in atmosphere...," but Anderson seems to write with the confidence of experience - and makes us feel that we also know it from experience. A small torpedo boat with a live crew of three has just the right combination of maneuverability and firepower for atmospheric combat. Of course it does. Larger craft, like "...the lumbering guns...," are obviously unsuitable. We knew that before we read this passage, didn't we?

"...the glitter on Falkayn Bay." (p. 647)

Remember that young Polesotechnic League apprentice from Hermes that we met on Ivanhoe? Centuries later, there is a Bay named after him on the planet that calls him Founder. Details like that firmly establish that we are reading a History. Still later, there is an Adzel Square on Aeneas.

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