Thursday, 3 December 2015
Brontothor, Avalon And Drakia
Avalon is a colonized extrasolar planet;
Drakia is an alternative historical country -
- in the soaring imaginations of Poul Anderson and SM Stirling, respectively.
Rereading - and therefore also blogging about rereading - is arbitrary. Whimsically, I reread Poul Anderson's The People Of The Wind, then his "Flight to Forever," and have not yet finished discussing the latter. It must be unusual to find so much to say about a pulp story of that period.
Meanwhile, I cannot escape from the dreaded Draka in SM Stirling's The Stone Dogs (New York, 1990). This book deploys the sf cliche of an "aircar" but also gives us some idea of how it might work:
a six-seater with "...twin ceramic axial flow turbines, vector-thrust VTOL, variable-geometry wings that could fold right into the oval fuselage..." (p. 119);
the four rear seats "...recliners, swivel-mounted around a table-console and bar..." (ibid.);
"'...central control under two thousand meters...'" (p. 120);
can be flown manually, by computer or by ground control;
ceramic turbines can be hot enough to melt metal or an asphalt landing stage;
run on kerosene;
the canopy can change from clear to mirror to black;
landing causes a miniature dust storm;
can be driven by road or on water and can take off anywhere.
On p. 126, a Draka jokes with her friend about how they treat their serfs:
"'I'll spoil my half an' yo' can flog the othah...'"
On the facing page, we read:
"The Protracted Struggle is as clear-cut an example of a struggle between good and evil, freedom and slavery, as human history affords."
Indeed it is. Faced with such an enemy, I think that I would have to accept "...compulsory National Service for both sexes..." (ibid.) It is a relief when, on p. 128, we leave the stifling company of the Drakian pilots and join some of their opposite numbers in the Alliance.