Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Magicians Who Sold The Moon

Poul Anderson's Operation Luna is the sequel to Anderson's Operation Chaos, which was modeled on Robert Heinlein's Magic, Inc. However, Operation Luna also recalls another work by Heinlein, "The Man Who Sold The Moon." In both of these works, a private company strives to send someone to the Moon and back. However, Heinlein's sf story is about money and a rocket whereas Anderson's fantasy novel is about magic and a steel broomstick.

In Heinlein's story, the Moon landing happens off-stage because the narrative is about how one determined man inspires, finances and organizes the expedition. A supply of high grade rocket fuel is crucial whereas Anderson's implausible premise requires a piece of Moon rock because rocks from the Moon have a magical affinity with it. Native Americans donate a medicine bundle that provides life support. The reader begins to question whether there could be an alternative timeline where such measures were effective.

This reminds me of two other fictional means of interplanetary travel apart from rockets. (Are we told what propels Weston's spherical spaceship in CS Lewis' Out Of The Silent Planet? I can look it up.) HG Wells' Cavor makes Cavorite which is opaque to gravity. Thus, when the Cavorite shutters are closed on the side of the sphere facing Earth and open on the side facing the Moon, the sphere falls towards the Moon. In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Solar System, each planet emits a distinctive ray and a ship approaches a planet by attuning itself to that ray - or something.

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    How much I wish we had bold men of drive, daring, and imagination who could drag us off this rock! To "mis"paraphrase one of the titles of Isaac Asimov's books, "Earth is NOT room enough". Not anymore!

    We need dreamers and DOERS like Delos D. Harriman and Anson Guthrie!

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. Sean,
      But we have Branson. I suspect that the problem is that the economic system cannot afford the capital expenditure of space travel, not the absence of individuals like Harriman.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Apologies, I'm not familiar with Branson.

      And I don't agree that we lack the means or capital for getting off this rock. What we lack is the WILL. Jerry Pournelle, in his book A STEP FURTHER OUT, outlines ways and means of us getting a REAL space program using technology available over thirty years ago.

      Sean

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    3. Sean,
      Sorry. Richard Branson of Virgin, easily googled. He has been trying to run a private space program.
      Paul.

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    4. Kaor, Paul!

      I will be googling Richard Branson! And I wish him success! I even think Mr. Branson might pick up some useful pointers from reading Heinlein's THE MAN WHO SOLD THE MOON.

      Sean

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