Friday, 16 September 2016

"Day of Burning," Introductions

Poul Anderson, "Day of Burning" IN Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), pp. 211-272.

The action begins with dialogue between Master Merchant David Falkayn and Morruchan Long-Ax, the Hand of the Vach Dathyr. However, there are two preceding layers of text. Within the story, one and a half pages of text describe the supernova. Before the story, the Ythrian editor Hloch adds an introduction in his Earth Book Of Stormgate.

The Supernova
The star is " the wilderness between Betelgeuse and Rigel." (p. 211) Why a "wilderness"? Later in the History of Technic Civilization, that would mean that the star was in the space between the Terran Empire and the Roidhunate of Merseia. However, neither of those empires exists as yet. At any rate, this is a mostly unknown volume of space. A ship of the Grand Survey did pass through, noting the existence both of the star in question and of a nearby star with an inhabited planet. The star in question is older than others in the region and must have come from elsewhere. Coincidentally, a Polesotechnic League scout ship passes nearby when the star goes supernova:

thermonuclear reactions had burned up the hydrogen at the center;
the outer layers collapsed;
atomic fusion of transuranic elements and of technetium began;
neutrons and neutrinos carried away the last balancing energy;
the star exploded, briefly becoming as radiant as the entire galaxy.

The omniscient narrator states that:

"This was the first chance in our history to observe a new supernova." (p. 212)

This narrator is not Hloch who wrote on Avalon shortly after the Terran War. The word "...our..." implies a much later perspective like that of the Galactic Archaeological Society.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    We also see an interesting description by Poul Anderson of another fictional but very plausible supernova at the beginning of MIRKHEIM.