Thursday, 16 March 2017

Educated Deduction

(Page viewers might notice an anomaly about this image.)

Every newly discovered rational species must be unique. On the other hand, immortal space travelers encountering many such species might learn to generalize. Yo Rorn knows that:

"'...given a generally human-type instinct pattern, a technological-geographical situation like this one makes for individualism.'"
-Poul Anderson, World Without Stars (New York, 1966), Chapter X, p. 65.

Argens agrees because:

"Tyranny gets unstable when a cheap boat can pace a warship and there's a wilderness for dissatisfied people to vanish into.'" (ibid.)

Yet the few Niao in a fishing boat that accidentally found the shipwrecked Earthmen did not take responsibility for dealing with them. Instead, they immediately reported back to a higher authority. Therefore:

"...the Niao must like being subservient." (ibid.)

It takes time before a delegation arrives. Therefore, the delegation had to be organized and authorized from a distance. This could have been done quickly with telepathy, which the Niao have. Therefore, the masters must have taken time to discuss and prepare. Also, they had preserved an alien language for a long time and transmitted it across a long distance. Yorn deduces that:

"'...we're on the marches of a very big and very old empire.'" (p. 66)

Yet all that he has seen so far is a delegation in a single galley.


  1. Paul:
    I think I made this comment before, but I read somewhere, long ago, that the TITLE of a work can't be copyrighted — at least, if it's a relatively simple title that doesn't function as a synopsis the way "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" does. So *Valerian: Spatiotemporal Agent* isn't in violation of copyright law so long as it simply uses "World Without Stars" as the issue's title but doesn't plagiarize the plot.

  2. David,
    And there were two series called I, ROBOT. I also found another GUARDIANS OF TIME.

    1. Kaor, DAVID and Paul!

      And I recall seeing another book later than Poul Anderson's A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS with that very same title. But I don't recall that writer's name.

      While it seems a book TITLE cannot be copyrighted, it
      would seem good manners for an author to not use a title another writer had used first. Also, I would think such a writer would not want his book to be confused with works written by a different author.

      I think it is logical to think the Niao of WORLD WITHOUT STARS "like" to be subservient. The Ai Chun who had bred their race could have made them genetically prone to believing that was the RIGHT thing to do. The mere fact that members of their race who were dissatisfied enough to move into the wild and became the Packs indicates this "conditioning" was not absolute.

      Another thought I had was that the Niao reminded me of the Homo servus species we see in Stirling's DRAKON. Humans deliberately bred to be natural slaves.


  3. Paul and Sean:
    A part of the question with titles has to be how specific the title was to the details of the story. *World Without Stars* could have several differing reasons why a particular world had no stars ... including a merely poetic/figurative reference, the starlessness being not literal but, for instance, in the souls of intensely depressed people. Also, a documentary movie about Jacques Cousteau's underwater explorations was titled *World Without Sun*.

    Of course, a line of poetry such as "a knight of ghosts and shadows" belongs to no one but the writer of the poem. And it's good manners to not use someone else's title IF you KNOW that someone else has used it. An author who didn't follow science fiction and had never heard of PA might feel "a knight of ghosts and shadows" perfectly captured the feel of his new suspense thriller....

  4. Kaor, DAVID!

    Of course I agree that "World Without Stars" can have many different meanings and contexts. No argument there.

    Yes, lines from an anonymous ballad from which PA took "A knight of ghosts and shadows" can belong to no one because we don't know who composed that poem. But I'm almost sure that whoever wrote the second A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS book wrote SF or F and therefore SHOULD have known Anderson had used that title first. If so, he or she was guilty of bad manners. I will check when I have more time.


    1. Kaor, David!

      I found out who wrote KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS (note the absence of "A"). The authors of this book pub. in 1990 were Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon. Even allowing for the absence of "A" from their book title, it still comes to close to resembling Anderson's title for me to be happy with that. It still seems to skirt on the fringes of showing bad literary manners by Lackey and Guon.