Saturday, 26 October 2013


Poul Anderson invents a genuinely non-humanoid alien, Smokesmith, in "The Pirate":

small barrel-shaped body;
four legs;
clawed feet;
four tentacles as arms;
three boneless fingers at the end of each arm;
blue petals for a head;
patterns on the petals for sense organs;
an art form of sounds and odors;
ability to calculate an orbit without needing to consult a computer;
time spent waving arms and "'...mak[ing] my alternate life.'" (Starship, New York, 1982, p. 224)

Smokesmith says that human language lacks "'...the necessary concepts...'" (ibid.) to describe this alternate life but it sounds to me as if he has a vivid creative imagination, thus an internal equivalent of a TV or computer screen.

Of an entrepreneur investigated by Smokesmith and his colleague in the Coordination Service, Smokesmith says:

"'Our information about his world line is fragmentary, and zero about its future segment.'" (p. 220)

Does this imply that Smokesmith sometimes does have information about other people's futures?

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