Thursday, 14 January 2016


"This is revolution, he thought. You don't know what's happened, you don't know who's fighting or where the fighting is, you sit and wait and listen to the people going they don't know where."
-Poul Anderson, Cold Victory (New York, 1958), pp. 88-89.

That is one side of revolution. The other side is people who do know that they are fighting and where they are going, whether a clique seizing power or a population overthrowing a dictatorship.

"They wound up the levels, feeling their bodies grow heavier..." (p. 94)

Surely, if they are approaching heavier levels, then they should experience this approach as a descent? But I am confused about how centrifugal force works. Earlier:

"An elevator took them up to officer level. Actually, thought a dim corner of Friday's mind, the term should have been 'down,' since they were increasing centrifugal 'gravity'; but the notion of the upper classes living 'upward' was too ingrained for usage to change, even though on any one level 'down' meant the direction of acceleration." (p. 76)

We understand the difference between physical up and down and social up and down. Someone might travel "down" to London because it is in the south of the country or"up" because it is the capital. However, if the elevator is experienced as descending, then it is hard to imagine that it would be thought of as going "up." And the direction of acceleration is "down" within a single level? I do not get that last bit.


  1. Kaor, Paul,

    The further you are from a cylinder's axis of rotation, the stronger the centrifugal force you will feel, and that force will be directed outward. In the rotating starship, down is toward the outer skin of the ship, and up is toward the center. People would feel their bodies becoming heavier as they went physically down toward the outer hull, which in this ship would be socially up to officer country.

    Best Regards,
    Nicholas D. Rosen

  2. Nicholas,
    That is what I thought. Thanks. Do you understand what is said about the direction of acceleration?

    1. Dear Paul,

      Yes, the direction of acceleration here is the direction in which things fall; in the room where I'm standing, the direction of acceleration is toward the floor, and similarly in the starship, although there the acceleration is centrifugal, arising from rotation, rather than gravitational.

      Best Regards,

  3. Nicholas,
    Thank you. I now have a much clearer understanding of the ship.