Sunday, 19 March 2017

Important Planets

Every inhabited planet is important to its inhabitants. In an interstellar civilization, planets interact. Poul Anderson's Ensign Flandry shows us Terra, Starkad and Merseia. Terra and Merseia are rival imperial powers. Starkad will shortly be destroyed but some Starkadian Tigeries and Sea Dwellers will be evacuated to the Patrician System where one Tigery will serve Terra as an Intelligence agent and will help to defeat a pro-Merseian rebellion.

A Circus Of Hells shows us Irumclaw, Wayland and Talwin. Irumclaw is important for the defense of a Terran border against Merseia, Wayland will provide the wealth necessary to maintain Irumclaw and Talwin becomes a joint Terran-Merseian scientific base where secret negotiations can be held.

The Rebel World shows us Terra, Shalmu, Llynathawr, Aeneas and Dido and mentions Ifri:

Dominic Flandry's servant, Chives, is Shalmuan;
Catawrayannis on Llynathawr is the capital city of Sector Alpha Crucis of the Terran Empire;
Aeneas is the base of the McCormac Rebellion;
study of the tripartite Didonians is the reason why there was a scientific base, that became a colony, on Aeneas;
Ifri is Navy sector headquarters.

The Day Of Their Return, set entirely on Aeneas, introduces Aycharaych from Chereion, a planet that was an interstellar power and is now the spearhead of Merseian Intelligence.

So it seems to be impossible to find an unimportant planet.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Yes, but recall how the Empire had at least 100,000 inhabited planets with formalized relations with the Imperium. Most of them, most of the time, simply lived their ordinary lives quietly. The planets you listed were among the minority of worlds that became important, even crucial, for one reason or another.


    1. Sean,
      I would like to read a novel set on one of the quiet planets.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Hmmm, that might make for an interesting change of pace from the drama and excitement we get from "visiting" the important planets! But I don't know if most SF readers would care for such a book set on either a human or non human world. Because it would seem too, well, QUIET!


    3. Sean,
      I enjoy the quiet moments in fiction, when characters have time to reflect.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      Could you list one or two moments of such quiet reflection? Whether or not in one of the works of Poul Anderson or Stirling?

      Do you wish for a science fictional analogy of Jane Austen and her novels set mostly in small English towns? I've tried to read her EMMA but gave up because a novel about the small doings of a small town simply didn't interest me. My loss, I'm sure!


    5. Kaor, Sean!

      A quiet planet that Dominic Flandry never has occasion to visit might still have family squabbles, business disputes, personal adventures in the wilderness, crime in the streets, etc. There could be material for an exciting novel there, even if the Merseians are a hundred light years away. On the other hand, why make it science fiction? Why set a novel on this planet rather than our own Earth? There could be reasons, like showing the interaction of different species among the settlers there: human, Cynthian, Donarran, and others. Poul Anderson might have given such such a tale, but had other interests and priorities, I suppose.

      Best Regards,
      Nicholas D. Rosen

    6. Kaor, Nicholas!

      Thanks for your very interesting comments. I really wish you, David Birr, and others would comment here more often!

      Actually, I agree with you. The lives and events of a people living on a "quiet" planet of the Empire which Dominic Flandry never had reason to visit would necessarily be of engrossing interest to its inhabitants.

      In fact, Poul Anderson did touch on this idea about "quiet" planets in Chapter VIII of WE CLAIM THESE STARS, as Dominic Flandry and Catherine Kittredge, a young woman from the hitherto obscure human colonized planet Vixen became acquainted: "Flandry confirmed his impression that Kit was not an unsophisticated peasant. She didn't know the latest delicious gossip about you-know-who and that actor. But she had measured the seasons of her strange violent planet; she could assemble a machine so men could trust their lives to it; she had hunted and sported, seen birth and death; the intrigues of her small city were as subtle as any around the Imperial throne. Withal, she had the innocence of most frontier folk--or call it optimism, or honor, or courage--at any rate, she had not begun to despair of the human race."

      So, yes, we do see Poul Anderson touching on the ordinary things and deeds of ordinary people's lives on many of his worlds. At least to provide background and context for his stories.

      Best regards! Sean

    7. Sean,
      Of the top of my head, I think that Stirling has several moments when his characters are together, sharing a meal and reflecting on how they came to be where they are.

    8. Kaor, Paul!

      He does! Esp. among the first generation, the survivors of the Change. Because they can't help but compare, from time to time, what they had lost to what they had managed to gain. Some survivors might think what they had gained was better than what they had lost. But, the decent ones among the survivors would agree it came at far too high a cost.