This series is set in the future, over the period from 2055 – 7100. Humans have spread throughout the stars and encountered other sentient beings, so there is now an interstellar civilisation.
In the 22nd Century, a loose government of the human worlds is established called the Solar Commonwealth. During the period in which the Commonwealth exists, in the 23rd Century, the Polesotechnic League is formed: an interstellar league of trading companies, independent of the planetary governments and the Commonwealth.
The main characters of the Polesotechnic League sequence are Nicholas van Rijn and David Falkayn (although interspersed in this sequence are stories without either character). These stories are set in the 25th century.
Nicholas van Rijn is the head of a trading company called the Solar Spice & Liquors Company. He prefers to stay at home on Earth, and send out trader teams, but sometimes finds it necessary to visit other planets in person. He has a quirky way of speaking, using not quite correct English (the language is actually referred to as Anglic at this point in the future), into which he inserts some foreign words, and includes frequent puns and malapropisms.
David Falkayn is a younger son from a noble family on the planet Hermes. He gets expelled from militechnic college for some prank. So he goes to Earth and becomes apprentice to Master Trader Martin Schuster of the Polesotechnic League.
Later (from the story “The Trouble Twisters” onwards), Falkayn becomes an employee of Nicholas van Rijn, and is the leader of a trader team which goes out to little-known planets in search of trade opportunities. The other members of his team are Chee Lan, a small female cat-like being from the planet Cynthia, with silky white fur and a quick temper, and Adzel, a large male dragon-like being from the planet Woden, who despite his appearance is quite peaceful, and has adopted Buddhism. Their spaceship is called Muddlin’ Through, and the ship’s computer is called Muddlehead.
The Polesotechnic League is dissolved in 2550. The Commonwealth collapses in the 27th Century, and a new Terran Empire arises around 2700. (Some stories use the term “Terrestrial Empire” instead.)
The main character of the Terran Empire sequence is Dominic Flandry, an officer in the Terran (Space) Navy Intelligence Corps. These stories are set in the 31st century. (Again, a number of stories occur in this sequence without Dominic Flandry.) This series of stories has very much a military and espionage flavour. Flandry has lots of adventures, often barely escaping with his life. A significant feature of these stories is the romantic relationships he has with various women. (Often these romances end in disappointment for one or other of the parties.) But always he has in mind the protection of the Terran Empire, especially under the threat of the Merseian Roidhunate. And he is attempting to delay the “Long Night”, the eventual collapse of the Empire, and the period of anarchy to follow.
Many of the stories were originally published in magazines – in some cases as serialised novels – and later published in books, either as novels or collections of stories. Recently (2008 – 2011) the whole series has been published in a series of Omnibus books, as the Technic Civilization Saga – see the list at the bottom of the page.
I started with a table based on the internal chronology of the series, using the dates from the “Chronology of Technic Civilization”, compiled by Sandra Miesel, as it appears in several of the books of the series. I have written the reviews against each story within the table.
|Internal chronology||Title, date of publication and description||Collections|
|ca. 2055||The Saturn Game (1981) (short story)
Earth has been setting up colonies on the various planets in the Solar System. The spaceship Chronos has taken eight years to reach Saturn. The occupants have various skills, and generally work on board the ship, but also have to find things to do in their leisure time. Quite a few people have taken up role-playing games (referred to in this story as psychodrama).
Having arrived at Saturn, various teams are sent out, on space boats, to study its moons.
The team sent to the moon Iapetus consists of Colin Scobie, Jean Broberg, Luis Garcilaso and Mark Danzig. Three of these are active fantasy role-playing gamers: Broberg plays the Princess Ricia, imprisoned in the ice castle by the Elf King, Scobie is the brave knight Kendrick, whose mission is to rescue her, and Garcilaso plays the wizard Arvarlan, who has projected his spirit to assist them.
Arriving at Iapetus, the three gamers marvel at the magnificent snow and ice landscape, which matches so closely the fantasy world they are playing in. They spontaneously drop into role-playing. Danzig tries to bring them back to reality, but they ignore him.
Scobie, Broberg and Garcilaso leave the boat to study the moon, with Danzig staying behind. As the three proceed, they continue to be immersed in their role-play. They do not take sufficient care, and get caught in an avalanche.
Scobie and Broberg manage to dig their way out, but when they locate Garcilaso, they find that he is severely injured. Danzig attempts to fly the boat close to their location, but crashes it, and they don’t where it is in relation to them. Besides, it is difficult going, climbing through the icy mountains. The fuel units are running out, and the rescue team from Chronos will take too long to reach them. And Scobie and Broberg have become so addicted to the role-play, that they find themselves continually reverting to their fantasy roles. Will they survive?
|22nd C||The discovery of hyperdrive makes interstellar travel feasible. The Breakup sends humans off to colonise the stars. A loose government called the Solar Commonwealth is established.|
|2150||Wings of Victory (1972) (short story)
The spaceship Olga is one of the ships of the Grand Survey, heading out from Earth, and discovering and surveying stars and planets.
They arrive at a planet and determine as much as they can from orbit. Then a team is sent down in a landing craft, to make contact with the inhabitants. The team consists of two men and one woman: Vaughn Webner, xenologist, and leader of the landing party; Aram Turekian, pilot; and Yukiko Sachansky, gunner. There is some antagonism and rivalry between the two men.
They land near an isolated dwelling, but as they land, a large number of birdlike creatures leave the dwelling and fly away.
The three argue whether the creatures are intelligent beings. Webner insists, on xenological principles, that such creatures could not evolve with intelligence, so they must be domesticated hunting creatures. The others are not so sure. Then two of the creatures return. Webner thinks they are attacking, and fires at one of them, damaging its wing, and the creatures fly off.
The team inspects the dwelling, and the attendant buildings which contain various animals, and wonder when the dwelling’s occupants will return. Then the flying creatures return in large numbers. They are obviously the intelligent species, as they are armed, and have brought all their friends, to attack the intruders. The team barely makes it back to their landing craft alive, and take off.
The information gathered enables the ship’s crew to make proper contact with the planet’s inhabitants. The inhabitants call their planet Ythri; the Ythrians play an important part in the rest of the series.
|HB, EBS, VRM|
|23rd C||Polesotechnic League founded|
|24th C||The Problem of Pain (1973) (short story)
Peter Berg is part of a team on the planet Lucifer, studying it to determine its usefulness. He confides in his colleague (the narrator) something that has been troubling him.
Five years before, Pete had been on an exploratory mission to the planet Gray. The group consisted of both humans and Ythrians. Pete had got to know an Ythrian called Enherrian, and being a Christian, Pete was interested to discover that Enherrian had a similar belief in a God, and they spent time discussing their beliefs.
Pete’s team was sent by boat into a gulf to study one of the floating islands. The team consisted of Pete and his wife Olga, Enherrian, his wife Whell, and their son Rusa and daughter Arrach. However, while still on the water, a storm came up, and after a period of struggling to control the boat, they crashed into a floating island. Arrach was lost in the sea, and so was the boat, so they were stranded on the island until someone from the main group came to rescue them. After a few days, Olga became sick, and after a period of suffering and distress, she died. When the team were eventually rescued, it was discovered that Olga’s sickness had been caused by a plant which gave off vapours which were poisonous to humans.
Since then, Pete had been troubled by the problem of pain – why did God allow suffering to occur? He had consulted priests of his religion, who said it was a mystery. But Pete found that Enherrian, and the Ythrians of his faith, had a different attitude to the question. Originally being a hunter species, they saw God as the great Hunter, who came after them when it was time to die, and they honoured God by facing death with pride and struggling against it. Pete wondered it there might be something in that attitude.
|Nicholas van Rijn and David Falkayn stories|
|2416||Margin of Profit (1956) (short story) [van Rijn]
Captain Torres, Lodgemaster in the Federated Brotherhood of Spacefarers (effectively the trade union of spaceship crew) announces to Nicholas van Rijn that the Brotherhood has put a ban on flying ships through the area of space claimed by the realm of Borthu. The Borthudians have captured some of the League’s ships and brainwashed and enslaved the crew.
Van Rijn discusses this with his fellow merchants. If they don’t fly through Borthudian territory, this cuts off the passage to their customers in the Antares region. Flying around the territory is too expensive. The League cannot afford the additional security measures to defend against the attacks, and they are not equipped for military action against Borthu. The Commonwealth authorities won’t help – some elements within the administration already think the League is too big for its boots, and are saying that the League have brought such attacks on themselves by violating the territory of a sovereign power.
Van Rijn hits on a plan. It will be risky, and involves van Rijn himself captaining a ship flying into Borthudian territory, with Torres and two other captains as his crew, and deliberately inviting an attack.
|2416||How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson (1974) (short story)
Jimmy Ching is trying to study for preliminary tests, which will determine whether he can apply for entrance to the Space Academy. His principal counselor rings and urges him to organise a contribution for San Francisco’s Chinese community in the upcoming Festival of Man. Although he has little time to spare from studying, because his counselor’s word could affect his entrance to the Academy, he reluctantly agrees. But Jimmy does not particularly identify with his Chinese heritage, and doesn’t know what to do.
The Festival of Man will be a year-long celebration intended to promote human cultures, in a world where humans are dispersing into space, and beings from other planets are coming to Earth.
Jimmy goes and visits his girlfriend, Betty Riefenstahl. She also has a problem. Her father is conductor of the San Francisco Opera, and has reintroduced live performances in place of holographic ones. Betty has been working long hours with her father to research and select possible historical operas for the Festival of Man. But they don’t know whether his board of directors will accept his selections, and if he is not successful, his contract might not be renewed.
Jimmy and Betty go to visit their friend Adzel, a large dragon-like being from the planet Woden (and future member of David Falkayn’s crew), who is on Earth on a League scholarship to study planetology. After some discussion they come up with two brilliant ideas – Adzel will play the part of a Chinese dragon in a Lunar New Year parade, and he will also sing the part of the dragon Fafner in performances, by the San Francisco Opera, of Wagner’s Siegfried.
|2423||The Three-Cornered Wheel (1966) (short story) [Falkayn]
David Falkayn is on the planet Ivanhoe (which has a non-human population), with his boss Martin Schuster and two other crew members of the spaceship What Cheer. The ship’s nuclear generator had been damaged in space, so they had headed for the planet because it had an unmanned League emergency depot. As seemed good manners, they had landed at the capital Aesca of the country Larsum where the depot was located. However the depot is hundreds of kilometres from the capital, and Falkayn had been sent on fastiga-back (the fastiga being the local equivalent of a horse) to the depot which is on the land of Rebo, the Marchwarden of Gilrigor.
Falkayn’s job had been to organise with Rebo the transport of a replacement nuclear generator (weighing a couple of tons) on wagons drawn by fastigas. But he discovers that the circle is considered sacred by the people of Larsum (who are governed by the Consecrates, an elite priestly/scientist class), and wheels are forbidden. There is no other feasible way of transporting such a heavy piece of equipment such a long distance over rough roads, before the crew’s food supplies run out, and the local food is poisonous to them. The ship has no power left to travel to the depot. Disappointed, Falkayn sets off back towards the ship.
Meanwhile, Schuster is providing lectures on scientific principles to a group of young Consecrates at the Sanctuary in Aesca. He discovers that their calculations of the motions of the planets assumes circular orbits (the circle being sacred), although these have had to be modified to include epi-circles and epi-epi-circles. He introduces the idea (describing it as a mathematical fiction), that the calculations are simpler if ellipses are used.
The chief Consecrate, becoming alarmed at the new ideas being introduced by the visitors, sends an assassination squad to kill Falkayn. Encountering the squad on the road, Falkayn rides for his life back to Rebo’s castle. But as he’s fighting for his life, the solution comes to him on how the nuclear generator can be transported.
|2420’s||A Sun Invisible (1966) (novelette) [Falkayn]
David Falkayn is now a journeyman, based at a League outpost on Garstang’s Planet. He receives a message to go to the planet Vanessa. Vanessa is inhabited by beings of an ancient species called Kaoka. Their species live on several planets. Vanessa is now being invaded by a space fleet of the same species, although they do not come from any of the known Kaokan planets. Part of their force consists of humans. The invaders insist that the League leave the region. But they intend to keep their home solar system (which they call Antoran) secret, so the League cannot gain advantage by threatening their home worlds.
Falkayn has been called to Vanessa by the planet’s League representative, Beljagor, a non-human from the planet Jaleel. Beljagor considers that the negotiations are best done between members of the same species – and it is a human, Commander Horn, who wishes to interview Falkayn on behalf of the invaders.
Falkayn is surprised to discover that Commander Horn is actually a beautiful young woman – Jutte Horn. But he takes the opportunity to have dinner with her and ply her with wine, creating a romantic atmosphere. He encourages her to talk about her home world, hoping to get clues to its location.
After Jutte leaves, he spends hours trying to piece together the clues. He finally concludes that Jutte’s home system is that of Beta Centauri. Beta Centauri is a star which no one would have expected to have planets, but could have captured a cluster of rogue planets, which the Kaoka, with their skills in planetary engineering, could have made habitable.
But Falkayn needs to be sure, before informing HQ, which means he needs to go there, in his small fast spacecraft. But it will be risky. The Antoranites will want to keep the location secret, and he could be captured or killed.
|2420’s||The Season of Forgiveness (1973) (short story) [set on same planet as “The Three-Cornered Wheel”]
A valuable plant called adir has been found in the deserts of the planet Ivanhoe, the same planet as in the story “The Three-Cornered Wheel”, but a different continent. This plant secretes a substance useful in various organic syntheses.
Thomas Overbeck and his trader team are on the planet organising a trade deal with the local inhabitants, and to establish a permanent trading settlement. A deal has been concluded with nomadic desert people, who have the land rights to the locations where adir grows. However, the leaders of the city Dahia (the former capital of an empire) are now insisting on a share of the profits, and are making threats against the nomads.
Christmas time is approaching, and Juan Hernandez, one of the trader team, believes that it is important that they celebrate. Overbeck reluctantly agrees, when Juan points out that the ship with the permanent human settlers will be arriving soon, and they will have their children with them.
Juan takes his flitter out to the desert to gather crystals for the Christmas tree. However, as evening draws in, he finds himself surrounded by hostile nomads, who wish to hold him hostage. He manages to escape by firing his blaster into the air, temporarily blinding his attackers, and makes it back to his craft. However, the fact that he had not fired on the nomads (which he did not want to do because it was “the season of forgiveness”) reveals to the Idahoans that the humans are not just interested in profit, but also have a belief in the sacred, similar to the nomads’ belief in the freedom of the desert, and the Dahians’ dream of empire. The nomads agree to allow the humans to mediate between them and the city leaders.
|2420’s||The Man Who Counts (1978) as War of the Wing-Men (1958) from The Man Who Counts (1958) (novel) [van Rijn]
Van Rijn has arrived on the planet Diomedes, and is showing the sights to his guest, Sandra Tamarin, heir to the throne of the planet Hermes. On a trip by skycruiser (an aircraft) to a far part of Diomedes, a bomb explodes in their craft, which crashes into the sea. The only survivors are Sandra, van Rijn, and his engineer, Eric Wace. They are rescued by a tribe of Diomedans called the Drak’ho.
The Drak’ho, also referred to as the Fleet, live on large rafts on the sea, and obtain food by fishing. Like all Diomedans, they have wings and can fly. They are currently at war with another tribe, the Lannachska, also referred to as the Flock.
The humans have brought their own food supply, since all food of Diomedes is poisonous to them. However it will run out soon, so they need to get back to their base. And the Drak’ho are not interested in flying them back.
Van Rijn decides they will be better off with the Lannachska, and manages to free a Lannachskan prisoner, who organises a rescue of the humans by his people.
The Lannachska, like most Diomedans, are migratory beings, who fly to the tropics for the winter, and return to give birth. This time they found their land invaded by the Drak’ho, as the Drak’ho followed the fish supply.
The three humans work with the Lannachska, helping them develop weapons, and fighting techniques, converting a mill to mass production of weapons. (Wace, doing much of the heavy work, becomes resentful of van Rijn, who is doing the thinking and organising, and getting all the praise. And Wace wonders why Sandra admires van Rijn.) Will this effort be enough to defeat the Drak’ho? And will the humans get back to base before they starve?
|2420’s||Esau (as Birthright (1970)) (novelette) [van Rijn]
Emil Dalmady, an employee of Solar Spice & Liquors, has been removed from his position and ordered to report to Headquarters on Earth, without being given a reason, or getting a chance to explain his position. He finally gets an interview with van Rijn, who invites him to tell his story.
Dalmady had been the company’s Factor on the planet Suleiman. A plant called bluejack had been found, which could be used as a spice and tonic, but only by hydrogen-breathers like the inhabitants of Suleiman. The company had found a few worlds where they could sell the product, but they were barely making a profit on it. Dalmady’s trading base relied on native nomads harvesting the bluejack and selling it to the company. There were also some researchers at the trading base, researching the planet and its people. Their work was only feasible as long as the trading base remained.
To Dalmady’s dismay, he learned that some beings from another planet had arrived and were setting up an automated system to harvest the bluejack. When he confronted them, they stated that they were from the planet Babur (one of Solar Spice & Liquors’ markets for the bluejack), they were an associate member of the Polesotechnic League, and were quite within the laws of the League to set up a competing operation. Furthermore, the harvesting system consisted of a central computer and robot harvesters quite capable of defending themselves and retaliating if they were attacked or approached. The Baburites then departed from the planet, leaving their system to do the harvesting.
Dalmady and his team discovered that indeed the robot harvesters could defend themselves. With practically all the bluejack in the area covered by the Baburite automated system, it seemed that the Solar Spice and Liquors’ operation on Suleiman was no longer cost-effective, and would have to close down. However, Dalmady was reluctant to give up: it would spoil his chances for advancement in the company, the researchers were upset at the thought of discontinuing their work, and the natives preferred to remain with the old arrangement. Then Dalmady remembered an old legend, which gave him the solution.
The old legend referred to (given the clue of the story’s title) is that of Jacob and Esau from the Bible, where Jacob, the younger twin brother, first gets Esau to sell him his birthright (Genesis chapter 25, verses 29-34) and later cheats him of their father’s blessing (Genesis chapter 27). Despite the story’s earlier title, “Birthright”, the allusion is actually to the method Jacob used to steal the blessing.
|2420’s||Hiding Place (1961) (short story) [van Rijn]
The spaceship, the Hebe G. B., with its owner Nicholas van Rijn on board, is on the run from the outlaws called the Adderkops, and its engine has been damaged. They won’t make it to Freya, the nearest known planet, so they hunt for the energy signature of another ship. And find one.
Boarding the ship they find no sign of the crew. The ship is transporting several unfamiliar life forms – apparently animals – each species with its own habitat, with the appropriate atmosphere, temperature, artificial gravity and food supply. The ship’s artificial gravity has been turned off, the atmosphere evacuated, and all clues to the nature of the crew destroyed. It appears that the crew (being afraid that van Rijn’s crew are just like the Adderkops) have confined themselves in one of the spare animal habitats. The navigation controls are unfamiliar, and are locked on to a distant destination. It will take too long to learn to use them, and the Adderkops will likely find them before too long.
How can they work out which creatures are the crew, and make them take van Rijn and his crew to safety?
|TS, BPA, VRM|
|2430’s||Territory (1963) (short story) [van Rijn]
A small group of human scientists from the planet Esperance has set up a base on the planet t’Kela, to investigate correcting the planet’s ecology. The local inhabitants are non-humans, who have a tribal hunting society. Nicholas van Rijn has joined the Esperancian base, to investigate trade possibilities.
Without warning, a native tribe attacks the base, and the Esperancians flee in the only two spaceships. One Esperancian woman, Joyce Davisson, and van Rijn, are left behind. Their only chance is to flee the base in a groundcar, with a loyal native assistant, and seek refuge with one of the friendly tribes.
However van Rijn realises that when his people come looking for him, they will expect him to be at the base, or they will assume he had been killed. He needs to do some clever persuasion of the several native tribes, and for that he needs to understand their psychology.
|2430’s||The Trouble Twisters (as Trader Team (1965)) (novella) [Falkayn]
David Falkayn and his team are on the planet Ikrananka, attempting to negotiate a trade deal with Emperor Jadhadi of the city Katandara. They had landed their ship some distance away, at the trading centre Haijakata, and were learning the local customs from a teacher called Gujgengi, sent by the Emperor. However it is starting to look as if the Emperor is delaying the negotiations.
Then they rescue a human woman, Stepha Carls, from a group of Ikranankans who are pursuing her. To their surprise, they discover that there is a human community on the planet, who were stranded on the planet by pirates seventy-five years before. The humans have integrated into the Ikranankan society, forming a caste of soldiers who serve the Emperor.
It now turns out that the Emperor had sent a troop of humans, under High Guardsman, Bobert Thorn, to capture the city Rangakora. However, Thorn and his soldiers have taken possession of the city for themselves. As a consequence, the Emperor is suspicious of all humans, even those still in the barracks at Katandara.
Falkayn takes a flitter to Katandara to meet the Emperor, taking Adzel with him, and also Stepha, to return her to her barracks. However before he realises what has happened he is kidnapped by humans, including Stepha, loyal to Bobert Thorn, and taken on animal-back across country to Rangakora. Meanwhile Adzel escapes being captured by the Emperor’s Ikranankan soldiers, and sets off on foot back to the ship. However, Chee Lan is arrested by Gujgengi at Haijakata. All three have lost or had their communicators destroyed, so can’t contact the ship, which in any case is guarded by the Emperor’s Ikranankan soldiers.
And Falkayn thinks: Even if they all survive, if they lose the trade deal, he is likely to be confined to a desk job in future.
|2430’s||Day of Burning (as Supernova (1967)) (novella) [Falkayn]
A star has gone supernova, and the scientists of the Technic Civilization want a suitable inhabited planet at a suitable distance to observe it. Merseia is such a planet, whose inhabitants have a lower level of technology than the Technic Civilization, but have space travel and colonies on nearby planets.
David Falkayn and his team have been given the job of negotiating with the local inhabitants, to allow the scientists to set up on the planet. The Polesotechnic League will provide protection against the radiation coming from the supernova (due to arrive in less than three years), which the Merseians will pay for of course, but in the process their technological level will increase.
Merseia is divided into nations, and Falkayn’s dealings are with the leader of one of the major nations. However, Falkayn is invited to send a team member to a secret meeting with representatives of other nations, who are afraid they will be left out of the deal. Falkayn sends Chee Lan along. But on her return, she is kidnapped, most likely by a criminal organisation called the Gethfennu.
Chee Lan could be anywhere on the several worlds of the Merseian civilisation. Falkayn’s only chance is to persuade the Merseian authorities to use their resources to search for her, and they are not too keen.
|BB, MWPA, EBS, DF|
|2430’s||The Master Key (1964) (short story) [van Rijn]
Nicholas van Rijn has invited a small group of people to his penthouse to discuss a recent ill-fated trade mission. Present are Per Stenvik, captain of the expedition, recovering from his injuries, and Manuel, one of his team.
Per had been leader of a group of 20 men sent to set up a trading post on the planet Cain. There were two intelligent species, the Yildivans, who were the dominant species, and the Lugans, who served as a slave race to the Yildivans. The Yildivans lived as family groups somewhat isolated from each other, but with large numbers of Lugans in their households.
Per was spending time getting to know the natives, in particular a Yildivan called Shivaru. He and Shivaru would discuss each other’s lives and cultures at length, and seemed to be getting on well. But then Per mentioned the concept of God, and the Yildivans withdrew, and began to act coldly toward them. Soon after the Cainites (both Yildivans and Lugans) attacked, killing three of the men, and kidnapping another three. Per was injured, but Manuel and others managed to give chase and rescue the kidnapped men.
Now, van Rijn’s group are trying to figure out what had gone wrong, and whether there is any hope for future trade with the planet.
|2430’s||Satan’s World (1968) (novel) [van Rijn and Falkayn]
David Falkayn goes to an organisation called Serendipity on Luna (the Moon) to investigate possibilities of profit. Serendity has a sophisticated set of computers, and collects information from all sources, and uses complex correlation algorithms. It is run by a group of human partners, who are somewhat asocial, and whose origin is mysterious.
The computer provides Falkayn with the location of a rogue planet, whose course will take it in a loop around the star Beta Crucis before heading back into space. It is a source of rare and valuable minerals, and is also a suitable site for transmutation of elements on a large scale.
The Serendipity partners invite Falkayn to their home – a castle in the Lunar Alps. However, this is a trap – they detain and drug him. Apparently they have non-human masters on a planet far out in space, and are reporting the find to them.
Chee Lan and Adzel become worried about Falkayn when he doesn’t report, and on Nicholas van Rijn’s advice, raid the castle and rescue Falkayn. Chee Lan and Falkayn head off in their spaceship to the rogue planet.
As the rogue planet approaches the star, its covering of ice is melting, the weather is wild, and there are earthquakes. Falkayn names the planet, Satan. But then they are attacked by a fleet of ships belonging to the masters of the Serendipity partners. These are an aggressive species called the Shenn, resembling Minotaurs, who intend to take possession of the rogue planet.
Meanwhile, van Rijn has negotiated with the Serendity partners, and they have agreed to a meeting between van Rijn and their masters at a point out in space. However, when van Rijn and Adzel get there, the Shenn capture them and take them to their home planet.
Will van Rijn and David Falkayn and his team get out of this?
|2430’s||A Little Knowledge (1971) (short story)
The Polesotechnic League has a ban on selling spaceships, or the technology to build them, to worlds that do not have them. There have been cases in the past where aggressive worlds have been given spaceships and have turned to piracy. So developing worlds have to develop their own space technology.
Trillia is a world which did not have space technology when encountered by people from the Technic civilization, but rapidly developed it, although their spaceships are primitive and clumsy.
On the planet Trillia, three human men force a Trillian, Witweet, at gunpoint, to take them out into space in his spaceship. They want to take the ship to a militant developing world, where, because of the ship’s primitive nature, it can copied, and the world can build up a fleet. The men expect to get a lot of money from this.
Is there anything Witweet can do to prevent this?
|EBS, GL, DF|
|2446||Lodestar (1973) (short story) [van Rijn and Falkayn]
Some years previously, a company called Supermetals appeared on the scene, selling supermetals –stable elements with atomic numbers in the range 114 – 122, valuable elements which no one else had been able to produce in significant quantities. And no one else had been able to discover where Supermetals was getting them from.
Nicholas van Rijn had got his 25-year old granddaughter, Coya Conyon, to do some research, using the computers of the Luna Astrocenter, and she had discovered a possible source – a dead star which had previously been a supernova, with a companion planet which had been a subjovian before the star had gone supernova. At the time the star blew up, the planet could have captured the heavy elements thrown out by the star. However, Coya also found indications that a similar search had previously been done by David Falkayn.
Van Rijn and Coya are now approaching the possible location of this star and planet in a ship crewed by the bird-like Ythrians. It is a secret and dangerous mission, as the Supermetals people are likely to fight to keep their source secret. But Coya dare not tell her grandfather her suspicions, that David Falkayn may be behind the Supermetals enterprise, especially since she is in love with David.
|2456||Mirkheim (1977) (novel) [van Rijn and Falkayn]
The supermetals planet, called Mirkheim, discovered in “Lodestar”, had indeed had a mining industry established by David Falkayn and his team. Recognising that the Polesotechnic League did not favour the poor and backward worlds, they had set up the Supermetals Company, with inhabitants of such worlds, to mine Mirkheim. Van Rijn had felt betrayed to discover that Falkayn had kept this from him, but agreed to keep the secret.
But now Mirkheim has been discovered by someone else, and the secret is out.
The planet Babur (previously mentioned in “Esau”), declares that Mirkheim belongs to them, because it is in their “sphere of interest” – a concept which no one else recognizes. It appears likely that there will be a war between the Commonwealth and Babur, but the League is deadlocked about their involvement.
The Muddlin’ Through crew had split up some years before, and David Falkayn had married Coya Conyon. They now have a daughter, and a second child is on the way. Van Rijn asks the old crew to rejoin, and go and negotiate with Babur.
Falkayn and his crew arrive at Babur, but are promptly imprisoned. However they break free and head off to Mirkheim. But in the process they had discovered that the Baburites have a large (space) navy, and a large mercenary force of humans and other oxygen-breathers. (Baburites themselves are hydrogen-breathers.) The Baburites have obviously had help building up their technology.
In the meantime, Nadi, a Wodenite from the Supermetals Company on Mirkheim approaches Sandra Tamarin-Asmundsen on the planet Hermes, and requests that Hermes take charge of Mirkheim. (Sandra previously appeared in “The Man Who Counts”. In the aftermath of that story she had had a relationship with van Rijn, and given birth to their son, Eric. However, to Sandra’s disappointment, the relationship did not lead to marriage. Later Sandra had become the Grand Duchess (the ruler) of Hermes.) Sandra agrees to Nadi’s request and sets off with a naval force for Mirkheim. But the Baburite and Commonwealth forces have already gathered in the vicinity, prepared to battle. So Sandra evacuates the Mirkheim inhabitants, removing some of the mining equipment to make things difficult for the Baburites, and returns to Hermes.
Falkayn’s crew arrive near Mirkheim with the battle between Babur and Commonwealth in progress. Falkayn examines one of the destroyed Baburite ships to try to find out who has been helping them and what their motivation is. They return to Earth to report to van Rijn.
The Baburite force then threaten to occupy Hermes. Realising that they cannot defeat the Baburites, the Hermetian navy, joined by Sandra’s son Eric, and with Sandra’s tacit agreement, flee to Earth. But the flagship is destroyed by the Baburites. Admiral Michael Falkayn (David’s brother) had been on board.
Sandra stays behind on Hermes to mitigate the demands of the occupying force. The Baburites place a High Commissioner on Hermes, Benoni Strang – a disillusioned Hermetian from the Traver (working) class.
On Earth, Eric meets with his biological father, Nicholas van Rijn, and David Falkayn and his crew. Hearing that his brother is dead, Falkayn realises he is now head of the Falkayn domain on Hermes, and has responsibilities to that planet. The crew fly to Hermes, and land in secret.
Falkayn secretly visits Sandra, and discovers something about Benoni Strang. He must get the information back to van Rijn. Sandra proposes a way. Strang is quite happy for Sandra and her family to leave the planet – it will appear as if she is abandoning it, and will leave the field open for him to become dictator. So Sandra leaves with her family, with Falkayn disguised as one of the crew.
And back on Earth, van Rijn and Falkayn come up with a strategy which may defeat the Baburites.
This story is magnificent, with links back to a number of stories, and brings the stories of Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn and his team to a close.
|Late 25th C||Falkayn founds a joint human-Ythrian colony on Avalon ruled by the Domain of Ythri. [Same planet – renamed – as “The Problem of Pain.”]|
|26th C||Wingless (aka Wingless on Avalon) (1973) (short story) [Falkayn’s grandson]
Avalon is a planet occupied by both humans and Ythrians – an attempt at harmony between the two species. To begin with, the two species occupy separate islands, but now they are beginning to live in joint settlements.
Nat Falkayn, grandson of David Falkayn, is twelve years old. He meets up with two Ythrian youngsters, and goes with them on one of their adventures. However in contrast to the elegance of their flying, his flight using a gravbelt seems clumsy, and he feels humiliated. However when an accident befalls one of his companions, he realises that there are some things he can do which they cannot.
|26th C||Rescue on Avalon (1973) (short story)
Jack Birnam, a seventeen-year-old young man, is hiking in the Andromeda Range on Avalon. A hurricane arises, so he sets up his shelter, and waits for the hurricane to die down.
After it does, he receives a radio transmission. An Ythrian, Ayan, the Wyvan (Chief or President) of the Stormgate choth (clan or tribe) had been flying over the mountains, but had not reported in. But because of the destruction caused by the hurricane, no one else is available to come and search.
Jack feels resentful towards the Stormgate choth, because they have been granted the mountainous area that he loves. Once they move in, he won’t be able to visit the area, because he is allergic to Ythrians. (The allergy can be treated off-planet, but his family can’t afford it.) However, he agrees to search.
He had seen an Ythrian flying over earlier, and heads for a valley he calls the Peace Deep. He finds Ayan, lying injured. Jack can’t radio back for help, because there is too much ironleaf growing nearby, which absorbs radio waves. So Jack has to do what he can to help Ayan, while suffering the effects of his allergies.
But finally when they are rescued, Ayan is so grateful, he promises that Jack can visit the mountains any time he likes, and the Stormgate choth will pay for his allergy treatment.
|2550||Dissolution of Polesotechnic League|
|27th C||The Time of Troubles brings down the Commonwealth.|
|ca. 2700||The Star Plunderer (1952) (short story)
The Commonwealth is collapsing. Alien barbarians have taken over the outer planets of the Solar System, and are making raids on the inner planets.
John Reeves, and his fiancee, Kathryn O’Donnell, members of the Commonwealth Navy, are on Earth, fighting off the Gorzuni raiders. But they are defeated, and taken with many others, on board a slave ship, whose destination is the Gorzuni homeworld.
There is a human engineer on board, Manuel Argos, who has a degree of freedom, as his work includes repairs to the ship. He recruits John and Kathryn as his assistants. But Manuel has a grandiose plan – he is waiting for the opportunity to defeat the Gorzuni, take over the ship, attack the Gorzuni homeworld, and establish a new Terran Empire.
Proclamation of Terran Empire
|28th C||Sargasso of Lost Starships (1952) (short story)
The Terran Empire has taken over the planet Ansa. Basil Donovan had been one of the nobility of that world, and had fought against the Imperial forces, but was defeated. Along with all other members of the upper class, he has been removed from his position. And he resents this.
The Imperial Commander, Helena Jansky, calls Donovan before her to tell her about the Black Nebula, which is in a nearby area of space, as Donovan has been there before. Jansky wants to take an expedition there, and wants Donovan on board as a guide.
The Black Nebula is a place which causes fear to everyone. On Donovan’s previous expedition, the crew had heard voices, seen ghosts, equipment had malfunctioned, and a lot of the crew had died or gone mad.
But Donovan agrees to go with the Imperials, taking his Donarrian slave Wocha, a centauroid being like a cross between a rhinoceros and an ape.
As they travel through the Black Nebula, the crew experience the same things as Donovan’s previous expedition. Then a force takes control of the ship, and it crashlands on a planet called Arzun, with half the crew being killed.
The inhabitants are human in appearance, but are actually alien, with strange psychic abilities. The crew find themselves in hand-to-hand combat with the Arzunians, with primitive weapons.
But Donovan had been there before. He had admired the godlike Arzunians, and fallen in love with the Arzunian woman, Valduma. And now he meets her again, and finds her as enticing as before. He has trouble deciding whose side he should be on.
|29th C||The People of the Wind (1973) (novel)
Many humans on Avalon are joining the Ythrian choths, and adopting their ways. One such person is the young man, Chris Holm, who has joined the Stormgate choth, much to the dismay of his father, Daniel Holm, who feels that Chris has abandoned his own family. Chris, who has taken the Ythrian name, Arinnian, admires the Ythrian way of life, and feels that human society is distasteful by comparison. His closest friend is the Ythrian female, Eyath.
But war is coming to Avalon. The Terran Empire has decided to take over the Domain of Ythri, starting with the Lauran solar system – Laura being Avalon’s sun.
Arinnian, appointed as one of the planet’s home guard, meets up with Tabitha Falkayn (descendant of David Falkayn), who is also in the home guard, and is a member of the Highsky choth. Tabitha has a more relaxed attitude to the relationships between humans and Ythrians.
Daniel Holm is Second Marchwarden, in charge of the planetary defence.
The Imperial forces attack, but Daniel Holm has prepared for this. The Imperial forces take more losses than expected, and fail to capture the planet. The Imperial Admiral asks for Avalon’s surrender, but Avalon refuses. So, the Imperial forces station forces around Avalon, and continue with their conquest of the rest of the Domain.
Philippe Rochefort, one of the Imperial officers, crashlands on Avalon, and is rescued by Tabitha. The two of them become lovers. This upsets Arinnian, who has fallen in love with Tabitha.
Having conquered all of the rest of the Domain, the Imperial forces establish an armistice with the planet Ythri, and return to attack Avalon again. But Daniel Holm has some further tricks up his sleeve, which he shares with Arinnian and Tabitha.
|29th C||The Earth Book of Stormgate (1978) (collection)
This book is presented as if written by the Ythrian, Hloch, on Avalon, and containing stories which he has collected from various sources. It contains all the stories I have indicated with “EBS”, with introductions by Hloch, indicating why these stories are important to the Ythrians of Avalon.
|Dominic Flandry stories|
|3019||Ensign Flandry (1966) (from shorter version 1966) (novel) [Flandry]
The Merseian Empire (referred to as the Roidhunate, the ruler having the title of Roidhun) has undergone a great expansion into space, and is now a rival to the Terran Empire. (The Merseians previously appeared in “Day of Burning”.) Although not officially at war, the two empires find themselves in conflict in the border areas of their territories. Merseia desires to continue expanding its territory; the Terran Empire, having lost the expansionist drive of earlier years, just tries to counter Merseia’s expansion, and keep it in check.
On the planet Starkad, the Merseians are supporting the sea-dwelling Seatrolls, and providing them with weapons, so in response, the Terrans are supporting the land-dwelling Tigeries. The Tigeries and the Seatrolls have been in conflict throughout their history, in particular because the Tigeries want to fish in areas which the Seatrolls consider their territory. However, now there seems to be an arms race on the planet, escalating due to the support of the two space powers.
Dominic Flandry, an ensign in the Terran (Space) Navy is based on the planet Starkad. He achieves some notoriety after his flitter is shot down by the Merseians, when he is rescued by a ship captained by the female Tigery, Dragoika, and helps them fight off an attack by the Seatrolls. And later, he helps defeat an attack on the seaport by a Merseian submarine – technically off-duty mercenaries assisting their Seatroll allies. After this he joins a group conducting peace talks with the Seatrolls, and admires their underwater cities.
Lord Markus Hauksberg, a nobleman from Earth, and representative of the Emperor, arrives on Starkad to help with the peace negotiations. He decides that these are best conducted on the planet Merseia itself, and takes with him Commander Max Abrams, Imperial Naval Intelligence Corps, who has been based on Starkad, to act as his advisor. Abrams has been impressed with Flandry, and has Flandry assigned to him as an aide, so Flandry goes along too. (And Flandry gains a nice side benefit – he has a secret affair with Haukberg’s beautiful concubine, Persis d’Io.)
But Abrams believes that there is more going on with the Merseians than is obvious. He tells Flandry he has an agent on Merseia who will attempt to find out the Merseians’ secret, and deliver it to Flandry. Flandry must get the information back to the Terran Empire.
However when the agent delivers the information to Flandry, Hauksberg finds out, and attempts to arrest Flandry for stealing military secrets from Merseia, and jeopardising the peace negotiations. But Persis helps him escape, and the two of them flee the planet in a small spacecraft. But with both Merseians and Terrans after them, where can they go with the information?
And what is the secret information? The agent had provided a cryptic series of numbers. As they travel, Flandry tries to puzzle out their meaning. And he discovers a secret whereby the Merseians intend to gain a great victory over the Terran Empire.
|3021||A Circus of Hells (1970) (novel) (incorporates The White King’s War (1969) (novella)) [Flandry]
Dominic Flandry is now a Lieutenant (j.g.) in the Intelligence Corps, and is based on the planet Irumclaw. The local criminal boss, Leon Ammon, offers Flandry a bribe to undertake a mission for him. Ammon has discovered an old Polesotechnic League record of a moon called Wayland, with valuable heavy metal elements, on which a robotic mining system was established, and he wants Flandry to check it out. (Flandry is willing to accept a bribe, but he does have a higher motivation.) Ammon insists on sending an agent with him, and Flandry asks that the agent be female – that way he’ll have pleasant company on the trip. And so, a young woman, Djana, goes along with him.
Arriving on Wayland, their scoutboat is attacked by robotic flying creatures, forcing it to crashland. They must go on foot to the mining centre where the central computer is located. On the way they encounter all kinds of robotic creatures, all intent on attacking them. And closer to their goal they encounter large robotic chessmen, on a landscape marked up in squares, reminding Flandry of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass”.
But they eventually arrive at their destination, and the mystery is explained. And indeed there are large supplies of valuable minerals on the world.
But back in space, Djana betrays Flandry. She ties Flandry up and hijacks the ship. She has received a better offer. But at the arranged destination, even she is surprised to find they have been captured by the Merseians.
The Merseians take them to a planet called Talwin, which has a Merseian scientific research base – in a secret location close to Terran Empire territory, which the Empire really needs to know about. But it is unlikely that the Merseians will ever release the two humans. However, there is a Merseian scientist present, Ydwyr the Seeker, who is closely related to the Roidhun (Emperor) of Merseia, who takes them under his protection.
There are two intelligent native species on Talwin: the Domrath and the Ruadrath. The Merseians’ purpose is to study these two species. The Domrath hibernate during the winter, whereas the Ruadrath estivate in the sea during summer, and come out onto the land during winter.
Flandry goes with the Merseian research team to a Domrath village as they feast and plan for hibernation with the approaching winter. But while he is there, he receives a radio message from Djana at the base, that the Merseian military intend to take him to Merseia to interrogate him – a process expected to leave his brain like a cabbage before they kill him. Can he escape this fate?
|3025||The Rebel Worlds (1969) (novel) (also published as Commander Flandry (1978)) [Flandry]
Aaron Snelund is a corrupt governor of the Alpha Crucis Sector, having gained his position because he is a favourite of the decadent Emperor Josip III. His plan is to become the power behind the throne. When Fleet Admiral Hugh McCormac starts reporting Snelund’s atrocities to Earth, Snelund has McCormac and his wife Kathryn arrested and imprisoned.
Dominic Flandry, now a Lieutenant Commander, reports for duty on Earth. He is given a fact-finding mission to investigate the Alpha Crucis Sector, and is given command of a warship, Asieneuve, and a temporary rank of Commander.
Arriving at the planet Llynathawr, where Snelund is based, in the Alpha Crucis Sector, Flandry hears the news that McCormac’s men had broken him out of jail, that McCormac has been declared Emperor, and a lot of the worlds and Naval ships of the Sector have gone over to him. The Empire has appointed a new admiral, David Pickens, to put down McCormac’s revolt.
Kathryn McCormac is still confined in Snelund’s palace. Flandry thinks that she might be useful in negotiations with Hugh McCormac, but Snelund refuses to let Flandry speak to her. However, when Snelund’s attention is on the departure of Pickens’ fleet, Flandry’s men take Kathryn into custody and bring her on board Flandry’s ship. Kathryn is glad of this rescue because of Snelund’s mistreatment of her, even though now she is technically Flandry’s prisoner.
Arriving in Hugh McCormac’s home star system, Flandry’s ship is attacked by a barbarian ally of McCormac, and the survivors are forced to abandon ship, and take a lifeboat to the surface of planet Dido. This planet is not populated by humans, except for a scientific research base at Port Frederiksen – a base where Kathryn had previously worked as a scientist. The group have to trek across country to reach the base. They are assisted by the strange natives: individuals of three separate species make up each single sentient Didonian.
Kathryn is happy to be in a familiar environment, and her enthusiasm raises the spirits of the men. Flandry finds himself falling in love with her, but she remains loyal to her husband.
It looks as if they’ll have to surrender to McCormac’s side once they get to Port Frederiksen. But knowing Flandry, he’ll most likely escape, and maybe even end the war.
|3027||Outpost of Empire (1967) (short story) [not Flandry]
John Ridenour, a xenologist (who was on the planet Starkad, in the story “Ensign Flandry”), has been sent to the planet Freehold, to address their problems. Freehold has been populated by humans for centuries, but has joined the Terran Empire in relatively recent times. It has also had a population of ethnic Arulians for centuries too. However, Aruli, the home world of the Arulians, is now part of the Merseian Roidhunate, and with the support of Mersia, the Arulians are smuggling in weapons and troops from Aruli, and are engaging in war with the Freehold humans.
The humans of Freehold live in the Nine Cities. However, over the generations, outcasts and disillusioned humans have left the cities to live in the wilderness. These people, the “outbackers”, are referred to as savages by the city people, and refer to themselves as the Free People, and are largely ignored by the City-based planetary government. But there is some hostility between the Cities and the outbackers, which has been getting worse, with outbackers attacking the Cities. Ridenour sees this as a more significant problem than the conflict with the Arulians.
Ridenour is present in one of the Cities when the outbackers destroy it. However there is minimal loss of life, and the inhabitants are allowed to either wait to be rescued by the authorities from other Cities, or join the outbackers. Ridenour travels with the outbackers as part of his investigation, but without committing to joining them permanently.
He finds that the outbackers are a lot more numerous and sophisticated than he had previously imagined. They hunt and farm and have social systems and rules amongst themselves. And they have some strange abilities, being able to communicate with and give directions to animals. And certain women have “Skills”: for example, being able to make men fall instantly in love with them.
But being loyal to the Terran Empire, at a certain time he sends a message to the Navy ship in orbit, that the ship can land and capture the gathered outbackers. But it is not that simple: the outbackers have more resources to defend themselves than was realised.
|3028||The Day of Their Return (1973) (novel) [Aycharaych but not Flandry]
At the end of “The Rebel Worlds”, Hugh McCormac and his fleet departed to somewhere beyond the boundaries of the Terran Empire, thus ending the rebellion. The Empire placed Aeneas, McCormac’s former home world, under occupation. Commissioner Chunderban Desai is installed as the Imperial resident.
Aeneas has had a long proud history, before becoming part of the Terran Empire. The inhabitants are resentful of the occupation. Desai hopes to peacefully integrate Aeneas back into the Empire. But the hostility seems to be getting worse, with an underground freedom fighters group developing.
Ivar Frederiksen is the son of the Firstman of Ilion, the hereditary ruler of Aeneas. He is involved in a failed ambush against the Terran troops, and has to go on the run. He spends some time with a nomadic group’s wagon train, at which point he meets an Ythrian, Erannath. Ivar suspects that Erannath is an agent of the Ythrian Domain, and wonders if the Domain can help them break away from the Empire. When Ivar is thrown out of the nomadic group, Erannath goes with him, and arranges for him to join a boat of the Riverfolk.
Commissioner Desai is keen to capture Ivar Frederiksen as soon as possible. Being the heir of the Firstman, referred to as the Firstling, Ivar is an obvious leader for the freedom movement.
In the meantime, Desai receives a visitor, a nonhuman called Aycharaych, an anthropologist from the planet Jean-Baptiste, who wants to study the humans of Aeneas. Since Aycharaych has the authorisation of the Sector capital, Desai allows him to travel on the planet, with an escort. But then he gets word that Aycharaych has escaped from his escort and disappeared. And in response to his query to Earth, he learns that Aycharaych is actually from the planet Chereion, in Merseian territory, and is known to be a Merseian agent. What are Aycharaych’s intentions?
On Aeneas are the ruined buildings from an ancient race, who inhabited the planet long before the humans, but have since disappeared. During his travels Ivar has found a widespread sense of awe towards this ancient race, known variously as the Builders, the Ancients and the Elders, etc. This includes a belief that the Ancients will return someday.
As the Terrans manage to track Ivar to the Riverfolk, Ivar and Errannath escape to the land called Orcus. This land is the centre of the belief in the Ancients, having a large structure called the Arena, apparently an amphitheatre, from the time of the Ancients. Orcus is governed by a group called the Companions of the Arena, originally a mystical warrior group, but now performing a mostly secular role. However, recently a prophet, Jaan, has arisen, who claims to be possessed by the spirit of an Ancient called Caruith.
Jaan and the Companions try to persuade Ivar to be part of the movement to throw off the yoke of the Terran Empire. But Ivar hesitates. Can he really believe Jaan has the spirit of an Ancient? Were the Ancients really the all-powerful majestic race people believe they were? And will further conflict with the Empire really benefit the planet?
|3032||Tiger by the Tail (1951) (short story) [Flandry]
Dominic Flandry is now a Captain in the Intelligence service. On a mission to the planet Llynathawr, he is drugged and kidnapped by the alien Scothani, and taken to their home planet Scotha.
The Scothani are little known in the Terran Empire, as they have their own small realm beyond the borders of the Empire. These people have progressed rapidly from barbarianism to a space technology, helped by some spacefaring race. They have contempt for the Empire, seeing it as decadent, and believe that eventually they will defeat the Empire. They have kidnapped Flandry, and made him a slave, to force him to provide as much information as possible about the Empire, to help them in their eventual conquest.
Flandry takes on the role of a treacherous advisor. He feeds their jealousies, greed and ambitions, the suppressed conflict between nations on Scotha, and the ill-feeling of the Scothani’s subject races. He finds allies that will side with the Empire. And he romances the Scothan queen. By the time he gets word to the Empire, there is so much infighting among the Scothani, that the Empire easily defeats them.
|3033||Honorable Enemies (1951) (short story) [Flandry]
The planet Alfzar in the Betelgeuse system is in the buffer zone between the Terran Empire and the Merseian Roidhunate. The Betelgeuseans have a small domain of several planets. Representatives of both the Empire and the Roidhunate have been gathering at Alfzar to woo it for an alliance.
Flandry is there with a female colleague, Aline Chang-Lei. Taking advantage of a drinks party, he sneaks into the Merseian quarters to search them. But Aycharaych the Chereionite, a Merseian agent, finds him there and foils his plans. And Aycharaych manages to counter his moves a few times after this. Finally Flandry figures out that Aycharaych is a powerful telepath. How can Flandry possibly do his job with Aycharaych reading his thoughts?
Then Aline thinks of a plan.
|3035||The Game of Glory (1958) (short story) [Flandry]
[Sometime before this story, Dominic Flandry is knighted. In “A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows”, it is stated that the knighthood was for defeating the barbarians of Scotha, which occurs in “Tiger by the Tail”.]
Flandry is involved in a military action on the planet Brae. A dying marine, Thomas Umbolu, says some things in his delirium that makes Flandry decide to investigate the man’s home planet Nyanza.
Arriving at Nyanza, he discovers it is a world covered with water, with the administrative centre on the only island of significant size. And the Imperial resident has just been murdered.
Most of the people of Nyanza are of black African descent, and live in underwater dwellings. They spend most of their lives on boats or swimming underwater with aqualungs. The world’s population is divided into several nations. Flandry gets transport to the Jaunovaunt nation, where Thomas Umbolu’s family lives, to inform them of Thomas’s death.
He soon realises there is some hostility between the Nyanzans and the Terran Empire. But the secret soon comes out that the nation of Rossala has been amassing weapons. And fearing an attack from Rossala, the other nations have arming themselves as well. But Flandry suspects that an alien being he has been trying to capture – one that he refers to as a monster – is behind the building up of arms.
|3037||A Message in Secret (as Mayday Orbit (1961)) (novel) from shorter version, A Message in Secret (1959) (short story)) [Flandry]
A previously unknown human colony planet, Altai, has been found in the buffer zone between the Terran Empire and the Merseian Roidhunate. Flandry has been sent to persuade them to join the Terran Empire. There has been no contact between Altai and the Empire, and Flandry arrives on Alta on a Betelgeusean trading ship. However, he notices that the world has been building up armaments. Who could be supplying them – the Merseians? And for what purpose – fighting against the Empire?
He is taken to meet the planetary ruler, Oleg Khan, and realises that he must hide the fact that he suspects what’s happening, or he will not be allowed to leave. So he decides he must play the role of a foolish dandy.
He is not surprised when a harem girl approaches him in his assigned quarters in the palace. But her intentions are different from expected. Her name is Bourtai Ivanskaya, and she comes from a group of nomadic tribes, the Tebtengri Shamanate, who do not accept the Khan’s rule. She wants him to take a message to the Empire. Realising the room is probably bugged, Flandry tries to stop her speaking, but she blurts out that the Merseians have been on Altai, and are responsible for the armaments.
And indeed the room had been bugged, so Flandry and Bourtai have to fight their way out of the palace, grab two varyaks (the local equivalent of motorcycles) and escape to the refuge of the Tebtengri.
Flandry needs to get a message to the Terran Empire before the Merseians take over the planet. But the Khan’s men will be watching all the spacecraft leaving. What can he do?
|3038||The Plague of Masters (as Earthman, Go Home!(1961)) (novella) from A Plague of Masters (1960-1961) [Flandry]
Dominic Flandry hears about a previously unknown human colony planet, Unan Besar, from a Betelgeusean trader, and decides to investigate.
Arriving on the planet, he is met by a man called Nias Warouw, the director of the Guard Corps (ie the planetary police), who takes him to meet the members of the governing council, referred to as Biocontrol.
There are poisonous bacteria in the air, which means that all humans must take an antitoxin pill every two weeks. Biocontrol is responsible for manufacturing the antitoxin, and strictly controls the supply of it: each person can only purchase one pill when they’re next due to take it. If someone doesn’t get their pill, they die a long agonising death. So the most extreme punishment the government can administer is to refrain from giving someone their pill and let them die. This is what they do to people who take action, or speak out, against the government.
Biocontrol want to take Flandry’s blaster from him, and interrogate him. Rather than submit to this, he escapes, and takes refuge with two people of the underclass, a woman called Luang, and a big man called Kemul the mugger.
Flandry realises that Biocontrol will not let him leave the planet. The antitoxin could easily be manufactured very cheaply on the planet Spica VI, but Biocontrol do not want to lose their control over the population. And Biocontrol are incompetent governors: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
Flandry had come to the planet without telling his people in the Imperial Naval Intelligence Corps, so there would be no one coming to get him. Access to the spaceport would be controlled. How can he get off the planet, and improve the lot of its people?
|3040||Hunters of the Sky Cave (as We Claim These Stars! (1959) (novel)) from a shorter version, A Handful of Stars (1959) (short story) [Flandry and Aycharaych]
A previously unknown wolf-like race, the Ardazirho, has invaded the human-inhabited planet Vixen. A young woman, Catherine (Kit) Kittredge has escaped to bring word to Earth. Most of the Terran Naval fleet is tied up in conflict with the Merseians at the Syrax Cluster, but a small fleet is sent to Vixen. However the Ardazirho are entrenched on the planet, and it will be hard to get rid of them, short of destroying the human population as well.
Since the Ardazirho are new in the interstellar scene, they must have developed space flight very quickly, which suggests that some other race has been helping them. Their ships bear a similarity to those of the Ymirites. The Ymirites are hydrogen-breathers, and occupy large gas giant planets – in fact Earth had ceded the planet Jupiter to them. However, there has been little reason for conflict between them and oxygen-breathers such as humans and Merseians.
Flandry is sent to Vixen to find out what he can about the Ardazirho: in particular, where their home world Ardazir is. With him in his personal ship Hooligan is his personal valet, Chives, a non-human from the planet Shalmu, who is also a good cook and a capable pilot. And Kit is also aboard.
Flandry and Kit secretly land on Vixen and contact the underground. They manage to capture and interrogate one of the Ardazirho. However, all of the Ardazirho have been conditioned to either die when captured, or have had their minds wiped of the location of their home planet. And so the few clues Flandry obtains don’t provide the information.
But then Flandry and Kit get captured by the enemy. How can they escape, and find out the necessary information to save the planet?
|3042||The Warriors from Nowhere (as The Ambassadors of Flesh (1954)) (short story)
Flandry is on furlough at his lodge on the planet Varrak, with his valet Chives, and his current mistress, Ella. Then he receives word that barbarians have raided Varrak’s one city Fort Lone, and carried off a whole group of women, including Lady Megan, royal princess, granddaughter of the Emperor. Lady Megan had been on an interstellar tour.
Flandry’s superior, Admiral Fenross, orders Flandry back on duty. There will be trouble for them when the Emperor finds out what has happened to his granddaughter. Fenross’s forces are searching far and wide to find out where Lady Megan has been taken. Could the Merseians be behind this?
But Flandry’s research suggests to him that the culprit is closer to home: Duke Alfred, governor of the Taurian Sector, whose palace is on the planet Vor. Presumably the Duke will arrange for a barbarian king to claim part of Imperial territory as a ransom, but once granted, the barbarian king would be a puppet for Duke Alfred.
Flandry sets off for Vor, with Chives, and Ella, who has volunteered to help. They plan to infiltrate the palace, to try and locate the missing princess.
|3047||A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (1974) (novel) (also published as Knight Flandry (1980)) [Flandry]
[This story has quite a few links with previous stories.]
Dominic Flandry is on holidays with a 27-year-old son he previously did not know existed: Dominic Hazeltine, whose mother is Persis d’Io (from the story “Ensign Flandry”). Before they part, Hazeltine, who is also in Naval Intelligence, comments that trouble is brewing on the planet Dennitza: some of its citizens are apparently engineering rebellion on the planet Diomedes (previously mentioned in the Nicholas van Rijn story “The Man Who Counts”).
Emperor Josip had died, and with several contenders to the throne, civil war had broken out in the Empire. But eventually Hans Molitor had become Emperor. As one of his faithful supporters during his bid for the throne, Flandry is now in a position of privilege.
Returning to his home on Earth, Flandry learns of a Dennitzan woman who had been arrested on Diomedes, and as is the practice for criminals in the Empire, sold into slavery. Entrusted by the Emperor with investigating the situation with Dennitza, Flandry buys the woman. He learns that she is Kossara Vymezal, the niece of Bodin Miyatovich, the Gospodar (ruler) of Dennitza. She had been interrogated using the hypnoprobe, roughly and inexpertly, leaving her with much memory loss.
With the death of Duke Alfred in “The Warriors from Nowhere”, the Taurian Sector capital world was relocated from the planet Vor to Dennitza, with its Gospodar as the governor. And Dennitza had supported Hans Molitor as Emperor, so Flandry finds it surprising that it would rebel.
In addition to human citizens, Dennitza has citizens of Merseian descent (who refer to themselves as “ychani”), whose ancestors had settled shortly after the supernova near their planet of origin (referred to in “Day of Burning”). However this was before the rising of the Roidhunate as an interstellar power, and the ychani bear no allegiance to the Roidhunate.
On Diomedes, the indigenous beings with a sedentiary lifestyle, such as the Drak’ho (the Fleet), had adapted to Technic civilisation much better that those with a migratory lifestyle, such as the Lannachska (the Flock). The latter had apparently wanted to contact the Ythrians, for support, being similar winged-beings. So when intelligence reports indicated that humans were present on Diomedes, stirring up rebellion, Naval Intelligence initially thought that these must be citizens of Avalon. But then the humans were discovered to be Dennitzans, having landed there claiming to be doing scientific research.
Attempting to investigate the conspiracy, Flandry travels to Diomedes in his ship Hooligan, taking Kossara and his personal servant, Chives. He drops Kossara off so she can attempt to contact her colleagues (although he is secretly tracking her), while he visits the Imperial resident.
But Flandry starts to suspect that the Merseians are behind the supposed rebellion, and that human agents from the Roidhunate have infiltrated the Empire, and in fact Naval Intelligence itself, and are using Kossara as a pawn. It seems that his old foe Aycharaych is behind the plot. Kossara has landed herself in trouble amongst her supposed colleagues, and Flandry has to rescue her. And Flandry and Kossara fall in love with each other.
Flandry realises that there is indeed trouble brewing on Dennitza, stirred up by human agents of the Mersians, at the news that the Gospodar’s niece has been sold into slavery by the Imperial authorities. Flandry and his two companions must fly as quickly as possible to Dennitza, to try to prevent a fullscale rebellion. And they realise that agents of the Mersians will attempt to kill them.
|3061||A Stone in Heaven (1979) (novel) [Flandry]
Miriam “Banner” Abrams is the chief scientist at Wainwright Research station on the planet Ramnu. Humans are not able to leave the station, except briefly in protective suits, due to the heavy gravity and high air pressure.
The nickname “Banner” had been given to her by the indigenous beings of the planet, from the flag on the research station, but had come to be used by her own people as well.
Banner’s work involves a communications link with Yewwl, a female Ramnuan – Banner is able to see, hear, and experience what Yewwl is experiencing.
An ice age is coming on Ramnu; glaciers are encroaching on areas occupied by the Ramnuans.
Banner has several times requested help from Grand Duke Edwin Cairncross on the planet Hermes, since Ramnu falls under his jurisdiction. Climate change is within the Empire’s capability. But Duke Edwin has refused, saying it will cost too much.
Banner decides to take her request to Earth, to Dominic Flandry, now an admiral. Flandry and Banner’s late father, Max Abrams [mentioned in “Ensign Flandry”], had been good friends. Also Flandry should have some influence with the Emperor. He had been close to Emperor Hans Molitor, but now Hans’s son Gerhart is on the throne, and the relationship is somewhat cooler.
But Duke Edwin has got wind of Banner’s errand, and takes a fast spaceship to get to Earth before her. He requests that Flandry return with him to Hermes, to investigate a conspiracy against him. But Flandry is suspicious, and delays responding to him.
When Banner arrives on Earth, an attempt is made to abduct her, but Flandry rescues her. Cairncross must have been trying to prevent Banner meeting him. Flandry’s investigations lead him to conclude that the Duke is building up armaments and warships – presumably on Ramnu and its moons – and is planning to overthrow the Emperor and take his place. But he needs to visit Ramnu to get proof.
So Flandry sets off for Ramnu in his spaceship Hooligan, with Banner and his valet Chives on board. They need to act quickly before Cairncross realises what they are doing.
Returning to Wainwright station, Banner gets in touch with Yewwl again, and persuades her, and a group of companions, to go the industrial facility on Ramnu, to spy it out and report to her. And then Flandry, Banner and Chives will have to take further action.
|3064||The Game of Empire (1985) (novel) [Flandry]
Diana Crowfeather is a 17 year-old girl on the planet Imhotep. She is the daughter of Dominic Flandry and Maria Crowfeather. Since her mother died, Diana has become homeless, scrounging for jobs, such as being a guide for visitors from off-planet. (Flandry, away on Earth, presumably either does not know he has a daughter, or is unaware of her current circumstances.)
There are various races living on Imhotep, including humans, and also the Tigeries and Seafolk, who relocated from Starkad to Imhotep, following the events of the story “Ensign Flandry”.
Axor, a giant centauroid dragon-like being, from the planet Woden, arrives on Imhotep. [He is the same species as Adzel in the David Falkayn stories.] He is a convert to Catholicism, and has been ordained as a priest. He is interested in finding relics of the Foredwellers (or Ancients, referred to previously in “The Day of Their Return”), which he hopes will reveal something of the nature of God. Diana becomes Axor’s guide, and they set off to try and locate such relics on Imhotep.
Targovi is from the Tigery race on Imhotep. He is a trader, but also a secret intelligence agent for the Empire. He travels in his spaceship Moonjumper between Imhotep and Daedalus, which is another planet in the same solar system.
Magnussan is an Admiral based on Daedalus. He has previously been successful in fighting off an attack by the Merseians, and is much admired because of this.
The Empire has become decadent. Magnussan makes his move to become Emperor. This results in civil war. His troops are loyal to him, and many people believe he would be a better Emperor than Gerhart. Magnussan captures world after world, and is generally successful against the forces of the Emperor.
Targovi suspects something more is going on. But his queries to his superior are stonewalled. And he wonders whether something is going on in the enclosed community of Zacharia on Daedalus.
The island of Zacharia is an autonomous nation; the inhabitants are genetically almost identical – allowing for differences in sex, and mutations. Outsiders are generally discouraged from visiting, and Zacharians do not permit intermarriage between their citizens and outsiders.
To disguise his intent, Targovi invites Axor and Diana to travel with him to Daedalus – ostensibly to search out information about the Foredwellers. The Zacharians have libraries and experts in various subjects, which may provide information for Axor. The Zacharians are also keen to meet a Wodenite, as he is an unusual occurrence in these parts, and he can provide them with lots of knowledge from his travels.
But what Targovi discovers in Zacharia confirms his worst suspicions.
Dominic Flandry is present in the story (he is now married to Miriam Abrams), but plays a fairly minor role compared to the other characters.
|Mid-4th millennium||Fall of Terran Empire, Long Night|
|3600||A Tragedy of Errors (1968) (short story)
The Terran Empire has fallen, and interaction between different worlds is chaotic.
Roan Tom is a warlord from the planet Kraken. He has lived as an adventurer, a bandit and a pirate.
When an insurrection occurs on the planet Sassania, he rescues Yasmin, the daughter of the deputy governor, and takes off into space with her in his spaceship Firedrake. His wife Dagny, from Kraken, who is also on board, insists that he marry Yasmin, for her protection. So now he has two wives on board (besides more back home).
But the ship has been damaged, and he proceeds to a nearby planet, which he discovers is called Nike. The people of Nike have long been isolated, and have lost space technology. Tom gets a hostile reception, and the military aircraft of Nike force the Firedrake down. But they have asked Tom to submit to slavery, which he is not willing to do, having experienced that before. He sends the two women off on foot, and fights back against the aircraft, before hijacking one of them.
The people of Nike speak a version of Anglic, but there has been significant language drift, and Tom soon realises there have been critical misunderstandings between them. But how can he now survive, and locate his wives, and manage to get home again?
|NFOS, LN, FL|
|3900||The Night Face (1973) (as Let the Spacemen Beware! (1963) (novel) from shorter version, A Twelvemonth and a Day (1960) (short story)
The planet Gwydion has been isolated since the breakup of the Commonwealth, about a thousand years before.
The ship Quetzal arrives from the planet Nuevamerica, hoping to establish a base on the planet. The leader of the mission is Miguel Tolteca. There is also a troop of mercenary soldiers on board, from the planet Lochlann, who serve as the expedition’s security, headed by a man called Raven.
The people of Gwydion seem to live in harmony with each other and their world, and have no formal government. They have a rich mythology. Tolteca and Raven both get to know a young woman called Elfavy, the daughter of their host Dawyd. There is some jealousy between the two men.
But Raven cannot believe that all is harmonious. The Gwydiona sometimes talk about danger and death, calling them the Night Faces of God. And there is secrecy about a special time of year, the Bale time, when the people go to the Holy City to celebrate – but sometimes death and destruction, from some unknown source, also occurs during this time.
|4000||The Sharing of Flesh (1968) (short story)
A research station, consisting of workers from a number of the more civilised worlds, has been established on a long isolated planet – the inhabitants just call it “the World”. The inhabitants are human, who had returned to a primitive way of life centuries before.
The local people who live in the city of Lokon are more sophisticated and cooperative than the savage lowlanders who live out in the wild.
Donli Sairn is a biologist, and when he hears of possible birdlife on the planet, he goes with the native lowlander guide Moru to find it. Donli had not long been married, and his wife Evalyth is watching the transmission he is sending back to base. So it is a shock when she sees Moru kill Donli, and proceed to dismember him.
Evalyth is from the planet Kraken, and according to their code of conduct, she feels she must take revenge on her husband’s murderer, despite the attempt of other members of the expedition to dissuade her. She discusses this with Rogan, the chief of Lokon, and discovers a fact the research expedition had not known: cannibalism is widely practiced on the planet – especially as a puberty rite for boys. The more sophisticated Lokonese keep slaves for this purpose, but the lowlanders prey on each other, or anyone they can capture in the jungle.
Using advanced technology Evalyth manages to track down Moru and his family. But will she in the end execute Moru? And is there some reason for the cannibalism that is not apparent?
|7100||Starfog (1967) (short story)
The Long Night is over, and a new federation has formed – the Commonality. But it is far from Earth, and the people of the Commonality do not know what has become of the home planet.
A spaceship arrives at the planet Serieve. The crew are human, but they claim they have come from another universe, where space is a shining cloud, 200 light years across, and with huge numbers of stars. They had left their planet Kirkasant, and then got lost amongst the multitude of stars. And then they had emerged into this universe, where, in comparison, the space appears dark, with stars spread thinly.
The Serievan authorities are not sure whether to believe that such a “universe” exists; in fact the physicist Vandange accuses them of lying. So they call in one of the Rangers, Daven Laure.
Laure gets to know the Kirkasanter captain, Demring, and the captain’s daughter, Graydal, to whom Laure feels romantically attracted. He decides to travel back with them to their universe, accompanying their spaceship Makt in his own spaceship Jaccavrie.
The Kirkasanters say that according to their legends they arrived in their Cloud Universe 5,000 years ago, after being pursued by some enemy. But their ship needed repairs, and it required all their efforts just to survive, before starting to build up an industrial base over the thousands of years, and rediscovering the technology to build new spaceships.
The spaceships Makt and Jaccavrie arrive at what the Kirkasanters call their universe, which Laure realises is a dense star cluster, but quite an unusual one, with a huge number of stars in all stages of their lifecycle. The density of stars and large amounts of all kinds of radiation make it virtually impossible to navigate. It might be possible to set up beacons, but it would require a huge number, and the cost would be enormous.
But Laure has an idea how Kirkasant can be found again.
|BB, NFOS, LN, FL|
TS – Trader to the Stars (1964)
ATE – Agent of the Terran Empire (1965)
FT – Flandry of Terra (1965)
TT – The Trouble Twisters (1966)
BB – Beyond the Beyond (1969)
MWPA – The Many Worlds of Poul Anderson (1974)
HB – Homeward and Beyond (1975)
BPA – The Best of Poul Anderson (1976)
EBS – Earth Book of Stormgate (1978)
NFOS – The Night Face and Other Stories (1979)
Ex – Explorations (1981)
GL – The Gods Laughed (1982)
LN – The Long Night (1983)
Omnibus series – Technic Civilization Saga
VRM – The Van Rijn Method (2008) (Technic Civilization Saga 1)
DF – David Falkayn: Star Trader (2009) ( Technic Civilization Saga 2)
RTE – Rise of the Terran Empire (2009) (Technic Civilization Saga 3)
YF – Young Flandry (2010) (Technic Civilization Saga 4)
CF – Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire (2010) (Technic Civilization Saga 5)
SDF – Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra (2010) (Technic Civilization Saga 6)
FL – Flandry’s Legacy (2011) (Technic Civilization Saga 7)
Poul Anderson bibliography – Wikipedia
Zarthani.net – Poul Anderson’s Science-Fiction Future Histories
Poul Anderson Appreciation (Paul Shackley) You can enter “technic civilisation” in the search box.
Val’s Random Comments – See reviews under the heading “Anderson, Poul”.
Summary Bibliography: Poul Anderson