Friday, 20 February 2015
(This is another post that begins somewhere else, then returns to Poul Anderson Appreciation.)
Superman began publication as an adult character in 1938 so his spaceship must have come to Earth about 1918, although no one usually associates him with that period. However, in the Smallville TV series, his spaceship arrived in 1989 so why was it not detected as an incoming missile by US radar defense systems? Because this time the small space capsule arrived in a large Kryptonite meteor shower. Did the ship's drive field carry the meteors through hyperspace?
In Poul Anderson's The Star Fox (London, 1968), the space privateers use "...a giant meteorite or small asteroid..." (p. 148) to conceal the descent of a spaceship onto the surface of the planet New Europe. Because of the speed of descent, air impact would destroy the ship:
"Unless she followed exactly behind the meteorite, using its mass for a bumper and heat shield, its flaming tail for a cloak." (p. 149)
Gunnar Heim must steer the ship through its "...narrow slot of partial vacuum..." (ibid), watching the external incandescence and internal instruments, guided by intuition and an unreeling computation of where he ought to be at each moment. This sounds like other dangerous space passages in Anderson's works:
Dominic Flandry around a pulsar;
Nicholas van Rijn around an extinct supernova;
the Tau Zero ship around a new monobloc.
Before this some of Heim's men made an "...epic..." (p. 148) trip around New Europe's moon but it is not stated exactly why. Did they detach the mass that became the meteorite?