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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) 5HC: the abo "stellar chameleon device"
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 10:17:58 


>Thank you, that is indeed the conclusion toward which I was meandering ever
>so erratically. The difficulty I have, with just leaving it at that, is that
>I should think that the French interstellar explorers who (re)discovered the
>system would have done basic astrometrics as a matter of course and perhaps
>been put on guard by the evident fact that Messrs. Hertzsprung, Russell,
>Newton, and Kepler have gone on holiday so far as this system is concerned.

Part of the situation here is: the C/A system had been overlooked, more
distant stars explored and colonized (the planets, of course), at the time
that the first French ship came down.

The easy answer is: ah, it was that "cloaking device" type spell being done
by the Shadow Children.  It made the star itself not invisible (they knew
it was there), but looking like a cannonical star that should not/could
not/did not have any planets at all for one reason or another (too big, too
small, too young, etc.).  If this theory is to be followed out, then we
should be looking for completely inappropriate stars in the target range,
rather than stars that could really be right.

OTOH, when Shadow Child Wolf pulls the plug on the spell, it seems more
like maybe it was only hiding the twin planets (rather than disguising the
star).  But maybe not, come to think of it. So anyway, there's this stellar
chameleon device angle.

>If the star is so nonconformant to the parameters of  the main sequence, who
>knows how unstable it might be? (and, if artificially altered, what would be
>the ramifications of that scenario? What if the parties responsible return,
>prepared to weed from their garden any biological infestations which might
>have occurred in the interim?) Would it be wise to colonize it, or even to
>invest the effort of exploring it with an objective of possible
>colonization? Or, perhaps, was the Great Anglo-Franco War already raging
>elsewhere in the galaxy, and were the French explorers/colonists in fact
>desperate refugees disinclined to look a gift horse in the mouth? (rather
>remeniscent of Larry Niven's motley collection of flawed colony worlds in
>his Known Space cycle.)

I still get a kick out of thinking about the twin planets and their star as
a big world-building/star-tinkering forerunner-race project.  I don't know
if Wolfe thought of it this way at all, but still it is a neat angle.
Remember how in RINGWORLD there is this Stapledonian angle of how the
humanoids come to fill each ecological niche . . . of an artificial
megaworld?  So you have grazing humans, and jackal humans, and so forth: a
huge ecological pyramid all evolved from human stock. Hard sf leading right
back into that deep primitive hunter realm of "we are all brothers, animals
and humans alike" (which is very different from the herding realm!): and
this is exactly what we have in the case of Wolfe's wonderful "Tracking
Song" (terraforming, beastmen, etc.).

But in a manufactured environment: like bacteria found growing in jet fuel,
where supposedly nothing could survive.  We know that creatures adapt to
their environment, that the landscape biome shapes them, and that each
continent on Earth has its own little variant as well.  Shaping humanity as
well, into what we call races (Wolfe mentions this in TBOTNS).  So what if
plastic humanity is put into an artificial alien construction?  In Niven's
case, the world is obviously a dingus, so the surprise is how the humanoids
have responded by mutating the way they have (that is, we see the "song of
Ringworld" through the people it causes to flourish).  In the case of 5HC,
even if the worlds and their star are not a manufactured thing, still, they
are in effect a couple of alien continents--biomes which we begin to sense
by the types of humans they cause to flourish.

The contest between Ste. Anne and Ste. Croix may originate in their soils,
and predate all human contact.  If the worlds were manufactured, then the
contest might be one of alien design rather than natural happenstance.  In
any event, it may be that Anglo-French conflict has really nothing to do
with it: the situation is the song of the planets being sung.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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