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Starfarers
by Poul Anderson


p.18 To make matters worse, a hurricane raged along the seacoast west of him. To wait in orbit till the window for an approach from the east opened would squander time. Besides, weather along that flight path had its own nasty spots. This atmosphere was not Earth's. Steep axial tilt and rapid rotation increased the treacherousness. Meterologist Hrodny was still struggling to develop accurate computer programs. Crewfolk argued about whether to recommend naming the planet Satan or Loki.

p.29 Wind and Rain, dark as night,
     The cock crowed and would not stop.
     Now that I have seen my lord,
     How can I any more be sad?


p.38-39 Every northern summer solstice on Mars, the Order of the Received Cosmosophy brought forth from Pryor's tomb the device he related finding in a cave on Ascraeus Mons, left by the Galactics to await a genius who could endure to use it. Since his translation to a higher existence, it again lay inert; but a procession carried it to the Temple of Truth for solemn ceremonies before returning it to its resting place. Perhaps another genius would appear, in whose brain the quantum mechanical resonances would pulse anew, bringing further manifestations from the Ones. Meanwhile its appearances reminded the faithful of the doctrines their prophet had received, which the Synod of Interpreters rendered into day-by-day commandments. Such a communion will not take kindly to an outsider who loads with instruments an apartment that the processions must pass, afterward publishing her data and explaining how they show that the circuits in the box do nothing and never could do anything.
     "Why did you?" Nansen pursued.
     "I've told people over and over," she spat. "To expose the fraud."
     "You haven't, you know," he said. "Devout believers go on believing, and call you the liar. You are not stupid. Nor do I think you are completely naive. It was a good deal of trouble to go, for what you should have foreseen was a pointless prank. Why? What drove you to it?"
     She swallowed hard, red and white surging across her face. The sun made flame of her hair. He waited.
     "All right," she got out. "I didn't put this in my file because I didn't think it was anybody else's business. But I suppose it is yours, and you'll keep it to yourself. I had a dear friend. He owned property on Mars. The Order wanted it, and did him out of it, blackening his name in the process. He... got drunk, got careless about his air supply in the desert, died. The body wasn't found till too late for retrieval. I was angry."

p.46-47 Mokoena rose and led the way inside. Ruszek glanced around. The living room was clean but cluttered: cassettes, folio books, printouts, pictures, childhood toys, seashells, souvenirs ranging from garish to gorgeous, woven hangings, old handicrafted pieces--tools, bowls, musical instruments, fetishes, masks, two assegais crossed behind a shield. She sat down on a worn and sagging couch, beckoned him to join her, and spoke to the television.
     It came alight with a view of an auditorium. The building must date back at least a century, for it overwhelmed the hundred-odd people who had come in person to hear. However, on request the net reported that some twenty million sets were tuned in around the globe. Doubtless several times that number would carry relays, or at least excerpts. "Aren't we the sensation, we Envoy crew?" Ruszek gibed. "Every sneeze and fart of ours is newsworthy. How long till they forget, once we're gone? Six months?"

p.58 When the whole company was seated, Nansen tapped his goblet with a knife. The chime brought talk buzzing to a halt. Attention swung toward him, at the head of the table in a gray tunic with gold trim. "Silence, please," he said. "A moment for those who wish to bless our meal."
     He crossed himself. He was nominally a Reform Catholic, as observant as he felt good manners required. Ruszek did likewise. Zeyd bowed his head. Mokoena looked down at her folded hands and whispered. Yu and Sundaran grew meditative. The rest waited respectfully.

p.89-90 The old man sat on a log and plucked a harp. He had fashioned it himself and he half spoke, half sang to its notes, in a tradition that died before he was born, forever, when he who had resurrected it was gone.
     "I have come to you, Feng Huang, who have never been another Earth and never can be nor should, I have come to lay my bones in your soil. First, however, I will tell you of Earth, I will say to your winds what Earth was when last I walked upon her.
     "She lay bleeding, Feng Huang, and the shadow of many deaths over her, and the fear of many more to come. New dreams were astir, as ruthless as the new ever are, and the ancient overlords with their ancient ways stood against it, hoping to kill the newborn dreams and those who bore them. A mighty war was in the making, and none could foresee what ruin it would wreak or what the whims of chance might spare.
     "I, who neared the end of my days, wept for the young. I, who was about to depart, went about bidding good-bye to those things that remained on Earth, wonderful, beautiful, and defenseless, from all the ages she had known. I would not be content with images and illusions; I wanted memories of having myself met what had been shaped by my hands, seen by eyes, trodden by feet, kissed by lips long down in dust.
     "In a green country wet with springtime I found the great stones of Newgrange, where a folk forgotten once buried t heir kings; and along its western cliffs, where the sea roared gray, I went into a little parish church from when the people found their hope in Christ, and I knelt before his altar.
     "Light streamed on me in many colors trough the windows of faerie York Minster and soaring Chartres Cathedral. At the University of Salamanca, which remembers the wise Moors, I lost myself in books.
     "I looked into the big eyes of the Empress Theodora at Ravenna and knew why men had loved her. I saw Michaelangelo's Judgment Day in Rome and wished that the doors in our cosmology had such a meaning.
     "The columns of the Parthenon rose before me, broken, eroded, but softly golden from centuries of weather, and they made my spirit stand as true as they.
     "In the tombs of Egypt, where the paintings still cried forth love of life, I wondered at the steadfastness that hewed them from the rock beneath that furnace sky.
     "Shwe Dagon recalled another faith, which yearned beyond life for oneness but which wrought splendor.
     "I stood on the Great Wall, where brave men had kept watch against the barbarians, adn I searched through the Forbidden City for the loveliness that dynasty after dynasty had gathered together.
     "Under blossoming cherry trees in a Kyoto twilight, it was as if I heard temple bells ringing again.
     "The halls were Washington and Jefferson spoke of freedom are no more; but I have walked over the Virginia hills that they knew.
     "On an Andean mountain I did homage to the stones of Machu Picchu, whose builders followed dreams of their own.
     "I tell this to your winds, Feng Huang, that they may strew it wherever they will. There is no other remembrance known to me.
     "Now soon I shall lay my bones in your soil, where my Eileen laid hers many centuries ago."

p.99-100 Nansen stared into the viewscren. He didn't know where to find that faded resplendency. Imagination evoked it: two stars whirling close about each other, one a dim and long-lived red dwarf, one a spendthrift giant that had flared up before collapsing into the tiny, superdense, incandescent globe of a neutron star. It kept most of its great mass gravity. Thus it stole material from its companion. A fiery bridge of gas joined them--no, a river, a cataract, tumbling from the red to the white--hydrogen piling up on the neutron surface, jammed together by weight, heated by the energy of its Lucifer-like fall, until it reached the thermonuclear flash point and exploded, a cosmic bomb, briefly outshining fifty or a hundred Sols... The cycle went on and on, through millions of years, but slowly the one sun would dwindle to a fragment while the other would grow and grow... Finally, perhaps, in a remote future, the last catastrophe, a supernova of Type I, and afterward the mystery that humans called a black hole...

p.185-186 Presently, he began to sing.

     "When Jerry Clawson was a baby
     On his mother's knee in old Kentuck,
     He said, 'I'm gonna ride those deep-space rockets
     Till the bones in my body turn to dust'--"


     He sensed her come out and stand behind him, but pretended not to. Instead he regarded the stars.

     "--Jerry's voice came o'er the speaker:
     'Cut your cable and go free.
     On full thrust, she's blown more shielding.
     Radiation's got to me.

     "'Take the boats in safety Earthward.
     Tell the Blue Star Line for me
     I was born with deep space calling.
     Now in space forevermore I'll be.'"


     He ended with a crash of springs, turned his head, and rose.
     "No, sit down," she said before he could bow. "We're not on Earth. What was that song?"
     "'Jerry Clawson,' Freelady," he replied. "A translation from the original English. It goes back to the days of purely interplanetary flight."

p.190 Both knew he wouldn't touch her without leave, and to a person of her status scandal was as irrelevant as the weather on another planet.

p.207-208 "Look at that," Kilbirnie breathed. "Just look at that."
     "Apa Isten." Ruszek did not seem to notice he had crossed himself.
     The ship was passing within twelve million kilometers of the third planet. Her crew had gathered in the reserve saloon-galley to see what her optics could screen for them. Magnified and enhanced, a thick crescent stood ruddy, mottled--and silver-spotted with seas. Air slightly blurred the limb and softened the edge between day and night. Clouds, elongated and patchy rather thanmarbling, shone less brilliantly white than Earth's; but they shone. Three firefly sparks glinted against the blackness beyond, satellites. Instruments had found at least a dozen more.
     Only a third again as big as Mars. receiving at its distance no more light from the weaker sun, the globe should have been a similar desolation, its atmosphere almost as thin. But barely discernible as a shimmer where sunlight struck at particular angles, a transparent shell enclosed it, twenty-odd kilometers greater in radius. A few of the travelers thought they could make out one or two of the pillars upholding the structure. Spectroscopy showed the air within to be thicker than Earth's, and as warm. It was carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water vapor, traces o methane and other gases, nothingto sustain creatures with lungs. Nevertheless waters and land gave reflection spectra of complex organic materials. Life-stuff?
     "Those satellites are neutrino radiators," Dayan said. Not everyone aboard had yet heard of her newest discoveries. "Thermonuclear reactors. I think they're beaming energy down to the planet, heating it. And there are are areas of violent activity on the surface. The waste heat from them contributes." Awe underlay her dry words.
     "The Yonderfolk are terraforming," Mokoena marveled.
     Sundaram smiled, less calmly than he was wont. "Not precisely 'terra,' Mam."
     Clelan spoke confidently, in his element. "It can't be that simple. I daresay they brought in ices from comets, and roofed everything in to keep volatiles from escaping. Probably the shell also filters out excessive ultraviolet and screens off hard radiation. The planet's not massive enough to have much of a magnetic field for protection, if any. But neither can it have plate tectonics. How do they propose to maintain the carbonate-silicate cycle and the other equilibria necessary for life to last? For that matter, transforming raw gases into breathable air and rock into soil takes huge amounts of energy. Which means time--geological time."
     "Perhaps the Yonderfolk think that far ahead," Yu said low.

p.211 A being stood unclad against a background of enigmatic apparatus. The first word aboard for it had been "centaur," but that was like calling a man an ostrich because both were bipeds.

p.263 God is in the details, she reflected. And so is the devil, and the truth somewhere inbetween.

p.302 Kilbirnie laughed. "We've already noted we'll have no dearth of volunteers. They think their world has been stagnating quite long enough.
     "I wouldn't call it stagnant," Cleland argued. "I'd call it, uh, stable. That's how most of them see it."
     "How the reactionaries among them do," Dayan snapped.
     "Please, no swear words," Yu said gently. "Let us call them the conservatives."

p.312-314 Once in the primeval galaxy, soon after the first burst of starbirth, a blue giant sun came to the end of its short and furious life. It exploded, the stupendous violence of a supernova. Briefly, it outshone its whole island universe. The gas it blasted out into space held elements heavier than iron, which could have formed no other way: nickel, copper, silver, tin, gold, uranium, and more. Some of this would later enter into the nascence of newer stars, together with hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen; and around some of these would arise living creatures.
     The wreckage did not collapse into a neutron globe. The sun had been too great, its eruption too mighty. Any planets were vaporized. A remnant mass, ten times that of the Sol that did not yet exist, fell in on itself. So huge did the gravitational force become that it overwhelmed all resistance, and the mass contracted without limit. Beyond a certain point, even light could not break free. Therefore nothing could that was drawn in. The star took on the aspect of a sphere absolutely black, 185 kilometers in circumference. You could not calculate this radius from this. In the distorted space-time geometry within, as the mass approached the pointlike state of a singularity, such concepts lost their familiar meanings. Nor could you have discovered what was going on inside; whatever information the matter had borne was lost. There was only t hat black, slightly flattened sphere, the event horizon.
     The body did retain properties of angular momentum, corresponding to a wildly fast spin, and magnetic field, immensely strong. It could also keep an electric charge, through slight, because ions and electrons from the interstellar medium effectively neutralized any. Through these, and the gravity of its mass, it still interacted with the outside cosmos.
     At the event horizon, space and time were deformed, twisted, virtually dragged along by the whirling. Now and then, one of the nuclear pairs that seethed in and out of existence in the vacuum happened to appear in just such a position that a single member was captured while the other flew off, energized. In this fashion, the black hole evaporated, radiated--but insignificantly while it was its present size, so slowly that t he last red stars anywhere would burn out before it was gone.
     Atoms and dust sucked in from the environs kindled by the real fire. Gathering velocity as they streamed inward, they began colliding near the blackness. energy shot off as photons. The forces drew much of the plasma into an accretion disk, a maelstrom gyring about the black hole, to plunge at last down the throat of the vortex. Matter was also carried to the north and south magnetic poles and there hurled in beams back across light-years.
     Without a companion star to strip, this body did not appear spectacular. Its luminance, X rays, was weaker than the X-ray band of all but the dimmer red dwarf stars. Through a telescope the eye saw the disk as a small, flickery ring of wan blue-white. The beams were only visible to radio receivers. But the intensity of either shining would be lethal to any traveler who came within tens of thousands of kilometers.
     The maelstrom did not quern steadily. Waves billowed through, clashed together, flung flares like spume; great coils flamed forth, arching a million kilometers or more until they sleeted back; magnet convulsions made the plasma shudder across the still wider distances; and chaos, less well understood than these unforeseeables, wreaked havoc stranger yet.
     Envoy took orbit at ten million kilometers' remove.

p.379 "Götterdämmerung"

p.382 Mokoena and Zeyd came in, burdened with iron objects, which they dumped clattering on the deck. The trio joined them. Mokoena picked up a long pry bar with a sharp edge on the end and hefted it, seeking for the balance point. "Not an assegai," she murmured, "but it will do."
     Dayan smiled bleakly. "'Tis enough, 'twill serve,'" she said, and bent down to rummage.
     "Ha!" Ruszek had carried the ion torch here but set it aside. He grabbed a maul, short-handed, heavy-handed, and swung it. They saw him wince and heard him snatch for air. He straightened and stood firm. Nobody stopped to think how his shoulder, now bashed against that door a second time, must pain him.
     Zeyd struck a pair of screwdrivers under his belt and clutched a wrench. Nansen experimented with a meter-long rod, repair stock; it was blunt, but wielded by a saber man, it could strike or thrust lethally as a sword. "Are you prepared to hunt Brent down?" he asked rhetorically. "Very well, Man, I hate to expose a woman to danger--"
     She grinned and jerked her weapon. "Up yours."

p.410 "(Is it bad that possibilities open up?)" Nansen argued. "(I envy your race its nearness to the black hole. You can discover more than we today can imagine, thousands of years before we will be able to.)"
     "(What cost does progress bear?)" Ivan retorted. "(I have studied what you related of your human history. I witnessed the slaughter aboard your ship.)"
     "(Need it happen to you? Cannot you make choices as free as ours?)"
     "(I hope so. I realize you did not intend to disturb us. You could not know. It chanced, as the collision of a stray planet with Tahir might chance. The cosmos goes deeper than our minds ever will.)"      Ivan was still for a span. "(I do not hate you,)" en admitted. "(I would even like to be your friend.)"      Hand clasped hand.
     They let go. "(But you must not disturb us more,)" Ivan begged. "(Leave us to cope with what you have left us. Depart before you raise more discontent, more questions.)"
     "(I suppose we always will, wherever we are,)" Nansen wrote on his parleur as stoically as he would have uttered it.
     "(Yes, because your race is mad.)"
     "(Maybe. And maybe that is why we voyage.)"
     The wind blew, the waves ran.

p.459 "You have a beautiful world here," he said. "I didn't hope to find anything like this."
     I hoped to find humans in the freedom of the galaxy, and something of its grandeur in their spirits.
     She nodded. How slender her neck was, beneath the heavy hair. "Three thousand years of peace."
     "Thanks to... Selador." Who seems to have done better than the Christ they seem to have forgotten.