Monday, April 22, 2013

Planet Astrobe from above...

'And another sort of entrails were spread out for them to see.  It had come on first dusk as they stood there, and they drank in the view as though it were new apple-wine.  It was the entrails of the planet below them.  There were the Ferals, and the Glebe, and the String of Cities.  There was the black-green Astrobe of the feral strip they had just traversed, and the golden Astrobe of the cultivated regions.  There were the great golden cities at their close intervals.  And there was black Cathead and the gray Barrio.  All of them giant things!

The branch of the sea that cradled Wu Town and ended in a splinter of estuaries and canals at Cathead was a black-blue-green monster, writhing with strength and dotted with huge sea-harvesters.  There was Cosmopolis standing high and wide in a special golden halo - the heart of civilized Astrobe.'

-R. A. Lafferty, Past Master (1968)


Kevin said...

It is both edifying and gratifying to climb a mountain and look back over the valley of your city, especially at dusk. You can watch the lights turn on and the city change over from Hemerobian to Nyctalops life. You can see patterns in the entrails of your own city, and perhaps read portents into those patterns.

I don't have any dusk photos, but I can offer you this View of Albuquerque from Sandia Crest.

Daniel Otto Jack Petersen said...

Very nice meditation, Kevin, and very true. I love those vista-views.

I hadn't noticed this passage in Past Master before - it's a really quite lovely description and slightly more straight ahead s.f. fare (and none the worse for that - a breather in fact, ha!).

I'm impressed too that Laff seems to have fairly well mapped out Astrobe in his mind - he seems to have made a real planet with geography and ecology, again in somewhat traditional s.f. mode, which he usually eschews.

I'd love to see some artists and designers kind of work out all the details of planet Astrobe and visualise it into some consistent images and 'information'. Since the planet probably stands in for psychological-spiritual realities, I know it can't really be captured by such secondary group world-building means. But seeing the already well-crafted symbol further fleshed out would just enrich the symbolism I reckon.

'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)