Friday, October 15, 2010

Traveller's Appendix N: Ensign Flandry

Though it may exist, i'm unaware of a Traveller version of "Appendix N" -- a recommended reading list, providing a list of authors whose works inspired the development of our favorite science fiction role playing game.

I've mentioned in the past that I was fortunate to come across a large collection of old paperback fiction. Not all of it was of the swords and sorcery variety. I also obtained some old science fiction novels from the 60's and 70's. One of those novels was Ensign Flandry, by Poul Anderson, which was published in 1966. This is not the first published Flandry novel, but comes earliest in the chronology of the series.

If a Traveller Appendix N does exist, I imagine Poul Anderson's Flandry series ranks as one of the more significant inspirations. Here are a selection of quotes from Ensign Flandry, which may have been inspirational to the Traveller designers.

"Everyone knows the Empire was won and is maintained by naked power, the central government is corrupt and the frontier is brutal and the last organization with high morale, the Navy, lives for war and oppression..."

"The sky illumination had now formed a gigantic banner overhead, the sunburst alive in a field of royal blue..."

"They crowded into the flier. It was a simple passenger vehicle which could hold a score or so if they filled the seats and aisle and rear end. Flandry settled himself at the board and started the grav generators."

"People say 'hyperdrive' and 'light-year' so casually. They don't understand. A series of quantum jumps, which do not cross the intervening spaces, therefore do not amount to true velocity and are not bound by the light-speed limitation..."

"'Lord Hauksberg is continuing to Merseia in another couple of days,' said Commander Max Abrams, of the Imperial Naval Intelligence Corps. 'I'm going along in an advisory capacity, so my orders claim. I rate an Aide. Want the job, Ensign?' Flandry goggled. 'You've shown yourself pretty tough and resourceful. A bit of practical experience in Intel will give you a leg up, if I can convince you to transfer to the Intelligence Branch.'"

"The starship Dronning Margrete was not of a size to land safely on a planet. Her auxiliaries were small spaceships in their own right. Officially belonging to Ny Kalmar, in practice, a yacht for whoever was the current viscount. She did sometimes travel in the Imperial service: a vast improvement with respect to comfort over any Naval vessel. Now she departed orbit and accelerated outward on gravitics. Before long she was clear enough into space that she could switch over to hyperdrive."

"The ship whispered. Powerplant, ventilators, a rare hail when crewmen passed each other in the corridor."

"'Come, come,' Hauksberg said. 'A galactic government is impossible. It'd collapse under its own weight. We've everything we can do to control what we have, and we don't control tightly. Local self-government is so strong, most places, that I see actual feudalism evolving within the Imperial structure.'"

Well I could go on, but I think you see the picture. The Ensign Flandry series is not the only science fiction source from which GDW may have drawn, but it certainly captures the flavour of many of the Traveller game elements, such as character generation, assumed setting, equipment, organization, starship design, and government and nobility.

Edit: You can find a recommended reading list from Space Frontiers on Dennis' What a horrible night to have a curse blog.

16 comments:

jonhendry2 said...

I'll put in another recommendation of Iain M. Banks' "Against A Dark Background" as having a tone much like a Traveller campaign.

Reaction mass in spacecraft, aristocracy, business and lawyers in control, a planet in the system mostly covered by a giant plant, a remote rural kingdom that eschews technology and carries on a quasi-medieval lifestyle, plots to steal valuable artifacts, a long-gone prior civilization that left higher-tech artifacts behind. Lots of good stuff.

The main thing that makes it un-Traveller-like is that the system in which the book is set is described as being far distant from any other inhabited system, so it hasn't been contacted and hasn't developed any faster-than-light transportation. So they travel between worlds in-system, but no farther.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Interesting, what is its publish date?

Lord Gwydion said...

Star Frontiers has an inspirational reading list, and Anderson's Flandry novels are on the list.

If I don't forget, when I finish work I'll post it for you.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Lord Gwydion said...
Star Frontiers has an inspirational reading list, and Anderson's Flandry novels are on the list.

If I don't forget, when I finish work I'll post it for you.


Cool.

Lord Gwydion said...

It's pretty long, so I put it up on my blog:

http://lordgwydion.blogspot.com/2010/10/star-frontiers-version-of-appendix-n.html

Bluebear Jeff said...

In my mind the real SF seed for Traveller is Andre Norton's "Solar Queen" novels (the first few were published in the 1950s under the pen name of "Andrew North".

The stories of the tramp trader "Solar Queen" just about HAVE to have been a major inspiration:

Sargasso of Space (1955)
Plague Ship (1956)
Voodoo Planet (1959)
Postmarked the Stars (1969)
various titles with co-authors in '90s


-- Jeff

James Maliszewski said...

Traveller had a lot of influences on it, but, by my lights, the biggest were the aforementioned Flandry stories by Anderson (the concept of the Long Night comes from here), H. Beam Piper (whose Swords Worlds are dropped right into the Spinward Marches), and E.C. Tubb's Dumarest books (where fast/slow drugs and High/Middle/Low passage originate). There are myriad other inspirations, of course, but those are among the most significant.

Brutorz Bill said...

Loved the Flandry series back in the day. Gonna have to reacquire it now! : )

ckutalik said...

Got to throw in Jack Vance there. Demon Princes and the Planet of Adventure stories were explicitly mentioned by the game's creators.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Bluebear Jeff said...
In my mind the real SF seed for Traveller is Andre Norton's "Solar Queen" novels. The stories of the tramp trader "Solar Queen" just about HAVE to have been a major inspiration:

Thanks for the suggestion. I've got some Norton, and will have to re-acquaint myself with her scifi!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

James Maliszewski said...
Traveller had a lot of influences on it, but, by my lights, the biggest were the aforementioned Flandry stories by Anderson (the concept of the Long Night comes from here), H. Beam Piper (whose Swords Worlds are dropped right into the Spinward Marches), and E.C. Tubb's Dumarest books (where fast/slow drugs and High/Middle/Low passage originate). There are myriad other inspirations, of course, but those are among the most significant.

I have Piper's Space Vikings, is that where the Sword Worlds are drawn from? No E.C. Tubb in my collection, will have to keep my eyes open for that.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Brutorz Bill said...
Loved the Flandry series back in the day. Gonna have to reacquire it now! : )

If you're patient, you should be able to obtain them for a song.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

ckutalik said...
Got to throw in Jack Vance there. Demon Princes and the Planet of Adventure stories were explicitly mentioned by the game's creators.

I've got some of his Alastor series, but havn't had a chance to read them yet.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Yes, H. Beam Piper's Sword Worlds are definitely referenced. It's been a while, so I'm not sure if they are from "Space Viking" (a ripping good read, by the way) or "Cosmic Computer" or both or something else he wrote.

Paladin -- Norton wrote a very wide range of books. The Solar Queen ones I referenced are the ones I was thinking of . . . although many of her other SF books (as opposed to her Fantasy titles) may well have contributed.


-- Jeff

jonhendry2 said...

"Interesting, what is its publish date?"

1993, so clearly not a real 'Appendix N' entry. Just a modern author with a story that, as I was reading it, gave me a strong impression that it seemed like a Traveller campaign.

David said...

Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the recommendation!