For those participating in the #VintageSciFiMonth Group Read of DORSAI! by Gordon R Dickson I hope you’ve been enjoying it! Hopefully you’ve had a chance to start reading and are ready to discuss!
Caution! Possible Spoilers!
This discussion covers Cadet through Force Leader II. I’m really interested in your thoughts! One question I have when reading a Vintage SciFi Book is do you see this as a possible future for humanity? In this case how homogenous do you think colonized planets would be? It seems in this future they are taking such different paths that they’ve started to evolve differently.
In the case of Donal what are your first impressions? Do you think he is odd? Would we realize that if the author didn’t tell us he was? I think we would. His interactions and the way he carries himself set him apart. Do you think he should have given that contract to William or destroyed it?
Are you enjoying the pacing? To me it feels like quick glimpses and that keeps it moving fast. It seems to make it accessible for me.
Any initial thoughts? How do you think this book will turn out? Observations? Looking forward to your input! 🙂
To answer your questions:
Science Fiction novels in which humans have populated the galaxy tend to make each planet homogenous. I.E. all people from Dorsai are warriors, those from Ceta are merchants. It bothered me at first, as it seems simplistic. Geography and natural environment have a huge impact on cultural development and any planet of note would have a variety of environments. However, If I compare it to America, it makes more sense. Within the States, we say things like “people from Georgia are all hicks, people from Boston drop the r in their words, people from Alaska think below freezing in normal” etc. We have our subgroups. But, when we go abroad, we’re American and we have a base set of characteristic that identify us as Americans – regardless of where in the US we come from.
So, as for Dorsai, they might be able to disguised differences among themselves, but once off planet, they would see homogenous to other cultures.
It’s also mentioned that some cultures use genetic manipulation. That makes sense to me and I can see humans doing that. As we gain that technology and as certain cultures value certain things, we will see “designer babies” that exemplify the valued characteristic of that culture. It’s forward-thinking of Dickson to put that into his story.
Donal didn’t seem odd to me and I won’t have known if the author hadn’t reiterated the fact. We hadn’t met enough other characters for comparison. He seemed the same as the other male characters from his family. He is young, brash and naïve, although clever, which makes for an interesting combination. I’m eager to see him mature. I have no opinion on the morality of him giving the contract back to William or destroying it, but he chose the logical route. He knows little about either character, really, so to choose the legal route was smart. He may regret it in the future, of course, but that makes for an interesting story.
My Initial Thoughts:
As I have a more-than-passing interest in women in science fiction, that tends to be what I notice. So far, I’m disappointed in the female representation. We don’t see enough of Donal’s mother to make any informed ideas about her and the lack of female members at the table with Donal sucks. In a warrior culture, it would be interesting to see women included – and if other planets/cultures had different ideas about women, it would add an interesting dynamic to the story, when these female Dorsai went out to hire.
As for Anea Marlivana, I hope she improves, that she had more intelligence that she appears, and that the insipid behavior, in particular with Hugh, is a ruse. Women in science fiction novels, pre-1980s, tend to fit into four categories: whore/vamp/siren, virgin/paragon/damselindistress,mother/matriarch, or barbarian/butchwarrior/manlikefemale. Anea, particularly with her statement about being genetically designed to be unable to cheat or lie, seems to be in the virgin/paragon/damselindistress. Donal’s assertion that she should demonstrate higher intelligence gives me hope that we will see that soon.
As for Donal and his adventures, I’ve enjoyed the twist-n-turns so far, the battle in the trees (I love clever action) and he seems like a smart hero, with a brashness and a pride that make him flawed enough to feel real.
William of Ceta is shaping up to be a fine villain, as well, and I’m a sucker for a shrewd bad-guy.
Over all, I’m eager to see where the story goes! ~ L
I hadn’t thought of how diverse we are regionally in the US yet when we go abroad we’re just considered as from the US! That’s an excellent point!
I sadly think that the female characters in this series play secondary roles to the males as objects to develop the character of the men.
I’m so glad you joined in on the read and really appreciate your thoughts! 🙂