Araminta Station


Araminta Station is the first of a trilogy (The Cadwal Chronicles) by Jack Vance. The story is “science fiction” set in the far future when humans have started spreading to many Earth-like planets such as Cadwal, the home planet of Glawen Clattuc. Glawen is the main character in the story, a young man who must save Cadwal from impending catastrophe.

Cadwal is a world with a complex ecosystem that includes some “tribes” of nearly human animals. Centuries before Glawen’s time the planet Cadwal was designated a nature preserve. The impending catastrophe is that Cadwal might now be over-run by humans with disastrous consequences for the native lifeforms.

The interesting thing about Vance’s stories in The Cadwal Chronicles, his Demon Princes series and the Alastor Cluster novels is that so little has changed in the future that Vance imagines. There is no “technological singularity” in this future history. Glawen enjoys sailing as much as traveling between the stars.

No singularity. Why not? In the Demon Princes series, Vance included “The Institute”, a powerful organization that protects humanity against self-destruction due to damaging technological innovations. If we were in Hollywood, we would be forced to worry about the danger of humans running into technologically advanced aliens. This is not a probelm until you get to Vance’s Durdane series, and even then the aliens are basically at the human level of technological development.

Occasionally Vance mentions a world where there are remnants of a lost civilization, possibly that of an alien species that long ago destroyed itself…or moved on to bigger and better things. How long ago? In The Star King, Vance mentions the idea that some humans were taken off of Earth about 100,000 years ago and transplanted to another planet. Transplanted by who? Vance never explains.

I like the idea that Earth was visited long ago by aliens, alien beings who could not resist hauling away a few humans for genetic engineering, domestication or who knows what. In Apollo 23, there are aliens who want to keep themselves hidden from those of us who live on Earth. The aliens use time travel to destroy the “Olmec Reality” and protect humanity from destroying itself.

I also like the idea that such aliens would want to protect the rich ecosystems of planets like Earth. Maybe there are such aliens at work behind the scenes of Araminta Station, aliens who make sure that Glawen saves the day and Cadwal…and gets the girl.

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