Wednesday, January 29, 2020

More Traveller Literary Inspiration - Treasure on Thunder Moon

Treasure on Thunder Moon
By Edmond Hamilton
Published in Amazing Stories, 16 #2, April 1942
This world is a Red Zone. Literally.
I’ve read and posted about other works by Edmond Hamilton (here and here). Once again I find his work to be a breezy and enjoyable read, if one doesn’t peer too closely at the ‘science’ underneath.

Treasure on Thunder Moon is the most Traveller pulp sci-fi novel I have read to date. Let me count the ways this sounds familiar . . .

The main character is John North (a reference to Northwest Smith?), a 37 year old retired Space Officer. He’s currently out of a job and looking for work. His gang of friends is in the same boat – they’re all too old to work for the Company that monopolizes space travel. They’re living at the scraping-by level in one of Earth’s starport towns hoping to get lucky.

North, Peters, Steenie, Dorak, Hansen, Connor, Whitey. We have our crew of PC veterans. These guys are not in their 60’s and 70’s, but in their 30’s & 40’s.

Starport, check. Looking for Patrons? Check. Long-term subsistence? Check.

The luck arrives in the form of a young woman who happens to be the daughter of an old pal of theirs. She wants their help, to crew a ship. Her destination is Oberon, one of the four moons of Uranus. The plan is collect a treasure that her father discovered but couldn’t recover.

Now we’ve got a Patron, and a Rumor.

Friday, January 17, 2020

On the Pursuit of Noble Titles

More Thoughts on Noble Titles

In an essay titled “Courting Dishonor” in The New Criterion January 2020 issue, author Simon Heffer writes:
“Some people angle desperately for letters to put after their name, or even better, a title before it . . .”

I've spent lots of time thinking about how to get a noble title or into the society of the rich & powerful, at least for my PCs. I've written about it here, here, here, here , and here.

The New Criterion essay made me think about a way of getting a Noble title that I had not considered before. The PC who finds that he has a lot of cash (up into the MCr range) can just BUY a title. Go to the sovereign of some world with a Pr trade code and offer a wad of cash. In exchange you get the right to style one's self Baron of Somewhere or other.

In England, a Baronetcy had no political authority vested in it. It was a title paid for with cash, which means only the wealthy could get it. A Baronet could brag of having a title (like a certain Percy Blakeney, Bart.) which he could pass on. Whatever other benefits accrued were social not material. The king, on the other hand, got a big cash infusion.

Ian Fleming's novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service involved a villainous character trying to get a patent of nobility. The claim was spurious, but the villain thought he could do it through bribery and deception. I don't recall what further villainy he intended to do from there. Though the PCs wouldn't think of using a title as a pretext for crime. Right?

How far would you go to get this estate?

I have written a bit about the idea of social promotion but always from the perspective as SOC promotions coming as the result of real effort – as a reward for success.