Reading: Daybreak 2250 A.D. by Andre Norton, Part Five

starmansoncougarsmallReading this book, I am reminded of a conversation I ended up in with a gentleman concerning a post-apocalyptic book called Earth Abides. The conversation revolved around the problematic racist elements I found in the book. Earth Abides was written in 1949 and has certain racist assumptions and stereotypes concerning black people. I found the book to be problematic and the main character obnoxious, though I fell in love with one of the secondary characters. I was informed that I had completely failed to understand the point of the book and that the racist elements were totally forgivable since the book was written in the forties.

Star Man’s Son/Daybreak was written in 1952, only a few years later and has few/almost no stereotypes or racist elements. (The slightly horrible pseudo barbarian, “what even are contractions?” schtick does not count since everyone in the book talks this way.) In fact, one of the main themes of the book is about prejudice, and the need to work together to overcome obstacles. It is infused with a sort of youthful hopefulness about the future and the need to rebuild. (Which is one of the big reasons why I love Star Man’s Son and intensely dislike Earth Abides, because it’s the exact opposite.)

 Chapter Eleven: Drums Speak Loudly

 The lizards do not follow the saying that goes “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They seem pretty intent on finishing off Fors, Lura and Arskane. Fortunately, it turns out that these little lizard dudes share a language with the colony of little lizard dudes that used to live in the desert near Arskane’s former home. Arskane tries talking to the lizards in their own language, and this convinces the lizards to let them go. (Arskade later confesses he does not actually speak the language, though it seems that his attempt to imitate the language was enough.)

 After leaving and finding food, Arskane talks Fors into heading back to the lizard colony, in hopes of getting their gear back. The lizards are in the process of butchering the Beast Things and they have appropriated items that Fors had recovered from the museum in the city to create a shrine. Arskane is able to make a deal with the lizards and get Fors clothes and boots back.

 As they leave the colony a second time, they hear a signal drum. It brings very bad news about “death in the night.” They hear answering drums from the other scouts, except for Arskane (who is minus his drum) and a scout named Noraton. Even more ominously, Arskane and Fors spot circling buzzards.

 Chapter Twelve: Where Sweeps the Tides of War

 It turns out that Noraton is the reason for the buzzard party. He’s has been killed with a Plainsman’s lance. The scouts of Arskane’s tribe are sworn not to attack first when they are exploring and make contact with another human settlement or individual humans. Arskane states that Noraton was an extremely even-tempered man, and would have gone to great lengths to avoid a conflict. Arskade is quite understandably ticked at the Plains People.

Fors points out that the Plains People are extremely distrustful of strangers and might be viewing Arskane’s tribe’s migration as a threat to their way of life. Arskane is quite understandably less than sympathetic to this argument. He has officially Had Enough of the Plains People’s Bullshit. They dig a grave for poor Noraton and continue onward.

After some more walking, they are spotted by Plains warriors who promptly attack them. After a battle, Fors and Arskane are taken prisoner. This is a very, very bad situation for both of them. One of the warriors decides to be a jerk, prompting Fors to mouth off in response. (To be fair, the jerk’s horse had been hamstrung by Fors.) Fors gets knocked around but the bully’s playtime is averted by the leader of the party who scolds the bully for his dishonorable behavior.

We get some more details about Fors community and the community of the Plainspeople. It turns out that Fors tribe do not have very much of a musical tradition. The Plainspeople on the other hand have a strong musical tradition. (Their taste in music is very grim and blood thirsty however.)

It is pretty clear that the Plains People have a reason for taking both Arskane and Fors prisoner. When they are given food, Fors decides that he will attempt to trade on what he knows of Plains customs and hospitality laws. Fors and Arskane are then brought to the high chief of the tribe. The chief makes a comment to the effect that he recognizes that Arskane is of the tribe of southerners who has been fighting with the Plains tribes. Arskane responds with a “you started it,” argument, but the chief plainly does not care. He seems a lot more interested with Fors. The chapter ends with the chief asking Fors what tribe he is from.

Part Four | Part Six

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Filed under Andre Norton, apocalyptic, daybreak, Reading, science fiction

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