Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wooden ships on the water very free and easy [Updated!]

In the Talking Ships episode of the Flóamanna Saga, the outlaws' galley staff are strangely blasé about their garrulous vessels. It all works better as a space opera (preferably written by R. A. Lafferty) with the help of a few judicious substitutions:
Now Þorgils' ship lay in a retired and harbourless creek Lagrangian point; and on one occasion he took his boat lander and rowed away towards land, where he saw men cooking porridge in pots. He had dressed himself in old clothes, and they asked him who he was.

"My name is Án," he said, and they laughed at him and his silly behaviour.

"Where is your chief?" he asked.
"A short way off on the island asteroid," they answered, "and he expects us back in the evening." They then behaved roughly to Þorgils, and he went back to his boat lander, which he capsized under him to their great amusement.

As they talked together of the matter, one said, "This looks strange;" and his fellow asked, "What mean you?"
"There is a man come into the settlement," he said, "by name Þorgils, tall and famous; and our chief will not go to the mainland planet because of him, for there hangs over us a change of luck. This morning when I went forth, I heard our ships conversing on it. The one we call Stakanhöfði was speaking to the other: 'Do you know, Vinagautr, that Þorgils will win us both?' 'Yea, I know it,' said the other, 'and I am well pleased.' "
"And I," said the man, "believe this will happen."
Þorgils now returned to his ship, and the outlaws at the same time rowed to their anchorage. When they had reached their hall, Þorgils and his men sailed forward to attack them; and coming upon them unawares, he had the building set on fire immediately.
The moral of the story is to turn off the communication link between your ship's bounded-autonomy guidance computer and the one in the next berth; otherwise quantum coupling will occur between their precognitive capacities, and before you know it they are all "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that," and "We believe that Þorgils is better-qualified to lead the mission to a successful conclusion."

Also there is probably a missing episode here where Þorgils lays out his plan of attacking the outlaws at 20:00 Zulu time when they will be docking at their base according to the latest decrypts (the outlaws are using a back-doored Crypto AG machine and observing poor crypto discipline with key re-use and cribs in the plain-text chatter). But his men say "Bugger that for a game of soldiers; they outnumber us according to traffic analysis and they have better weapons."

"How about this then?" says Þorgils. "Eavesdropping on the galley staff in the guise of Án the itinerant simpleton, I overheard them recounting a conversation between their ships, who were predicting victory for us."

"Ah, third-hand HUMINT, that's different! Why didn't you say that before? Of course we're with you!"

In related news, I cannot approve of beer-propelled spaceships however much they may be about a bicycle.


M. Bouffant said...

BÖC lyrics keep the sophisticates coming back, but that Jefferson Hairpie hippie crap can lead to organic porridge or worse.

Smut Clyde said...

They are wooden ships because of poor acting skills.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The fact is, this
asteroid is now under military occupation." He clicked his heels and bowed. "Permit me to introduce
meself. General Scourge of the Sassenach O'Toole, of the Shamrock League Irredentist—"

Massive shenanigans!

tigris said...

Has someone already used this "irredentistry is theft" joke? It looks awfully rumpled.

Smut Clyde said...

Smut Clyde said,
September 4, 2009 at 0:00
Irredentistry is THEFT!!

(cannot link due to host-changing and general shenanigans at S,N! archives)

Smut Clyde said...

Also I do not wish to hear about ITTDGY's massive shillelagh.