Fallen Angels (science fiction novel)

Fallen Angels (science fiction novel)

infobox Book |
name = Fallen Angels
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn
illustrator = Stephen Hickman
cover_artist =
country = USA
language = English
series =
genre = Dystopian science fiction
publisher = Baen
pub_date = 1991
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print and eBook
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0-7434-3582-6
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Fallen Angels" (1991) (ISBN 0-7434-3582-6) is a Prometheus Award-winning novel by science fiction authors Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn published by Jim Baen. The novel was written as a tribute to science fiction fandom, and includes many of its well-known figures, legends, and practices. An ebook of this text was among the first released by the Baen Free Library.

The novel takes aim at several targets of ridicule: Senator William Proxmire, environmentalists, and mystics, such as one character who believes that one cannot freeze to death in the snow because ice is a crystal and "crystals are healing." It also mocks the usage of environmentalist ideas in science education, which greatly helps the main characters (for example, one government "expert" cited in a news article believes that the astronauts must be superhumanly strong, based on a photograph of a "weightless" astronaut easily handling heavy construction equipment). Several real people are tuckerized into the book in a more positive light, including many fans that made donations to charity for that express purpose and a character called "RMS" (presumably Richard M. Stallman) that leads a network of hackers called the Legion of Doom, connected by a series of pre-Internet BBS systems.


The story features a future in which the environmentalist movement, joined with the religious right, has gained control of the earth's governments, imposing draconian luddite laws which, in an ironic effort to end global warming, bring about the greatest environmental catastrophe in recorded history - an ice age which may eventually escalate into a Snowball Earth.

The exact process is described: Rain is water condensation. This cannot occur without particulate matter in the atmosphere. The draconian emission laws have removed most of this, reducing rainfall throughout the world. With less rain, there is less cloud cover, meaning the ground loses heat faster. This in combination with the drop in greenhouse gases has resulted in an ice age - which is now self-perpetuating as glaciers have a much higher albedo.

As a radical Nazi-like Green Party of "Naderites" now controls the world's governments, this is described as "propaganda from life-hating technophiles", and blame for the ice age is instead solely placed on a society surviving in orbit. Science fiction fandom forms the core of a pro-technology underground in the United States, working in tandem with the Legion of Doom. Operating in a gray area, their colleagues and friends in the Society for Creative Anachronism work with the tacit support of the green-movement, in spite of considerable overlap between fandom and the SCA. Other technologists were accused by the government of pursuing "materialist science" were removed from their jobs and forced underground, where they were generally unable to continue their work.

As glaciers rapidly advance south, Canada and the northern United States are all but destroyed. Near the edge of the glaciers, the Twin Cities, barbaric feudal systems arise when the northern governments and markets collapse, leaving violence and disease in their wake. In orbit, Mir and Space Station Freedom survive in tandem with a Lunar colony, but with no support from Earth. Among fans and the general populace alike, the people of the space-based society are called Angels. The city of Winnipeg is the last major outpost of Canadian civilization, warmed and inhabitable due to immense amounts of solar power beamed from the space stations.

Plot summary

Astronauts from the orbital society flew a modified ramjet called a scoop ship, redesigned to harvest nitrogen from the Earth's atmosphere. As government policy declares that these ships are responsible for the ice age, the ramjet is shot down with a surface-to-air missile. The pilot and copilot, an Earth-born American named Alex MacLeod and a space-born Russo-American named Gordon Tanner, are forced to crash land in Canada atop the glaciers.

Upon hearing of this, the fan underground embarks on a rescue mission - a group of fans rides north through the Dakotas to rescue them before they can be apprehended by the Greens. Upon reaching the Dakotas, they must travel largely on foot, as their van is unable to traverse the glaciers. However, they have a major advantage over their foes in the government - their relationship with the space station provides them with superior navigational abilities; following the fall of scientific society, the United States Air Force (USAF) no longer enjoys access to satellite reconnaissance. They are able to reach the downed spacecraft well in advance of the USAF.

Their escape is aided in a similar manner. Though the Angels are unable to walk due to their overexposure to weightlessness and must be dragged behind them on sleds, the microwave power transmission beam reserved for Winnipeg is diverted to warm the travelers as they return south to their van. In addition, a tribe of nomadic Inuit peoples shares supplies with them in thanks for the warmth provided by the microwave beam.

Upon finally reaching their van, the fans flee to a small science fiction con of some 50 fans at a mansion owned by one of their own. Once there the fans teach the Angels various asanas from Yoga to help them adjust to Earth's gravity. At the con, the fans brainstorm a daring plan - before the Greens had came to power, one of the Board of Trustees for the Metropolitan Museum of Boston by the name of Ron Cole supposedly refurbished a Titan II rocket. This rocket still exists at the Museum of Science and Industry at Chicago. The fans and the Angels leave for Chicago just moments before the mansion is raided by the Greens.

The trip to Chicago gives the reader a brutally realistic depiction of American life without modern technology. A blizzard forces the fans to take shelter in a farm town - where at least one person dies in each blizzard for lack of heating oil as the Greens have banned oil drilling. Hitching a ride with a van full of cheese has the fans captured by small-town alderman who is burning the houses for heat. He has the food swapped with moonshine liquor and force the group into slavery to pay a series of trumped-up "fines". Only assistance from a fellow fan amongst their captors enables them to continue on to Chicago.

By the time they reached Chicago, their hopes are crushed. The rocket has been savaged by the museum's owners, and Cole is a shadow of his former self due to Green reeducation. However, Cole is able to put them on another path - a privately constructed single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft at Edwards Air Force Base, disguised by the simple and effective method of its designer, Gary Hudson, declaring it nonfunctional.

ee also

* Climate change in popular culture

External links

* [http://www.baen.com/library/067172052X/067172052X.htm Baen Free Library edition]

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