|A farm atop the Great Orme,|
in Wales, England.
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to colonize another planet? I think it would have been a lot like those who settled the United States. Most likely, those who traveled to a distant planet or solar system would have brought with them everything they needed, but far less than everything they wanted. Tomorrows settlers might bring power tools and equipment to cut down trees for lumber or to make concrete, but if they wished to be self-sufficient, they would still need to start growing their own food before they developed their manufacturing industries.
Life would be simpler than life today for those who wished to start their own farms or settle a small town. In his novel The Reality Dysfunction, Peter F. Hamilton introduces us to settlers who land on the planet Lalonde. One leader is Gerald Skibbow, who wants to instill in his children and community the simple values he believes worth preserving. He's a hard, strong man, much like the Pilgrims and Puritans who settled America, who saw only corruption in the overcrowded arcologies of Earth. He grows disappointed in Father Horst Elwes, when the Christian priest who accompanies them demonstrates a weak-willed personality. Still, with the help of his fellow settlers and the Ivets, Skibbow believes they can create the society he desires. Perhaps like some of the Indentured Servants who traded transportation to North America for a period of slavery, the Ivets were convicted criminals. Rather than languish in prison on Earth, they opted to start over again on Lalonde. Gerald Skibbow expects them to repay their debt to society by plowing fields and helping to build their little town along the river. Unfortunately, he wasn't counting on the defiant Quinn Dexter, a man who belongs to the Light Bringer cult, and whose will is easily a match for Gerald Skibbow.
It was a similar mix of strong, forceful characters that drew American actor Ed Harris to Appaloosa by Robert B. Parker. He took the novel along on a horse-riding vacation in Ireland, and after reading a few chapters decided he wanted to bring Parker's story to the big screen. Such was his love for the project that Harris ended up not just playing Virgil Cole, but also directing and producing the movie.
If you ask me, it's not just Virgil Cole who's a strong, forceful character, but Ed Harris as well. More on this Friday.
P.S. Peter F. Hamilton is a strong, forceful character too. He's soft-spoken and thoughtful, just like Virgil Cole, but he doesn't wear a gun.