Sunday, 22 April 2012

Introductions and Developments

The opening six stories of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilisation introduce:

two organisations that will be important later, the Jerusalem Catholic Church and the Polesotechnic League;
the version of hyperspace to be used in this series;
two species that will be important later, winged Ythrians and dinosauroid Wodenites;
two less prominent species, inhabitants of Ivanhoe and extra-solar colonists of Mars;
three individuals who will be important later, the Wodenite Adzel and the human beings Nicholas van Rijn and David Falkayn;
the "Grand Survey" discoverers of other planets that will be re-visited later;
one planet, not yet named Avalon, that will be important later.

Thus, half a dozen short stories introduce a dozen aspects of the series. These six works are followed by:

five about van Rijn of the League;
six in which Falkayn works for van Rijn (in five, he leads a Trader Team including Adzel);
two further stories set during the League period;
two stories about the joint human-Ythrian colony on Avalon founded by Falkayn;
two stories introducing a third important organisation, the Terran Empire, rising from the ruins of the League;
one novel about Avalonian resistance to the Empire;
many volumes about the Empire and its opponents, the Merseians, who were introduced in a Trader Team story;
a last Empire-Merseians novel in which the Wodenite Axor has, like Adzel, converted to a Terrestrial religion, in this case Jerusalem Catholicism;
four works set in three different periods after the Empire.

It is remarkable that the History continues indefinitely, as it seems, through several successive, developing stages. The overall story goes somewhere. Seeds planted earlier grow later and sometimes flower later again. Narratives intersect, eg, Avalon and Empire, but there are others. Every end is a new beginning. However much is told, there is always more that could have been. The very last story potentially initiates a new sequence about a later form of interstellar organisation. The entire series is the longest most substantial single author future history in science fiction.

No comments: