Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Curious Parallelism

Two unrelated series by Poul Anderson had curiously parallel evolutions.

(i) Two very short future histories, "Maurai," three stories about sea traders, and "Kith," two stories about star traders, fitted into a single collection, Maurai and Kith, which turned out, when read, to be not about two groups interacting with each other but about two groups each existing in a different speculative future.

(ii) The Maurai series acquired a long novel and the Kith series acquired a third short story.

(iii) The entire period covered by the Maurai history was incorporated into the time travel novel, There Will Be Time, and the entire period of the Kith history was incorporated into the interstellar novel, Starfarers.

That is quite some parallelism, although presumably coincidental. In any projected Complete Works of Poul Anderson, I think that Maurai and Kith should be split up and that the two sequences should be read in their entireties. A Maurai trilogy would comprise first a collection of the original three Maurai stories, then the long Maurai novel, then the time travel novel. This would be a substantial reading experience surprising the reader twice with new perspectives. In There Will Be Time, one time traveler gives the time travel idea to HG Wells and another gives the Maurai idea, indirectly, to Poul Anderson.

Starfarers already incorporates two of the three Kith stories as chapters so it would simply be a matter of adding the remaining story as, e.g., an epilogue describing a long interstellar journey different from the one featured in the novel.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I found this note of yours rather puzzling as regards the Kith. I agree Poul Anderson incorporated "Ghetto" into STARFARERS, but "The Horn of Time the Hunter" was not made part of the book. So, I'm uncertain what your comment about a third Kith story means. Unless you simply had STARFARERS in mind.

    Also, while you are correct about the three Maurai stories including THERE WILL BE TIME in that "future history, you overlooked another book. ORION SHALL RISE also belongs to the Maurai timeline. But nothing in ORION mentions or alludes to THERE WILL BE TIME.

    That need not, in itself means an inconistency was created. THERE WILL BE TIME mentions only a very few Maurai being involved in that book's story. And they would naturally keep mum about the existence of time travelers. Also, they seem to come later in the Maurai timeline, after ORION SHALL RISE in terms of internal chronology.


    1. Sean, Sorry, I have not made myself sufficiently clear here. ORION SHALL RISE was what I meant by the long Maurai novel. And the Acknowledgements in my copy of STARFARERS state that Chapter XVII had first appeared as a story in Analog.