Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Holont: Second Potentiality

A common human-Holont language is established swiftly and surely because the contemporary Holont have received a message from the future Holont telling them that human beings would arrive and how they would try to communicate: trans-temporal communication and circular causality paradox. Unfortunately, we are told this but are not otherwise told very much about what passes between the two kinds of beings.

It is suggested that thousands or millions of years must pass before galactic civilisation flowers as a result of interactions between organic and holontic cultures. Meanwhile, human beings, exploring, colonising and trading in interstellar space, hope to build holontic time communicators which, like James Blish's Dirac transmitters, will not only receive messages from the future but will also operate instantaneously in the present, making the universe one.

A sequel to Starfarers could have shown a utopia like that in Blish's "Beep" and The Quincunx Of Time, where starfarers, receiving messages describing themselves preventing disasters and presiding over a peaceful, expanding culture, then did prevent disasters and preside over a peaceful, expanding culture: cosmic circular causality.

9 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    Been reading your recent notes about Poul Anderson's STARFARERS with interest. I've also started rereading that book.

    I do have one quibble about your commends on the Holont/galactic civilization you speculatd about as a possible sequel by Anderson to STARFARERS. I am not at all certain such a society could ever come to pass even if the material/technological means were available. Because human beings are too flawed and imperfect to make an "ideal" society last forever.

    My view is that if Anderson had written a sequel to STARFARERS, he would very likely have found ingenious ways to show how strife and conflict would have arisen even in a Holont and human culture which was galaxy wide. Quite simply, Anderson did not believe human beings were perfect. Or that any society created by humans would last forever.

    Sean

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  2. Blish's THE QUINCUNX OF TIME is a good utopian novel. (Brian Aldiss wrote an Introduction to it as he did to Anderson's Brain WAVE.) I agree that in a sequel to STARFARERS PA would have thought of something different from what I suggest. Maybe THE CORRIDORS OF TIME and THERE WILL BE TIME show utopian futures?

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  3. Hi, Paul!

    Most likely, we only see the HOPEFUL, early beginnings of the "utopian" societies we see at the ends of THE CORRIDORS OF TIME and THERE WILL BE TIME. I am convinced that if Anderson had written further in the "timelines" of those books, we would have seen strife, conflict, decline and fall, etc., in those societies. Exactly as we saw happened to the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire.

    I'm sorry, as a Catholic, I remain totally skeptical and unconvinced of the possibility of merely human perfection in this life. A society which is not too bad is tough enough to achieve!

    Sean

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  4. Sean, 2 issues here, though: what you believe and what Anderson might have written. My feeling at the end of reading CORRIDORS and THERE WILL BE... is that the author has left us with good societies that this time will last. And I think that the terrestrial society in the last part of STARFARERS does not have to stagnate the way it does in the novel. Some at least would want to seek further and would have the means to do it.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      Problem is, I did not get the impression you got of the "utopian" societies we glimpsed as the end of CORRIDORS or THERE WILL... To me, these glimpses are best understood as being in the early stages of the new civilization. And I thought the stagnation found by the survivors of the "Envoy" expedition at the end of STARFARERS a very plausible possibility.

      Besides BRAIN WAVE, I can think of only one other case in Anderson's works where a long lasting "utopian" society is postulated: the Danellian "supermen" of the Time Patrol series. And we meet a Danellian for more than a brief moment only in the section called "Amazement of the World" in THE SHIELD OF TIME. Far more often, Anderson was skepical of all utopian dreams.

      Sean

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    2. Yes, I wasn't counting the Danellians because they are our evolutionary successors, post-human.

      The human race is diverse so I think that a liberation from material want would have different effects. Some would stagnate but others would say, "Now is our chance to explore the universe."

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    3. Hi, Paul!

      Granted, what you said about human "diversity." What I think will be more likely is that at any particular era or time, one civilization or more will be vigorously rising and expanding while others will be declining. Freedom from merely material want will not free us from the risk of folly and stupidity.

      Sean

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    4. Hi. I have been off Anderson for a while but have added to James Blish Appreciation. Still rereading The Winter Of The World.

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    5. Hi, Paul!

      As a parallelism, your recent notes about Anderson has gotten me off reading HG Wells to reread STARFARERS. (Smiles)

      Sean

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