Saturday, 30 June 2012

Series Within Series

In the 1960's, I read "The Game Of Glory," about Dominic Flandry, and "The Sky People," about the Maurai, in different issues of a British reprint version of Venture Science Fiction magazine. Little did I suspect that "The Game Of Glory" was part of a Flandry series that was part of the History of Technic Civilization that was one of several (I suggest there are eight) Anderson future histories, also including the Maurai series.

Later works placed the Maurai in an even wider context. First, an Author's Note at the beginning of the Maurai novel, Orion Shall Rise, explains inconsistencies with earlier Maurai stories by pointing out that new data and insights change our ideas about the past and present so why not also the future? Secondly, the time travel novel, There Will Be Time, changed the status of the Maurai series from that of fiction to that of a fiction within the fiction. A time traveler told an Anderson about the Maurai and Poul wrote a fictional account.

Robert Heinlein wrote the original Future History and three classic self-contained circular causality stories. An obvious question is: if one author writes both a future history and some time travel stories, can he connect or combine them? Can time travelers travel not only through real history but also through the fictitious history? Unfortunately, Heinlein's answer to this question was Time Enough For Love, which belongs firmly in the period of his long, sad decline as a writer. (One admittedly ingenious passage describes how Lazarus Long sent mail from the early twentieth century to his folks back in the far future. Envelopes inside envelopes were stored in a safe place like a lawyer's office until a specified date when the outer envelope was opened and its contents sent to another hopefully safe place but in such a way that no one handling the mail could suspect that its sender knew something about the future. Each link in the chain was strong enough for this to work. Also neatly handled were changes in historical perspectives. People around Lazarus referred to the then current "War." Later it would be called the Great War, then World War One, then Terran Planetary War, Phase One.)

Anderson did not connect his main future history, the Technic History, to his time travel series, the Time Patrol, but did connect his minor Maurai history to a time travel novel, thus locating the Maurai period within a much longer perspective of past and future history. Again, I argue that Anderson succeeded but also superseded Heinlein.

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