Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Serious Issues

The purpose of this blog was simply to express appreciation of Poul Anderson's fiction. However, like all good novelists, Anderson addressed some serious issues about society and humanity. As well as enjoying the fiction, we can appreciate his discussion of these issues and can engage in the discussion. See in particular my responses to Anderson's excellent political science fiction novel, Mirkheim: "Issues in Mirkheim" (April, '12) and "Something Is Rotten In Technic Culture?" (April '12) (see here).

In "Interstellar Wealth" (April, '12), I meant merely to quote a few passages in which Anderson's readers vicariously enjoy the vast wealth, on an interstellar scale, of characters like Nicholas van Rijn. However, in The Game Of Empire, one character asks this serious question: with technology that could make every living being rich, why fight? In the concluding section of The Boat Of A Million Years, Anderson shows a society where everyone is rich by our standards but other problems arise. (See here.)

In "Starfog," Daven Laure, a Ranger of the Commonalty, says that economic planning is impossible for a continent, let alone a galactic spiral arm. In "The Commonalty" (April, '12), I agree with him about the spiral arm but not about the continent. He also claims that the people of the Commonalty do not get into wars. I think that this makes sense on their vast interstellar scale but, if Anderson had written more in this Technic History future history series, we might have seen otherwise.

Really ultimate questions emerge in the Harvest of Stars tetralogy and the novel Genesis:

human-AI interaction;
post-human AI (see "Organic and Post-Organic," April '12);
if humanity were extinct, would it be morally right for a higher intelligence to re-create living humanity with all its conflict and suffering?;
can intelligence survive the heat-death of the universe?

Those might be the most ultimate questions that we can think of as yet.

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