Sunday, 22 July 2012

Maurai In There Will Be Time

 I think that the best reading order for Poul Anderson's Maurai series is:

(i) the three short stories which are collected in Maurai And Kith but should now be a single volume, just Maurai;

(ii) the long (486 pages) novel, Orion Shall Rise;

(iii) the much shorter time travel novel, There Will Be Time.

In each volume, in fact in each individual work, the perspective broadens, first geopolitically, the historically. The Maurai rule in the Southern Hemisphere. Then we learn progressively more about the Northern Hemisphere: the Northwest Union; Uropa. Finally, the entire Maurai period is placed in a longer historical context. Jack Havig, born 1933, visits, among other eras, Constantinople in 1204, the Maurai Federation and the further future of the Star Masters.

I was surprised to realise that, despite my preferred reading order, Orion is copyright 1983 whereas Time is 1973. Thus, only the first three stories informed Time. In fact, Orion acquired the name of a character, Terai Lohannaso, and that of a country, the Northwest Union, from Time. The Domain of Skyholm did not exist until Orion.

Time both informs us that Poul Anderson invented the name "Maurai" for a future civilisation visited by Havig and continues to use that fictional name so there is a real history that we are not being told. In one of the three stories, Poul predicted something that Havig discovered later but he "...guessed wrong more often than right." p. 129.

Havig comments;

"If anybody who knows the future should chance to read this, it'll look at most like one of science fiction's occasional close-to-target hits...Which are made on the shotgun principle...These stories never had wide circulation. They soon dropped into complete obscurity." (p.129)

Let us hope not.

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