Friday, 8 March 2013


In Poul Anderson's World Without Stars (New York, 1966), occasionally a group of people still wants to live on and belong to one stretch of a planetary surface at the bottom of a gravity well. They want land, "...nature and elbow room..." so they find and claim:

"...a habitable uninhabited world (statistically rare, but consider how many stars the universe holds)..." (p. 7)

Many science fiction readers will accept and pass over that statement but just think about what it implies. To find a suitable planet, the land claimers must travel to another star. We are used to that, in fiction. However, in the Terran Empire period of Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, extra-solar colonies are, with one exception, confined to a single spatial volume of a single spiral arm of the home galaxy. Later, mankind spreads through several spiral arms but that is as far as we see them go.

Here, on the first page of this novel, Anderson makes it clear that would-be colonists can search the universe for a star with a habitable uninhabited planet. As noted in earlier posts, when a spaceship has, by stages if necessary, matched its velocity to that of another galaxy, any other galaxy, then it can instantaneously jump to a predetermined point within that galaxy. That is a whole different ball game from mere interstellar travel, even when the latter is faster than light. And, as has also been noted, lifespans are indefinitely prolonged, ending only by accident or violence.

Either breeding reinforces the instinct to live on the land or "...the original parents remain culturally dominant over the centuries." (p. 7) The result is a scattered population of villagers and farmers who conserve their forests and oceans and who, in the case of Landomar, agree to a starport, called City, being built in orbit because they do not want one on the ground. The elders welcome the money of spacemen, who visit to hunt and sail, but dislike it when their youngsters visit and start to work in City. However, sociodynamicists extrapolate that, apart from the development of a few "...small space-oriented service enterprises...," the presence of City:

"...would never really affect their own timeless oneness with the planet." (p. 8)

Another planet, Awry, is described as:

"...a bucolic patriarchal settlement like Landomar." (p. 23)

One spaceman has a young daughter in City and a thirty year old from Awry becomes a spaceman. So, after three millennia of the antithanatic, people are still being born yet the population of Landomar remains "...scattered...," inhabiting farms and villages, not planetary cities (p. 7). Either the antithanatic reduces fertility or other measures are taken.

How many people would want to remain forever on one patch of land with the entire universe to explore? Some but not many, apparently.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I would think it's obvious why the population of planets like Landomar grows only slowly. The antithanatic reduces the pressure or desire many people might have for QUICKLY having children. If your life span is indefinitely extended, then many won't feel themselves in a hurry to have children. Result, slow population growth and long lasting social stability on many planets. Which also has the effect of preventing or slowing possible evolutionary changes.

    But this need not mean stagnation, in the unpleasant sense, if planets like Landomar also have starports like "City." Such towns would not only provide goods and services a wholly agricultural world could not provide, it would act as a safety valve attracting people who might otherwise be dissatisfied with a totally bucolic life. Such persons would either find jobs or professions at starports or ship out as crew on starships.


  2. Hi, Paul!

    I forgot to add in my previous comment that I think the situation described in the Technic History series more plausible than the fascinating speculation in WORLD WITHOUT STARS. That is, life spans can be extended, but not indefinitely; mankind might spread thru two or three arms of the Milky Way galaxy, but not the entire galaxy (or to other galaxies).

    Heck, I would be OVERJOYED if a FTL drive is invented opening up "merely" the parts of the galaxy seen in the eras of the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire!


  3. I question whether we would find easily colonisable planets or comprehensible aliens.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      And Poul Anderson would agree! Recall, in both the Technic History and WORLD WITHOUT STARS, planets where humans can live without needing elaborate technological life support systems are rare. And Anderson has more than once said that comprehension between humans and non humans won't be easy. Naturally, for story purposes, it was necessary for Anderson to suggest plausible ways how humans and non humans could come to some mutual understanding reasonably quickly.