Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Among Thieves

In Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization History, Technic Civilization is represented by the Terran Empire whose capital city, called Archopolis, is in North America and whose dominant language is Anglic.

In Anderson's "Among Thieves," Civilization is represented by the Terrestrial Federation whose capital city, called Capital City, is in Africa and whose dominant language is Tierrans.

Thus, even in this early (1957) story, Anderson made his recurrent point that different regions of Earth will become dominant in the future.

In "Among Thieves" (Strangers From Earth, London, 1965), the faster than light drive is not hyper-spatial but "...nonspatial..." (p. 185). What do the ships fly through if not through some kind of space? In later works, Anderson always made a point of rationalizing his uses of sf cliches like FTL drives.

One planetary population of extra-solar colonials has mutated into extreme xenophobes with whom no peace is possible. Thus, they are not aliens but have become alienated.

Anderson, through a character, cites a long list of historical examples in which a small border state guarded the approach to a larger civilization but then turned against that civilization, sometimes in cahoots with the barbarians whom it had been keeping at bay:

Assyria and Mesopotamia;
Rome and Greece;
Wales and England;
Tartars and Persia;
Prussia and Western Europe.

This seems to be happening here. However, this is the kind of early sf in which a clever individual can turn the tables with a secret plan so the marchmen ally with the barbarians only to attack them from within. Happy ending.

Now I really must get back to reading some Latin.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Regrettably, Anderson never told us where exactly on Terra he located Archopolis, the capital of his Terran Empire. So, Archopolis might not be located in North America. I've sometimes wondered if the "centrum" of the Empire was located in Constantinople. That city is probably as close to the center of Earth as it's possible to be (being located in or close to Europe, Asia, and Africa).

Anderson DID locate the HQ of the Imperial Navy, Admiralty Center, in the Rocky Mountains of North America. Perhaps approximately in the current US state of Colorado?


Paul Shackley said...

I assumed HQ in Archopolis. Maybe not, though.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

No, Admiralty Center is definitely not in or near Archopolis. The clearest descriptions we have of Admiralty Center can be found in Chapter II of THE REBEL WORLDS and Chapter VI of WE CLAIM THESE STARS. The text in WE CLAIM THESE STARS calls Admiralty Center a city in its own right.