Saturday, 10 August 2013
I am enjoying the experience of reading a Poul Anderson novel for the first time, especially since this is the last time that I ever will. I have read as far as p. 200, of 300, in For Love And Glory (New York, 2003) so I cannot yet comment on the book as a whole.
So far, and this could change, the novel has confounded any expectations:
the guy who we thought would be the villain becomes instead a sympathetic character (in this respect, although not in any other, he resembles Mr D'Arcy of Pride And Prejudice);
neither the Gargantuan who resembles a Wodenite nor the issue of the Forerunners remained on-stage for very long;
the collision between two massive black holes has come and gone without as yet any dramatic cosmic repercussions (there was a description of the explosion but the main narrative emphasis was on its consequences for the characters);
the heroine and the guy who is not the villain are back together looking for a lost friend down on a planetary surface;
there have been hints of human-AI interaction on Earth but no details as yet;
there are interstellar, inter-species politics but no wars or imperialism;
in fact, life seems to be quite relaxed in accordance with the extended lifespans of the human characters - every time they rejuvenate to the physical age of twenty, they begin a new "cycle";
there has been a threatened space battle but no hostilities as yet;
no fisticuffs, characters held at gun-point, escaping, being pursued etc.
Christianity survives not as the Jerusalem Catholic Church of Anderson's Technic Civilization History but as Neocatholicism and Josephanism (p. 169).
Comments on the macro-relationships between some future histories might be appropriate:
Isaac Asimov wrote the Robots and Empire future history and created Isaac's Universe;
Poul Anderson incorporated his own two Isaac's Universe stories in changed form into For Love And Glory and wrote, among others, the Technic Civilization future history.
Thus, Robots and Empire, Isaac's Universe, FLAG and the Technic History are four distinct series, of which I can vouch for the quality and readability of the third and fourth. (FLAG is presented as a single novel but nevertheless incorporates two originally separate stories and its narrative structure is episodic.)