Monday, 19 August 2013

Kipling & Co

Poul Anderson's collection, All One Universe (New York, 1997), includes articles on three individuals:

Johannes V Jensen;
Rudyard Kipling;
John W Campbell.

Unexpectedly, they "cross over." First, Anderson quotes Jensen's description of Kipling after interviewing him, although I am not sure what Jensen meant by describing Kipling's head as "...not large but singularly full..." (p. 156).

Secondly, the article on Campbell mentions the Campbell school of science fiction writers, including Robert Heinlein. Heinlein wrote detailed descriptions of fictitious futures. Anderson tells us that Kipling did this in his sf story, "As Easy as ABC," "...with the same eye for detail as would later distinguish the work of Robert Heinlein." (p. 157) I have read very little Kipling but have liked what I read although my reading has not included "As Easy as ABC."

Anderson also replies to George Orwell's criticisms of Kipling. Thus, we have now referred to three writers of technological dystopias:

in 1984, television is used to spy on the population;
in "If This Goes On -," television is used to fake miracles for a religious dictatorship;
in "As Easy as ABC," I gather, "...technology driv[es] the evolution of the managerial society..." (ibid.)

Pretty smart stuff.

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