Friday, 6 September 2013
Interim Report On "No Truce With Kings"
This story, "No Truce With Kings" (Winners, New York, 1981), makes the same point as the same author's "Details." In both stories, aliens, active on Earth but concealing themselves from humanity, try to direct history by applying to it a mathematically rigorous psychodynamic science (Asimovian "psychohistory"), here also called "'...the Great Science...'" (p. 24) and, also in both stories, the actions of individual human beings upset the apple cart of the aliens' machinations.
Moral: mankind is not manipulable.
Differences between the stories are that:
(i) "Details" deals with twentieth century history whereas "No Truce With Kings" deals with the long aftermath of a nuclear war;
(ii) the aliens of "Details" are humanoid enough to pass as Terrestrials whereas those in "No Truce...," when finally exposed, are not.
Conspiracy theorists present the secret manipulators of global society as virtually omnipotent whereas Anderson's aliens, conferring whenever their plans are thrown off course, reveal their limitations to the reader:
"'...the Great Science is only exact on the broadest scale of history. Individual events are subject to statistical fluctuation.'" (pp. 24-25)
Also, their interstellar travel is limited to below light speed. Thus, this story avoids the further sf cliche of "FTL," faster than light space travel.