Friday, 20 September 2013


In Poul Anderson's The Byworlder (London, 1974), "Byworlders" live alternatives life styles to that of "Orthodox" society but what is the latter like?

Orthos are called "georges," staid taxpayer types (p. 10). Skip, a sigaroon, contrasts the Viking sea gypsies with Orthos:

"The average upper-class Orthian was doubtless more hard-driving, well informed, thoroughly trained, including in the new mental disciplines which could evoke effective genius from ordinary cerebral endowment; but he was also anomic, chronically anxious, inwardly alone: a sane and realistic logician, emotionally crazy as a hoot owl.
"The oldest Viking kept youthful spirits." (p. 80)

It sounds as if these two cultures need to be synthesized: the Ortho new mental disciplines with the Viking youthful spirits. The idea of genius-evoking disciplines is relevant to Anderson's The Long Way Home in which apologists for the computer-run Technate society dismiss their Commoners as having hopelessly low IQ's, even though the Technate meanwhile uses genetic engineering to ensure a high average IQ among its Ministerial class.

In view of changes made so far, I think that no part of the human condition should be regarded as unchangeable. Better diet, medicine, educational input and, if they are to be found, " mental disciplines...," like the training received by Anderson's Time Patrolmen, can draw out and enhance existing intellectual, practical or creative abilities that were previously left undeveloped in those who were thought not to need them.

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