Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Etienne Fourre

The future that we try to imagine is being formed now. One way to show this in speculative fiction is to present a character in a near future scenario who shares a past with the author and his readers. Thus, in Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, Etienne Fourre:

in World War II, was in the French Resistance;
in World War III, liaised with the European undergrounds;
after World War III, was chief of the Maquisard Brotherhood, therefore also French representative in the Supreme Council of United Free Europe;
in the Years of Hunger, fought with the liberals against the neofascists;
in the Years of Madness, fought with the gendarmerie against the atomists;
ran a spy system that supressed the Great Jehad;
fought with UN troops in the Near East;
became head of the UN Inspectorate secret service;
engineered a successful coup against the anti-UN Argentinian government;
thwarted a faked Mongolian revolution;
had the Chinese dictator assassinated;
initiated the Rostomily Brotherhood.

Fourre first appeared as head of the secret service in "Un-Man" (1953), then as chief of the Maquisard Brotherood in the prequel, "Marius" (1957). "Marius", although set in the near future, presents the all too familiar environment of a war-torn Europe as a prelude to the high tech future of subsequent stories.

Fourre, appearing only twice, is a seminal figure, remembered centuries later:

"'Times have changed. If Fourre were alive today, he would agree that action is necessary.'
"'It's always convenient to use a dead man for a character witness, isn't it?'
"'What?'
"'Never mind.'" (Cold Victory, New York, 1982, p. 254)

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