Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Murder And Psychodynamics

The latest news from here is that Poul Anderson's Murder In Black Letter is available from Amazon for £144.00 - more than I am willing to spend on a single book. I need someone to give me a grant to research Poul Anderson! (But I am not asking readers of this blog to contribute!)

Meanwhile, however, Anderson's Psychotechnic Future History remains eminently worthy of discussion. Baen Books left a big hole in the History when they did not include "The Snows of Ganymede" in their 1980's uniform edition of the series. In "Snows," Planetary Engineers travel to the outer Solar System to study the feasibility of terraforming Ganymede and Callisto. In "Brake," set fifty years later, an Engineer travels to the outer System with machines to terraform Europa.

These two stories could be collected as a single volume to be called The Order Of Planetary Engineers. References in "Brake" to the Engineers' castle on the rim of Archimedes Crater and to the curiously named University of X on Ganymede make some sense after reading "Snows."

In "Brake," Anderson, wanting to inform his readers that Terrestrial society is rapidly descending towards the Second Dark Ages, makes Captain Banning refer, first, to the conflict between Oriental Kali worshipers and Occidental protechnological Puritans and, secondly, to three complicating factors:

Kali worshipers are only one branch of the Ramakrishian Eclectics;
many Asians support Technic civilization just as some Americans worship Kali;
there are also Husseinite Moslems and a New Christendom.

This all sounds a bit ad hoc and in fact there are no stories set on Earth in this period so we do not see the Kalists, Technics etc in conflict. They are referred to only here. But the point is made that Earth is in very bad shape.

Before the two Planetary Engineers stories, "Holmgang," "Cold Victory" and "What Shall It Profit?" could be collected as The Humanist Revolution: before and after. That would leave six other pre-FTL stories as maybe something like After World War III?


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I don't think all copies of MURDER IN BLACK LETTER costs 144 pounds. I checked Amazon UK in the US, and a book seller is offering a copy for "only" 38.69 pounds. That's still rather dear, I know, being about $60.00 US (plus u have to factor in shipping and postage). Also, I grant that this copy is rather poor, being described as a some what beat up ex library copy.


  2. Hi,
    Still rather dear, indeed! We will keep looking, though.