Thursday, 17 October 2013

Psychotechnic Chronology

"This was New America, chief city of Venus in 2051 A.D."

- Poul Anderson, "The Big Rain" IN The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981, pp. 201-280) AT p. 205.

"The Big Rain" is the fourth installment of Anderson's Psychotechnic History. This is the first (and maybe the only?) textual reference to a year date in the series.

The Chronology at the end of Volume III of the series is:

"Prepared by Sandra Miesel, based in part on the chronology published by Poul Anderson in Startling Stories, Winter, 1955. Many dates are approximate and the author is not bound by them."

- Starship (New York, 1982), p. 284.

So there may be three layers of dates:

any that are given in the texts - 2051 plus any others?;
any that were in Anderson's 1955 chronology;
any that may have been added in Miesel's 1982 Chronology -

- but, in any case, we are told that many are approximate and none are binding.

Miesel's Chronology contains:

2300 The Second Dark Ages
2784 Hyperdrive invented

Note the rounded nature of some, though not all, of the dates. A Dark Age, unlike a war, does not begin or end in a particular year. So what happened in 2600? Perhaps a restoration of civilization, enabling new technological innovations?

The stories were not published in their fictitious chronological order and it would have been impossible initially to recognize them as a series:

1950 2120 "Quixote and the Windmill"
1950 2875 "Star Ship"
1950 2815 "Gypsy"
1951 3000 "The Acolytes"
1953 post-4000 "The Chapter Ends"
1953 2004 "Un-Man"
1953 2009 "The Sensitive Man"
1953 2205 "The Troublemakers"
1954 3110 "Teucan"
1954 2051 "The Big Rain"
1955 2200 "What Shall It Profit?"
1956 3120 The Peregrine
1957 1964 "Marius"
1957 2270 "Brake"
1957 2140 "Holmgang"
1957 2180 "Cold Victory"
1957 3100 "Virgin Planet"
1968 3115 "The Pirate"

"Green Thumb" is set about 3000 but I do not know its publication date although I expect that it also was early '50's. Thus, apart from a single later addition, this is entirely a 1950's future history, what I call a "past future." "Green Thumb", according to an internet book review, is about human beings colonizing an extrasolar planet but maybe not recognizing that it is inhabited.

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