Thursday, 28 November 2013

Earthman's Burden

OK. I am starting to read Earthman's Burden by Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson (New York, 1979). I have owned copies of this book and of its companion volume, Hoka (New York, 1985), for a very long time but do not think that I have read either of them right through.

Hoka's Prologue is presented as an excerpt from the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica, although this is presumably not the Encyclopedia of that name that was published on the planet Terminus during the decline of Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire. In Anderson's and Dickson's fictitious future, there is not a human Empire but an Interbeing League. The excerpt contains the kind of planetary information that forms the background of sf works of this sort.

Thus, the planet Toka, Brackney's Star III, about 503 light years from Sol, is superficially Earth-like but with three small moons and two intelligent species, quasi-mammalian ursoid Hokas and reptiloid Slissii. However, the latter leave Toka to become interstellar wanderers as soon as the opportunity arises with the arrival of human explorers and thus also of League influence.

"...the Hokas are the most imaginative race of beings in known space, and doubtless in unknown space too." (Hoka, p. 8)

The phrase "known space" is used here, in Anderson's Technic Civilization future history and in Larry Niven's Known Space future history. I do not know where it appeared first.

Hokas not only play roles individually and collectively but also stay in role to the extent of creating "...an implausible kaleidoscope of harlequin societies..." (op. cit., p. 9)

Whether I am about to enjoy reading about these "...demon teddy bears..." (ibid.) remains to be seen.

9 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I hope you have fun reading the Hoka stories co written by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson. It's my belief that not all SF needs to be sternly serious all the time, and that some room should be made for humor and comedy. That was what the authors desired to do in their Hoka stories. And, from time to time you do see serious ideas mentioned or discussed in these stories.

In addition, Sandra Miesel wrote an essay commenting on these stories, albeit she did so in a sardonic mock academic manner meant to satirize left wing academic writing. Last, besides the stories in EARTHMAN'S BURDEN and HOKA!, Anderson and Dickson wrote a novel, STAR PRINCE CHARLIE, set in the same time line as the Interbeing League.

Sean

ndrosen said...

My sentiments exactly.

Regards, Nicholas

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas!

Many thanks! And the Hoka stories were not the only ones where you can find SF humor by Poul Anderson. His THE MAKESHIFT ROCKET was a real laugh riot!

And I thought Nicholas van Rijn's mangling of Anglic and malapropisms was funny too!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Both,
Thank you. I must get STAR PRINCE CHARLIE.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Anytime! While there are moments of comedy in STAR PRINCE CHARLIE, it also deals with serious ideas.

Btw, may I ask you a question? Can you remember IF I submitted a note for your blog discussing the possible inconsistency of the Terran Empire's Naval Intelligence Corps discovering Aycharaych was a "universal" telepath in THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN and agents as senior as Dominic Flandry NOT knowing that rather important bit of information in "Honoable Enemies," set about five years later? I've been searching your blog archives looking for it, with no luck. I did discuss this issue in comboxes, but I'm almost sure I expanded those comments for a note posted here.

Since you are going to be away, no rush!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
You certainly did. If you keep looking, you'll find it. Otherwise, I will. It's hard to find a particular post among so many but that one is definitely in there.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Many thanks! IF I still can't find that note I wrote in a reasonable time, I'll ask for help. Just have to keep looking!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

"An Unexpected Contradiction", 19 Aug, 2013.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Darn! That was one of the very few monthly blogs I had NOT examined. I thought I wrote my note earlier than August. Many thanks!

Sean