Sunday, 10 November 2013
In non-fiction, the author addresses his readers directly as if in conversation whereas, in a work of fiction, the same auctorial voice is mediated through characters in imaginary scenarios. Thus, in Thermonuclear Warfare, Poul Anderson responds to Soviet aggression whereas, in the Technic History, the Marchwardens of Avalon respond to Terran aggression and, later, Max Abrams and Dominic Flandry respond to Merseian aggression.
In Is There Life On Other Worlds?, I hope to gain some insight into the likelihood or otherwise of Merseians, Ythrians etc. The vast majority of Anderson's aliens are bipedal with arms and a head displaying an immediately recognizable face: two eyes above a mouth maybe with a nose between and ears at the sides. How likely is this? If, as I suspect, Terrestrial animals have arbitrarily inherited these facial features from our earliest marine ancestors, then there is no necessity for them to be endlessly duplicated elsewhere. For example, if Larry Niven's tripedal, two-headed Pierrson's Puppeteers write science fiction, then they probably model all unHearthly intelligences on themselves.