Saturday, 29 March 2014

Another Detail Of Life On The Moon

Anderson, Poul, "Escape The Morning" IN Anderson, Space Folk (New York, 1989), pp. 52-63.

Quite often in these posts, I try to communicate the richness of Poul Anderson's texts by summarizing the information that he conveys in his imaginative descriptions of extraterrestrial scenery, futuristic scenarios etc, but it is hard to include everything. When summarizing his accounts of three kinds of Lunar vehicle, I overlooked this important detail:

"...even the best glass is fragile and a poor radiation shield..." (p. 54)

- so Mark Jordan, driving his "turtle," views the surrounding Lunar landscape and skyline not through windows but on TV screens. We soon learn that a space rock hitting the surface scatters shrapnel that makes holes in metal so mere glass would indeed have been too fragile.

I compared this single short story to the several Moon-based stories in Heinlein's Future History. All of these well observed details, like TV screens instead of windows, deserve to re-used in successive installments of a series rather than squandered on a single work. Indeed, any fictional narrative set in the future is potentially an installment of a fictitious history. Probably several near future stories of interplanetary travel could, with minimal editing, be re-presented as sharing a common background comparable to that of Heinlein's Future History. Such a "history" can be constructed either on the basis that only stories which explicitly refer to each other are to be included or on the basis that only stories which explicitly contradict each other are to be excluded. Clarifying which of these criteria was to be applied led to some uncertainty as to the contents of Heinlein's Time Chart in its early days.

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