Friday, 25 April 2014
Bite-Size Books And Immersion In The Future
"Outpost of Empire"
The Day Of Their Return -
Neo-Freehold techniques are applied nearly a millennium later in "The Sharing of Flesh." Desai lare explains imperial decline to Flandry. All fans of the Technic History know the importance of Aycharaych to Flandry and of the Ancients to a certain Jerusalem Catholic Wodenite.
The History is not only intricately constructed but also vividly narrated, suggesting a real future:
"THE SPLENDOR, WONDER & TERROR OF THE STARFLUNG - POUL ANDERSON TAKES YOU THERE!"
-Philip Jose Farmer, quoted on the front cover of Poul Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979).
"Poul Anderson immerses you in the future...Anderson puts you into a whole new world."
- Larry Niven, quoted on the back cover of Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011).
This is evident when Coya Conlon reflects on the differences between her grandfather, Nicholas van Rijn's, generation and her own:
"...I'm a typical modern human...My grandfather's generation seldom bothered to get married. My father's did. And mine, why, we're reviving patrilineal surnames."
- Poul Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), pp. 643-644.
"The Pax Mercatoria was drawing to an end and, while she had never wholly approved of it, she sometimes dreaded the future." (op. cit., p. 652)
Van Rijn says, "'...as youngsters like you, Coya, get more prudish, the companies and governments get more brutish...,'" to which she replies, "The second is part of the reason for the first.'" (op. cit., p. 659)
Thus, Anderson presents social changes and generational differences. For all her solidity and authenticity, Coya appears in only two works, "Lodestar," where van Rijn suddenly has a twenty five year old granddaughter, and Mirkheim, where she has been married to David Falkayn for ten years.
Dr Pournelle said somewhere, "Everyone knows that Poul Anderson is one of the best. They're wrong. He's better." This may strike us clever and amusing: better than the best? But it is literally true. We know that Anderson is among the best writers of fantasy and science fiction and, when we carefully reread his works, we realize that they are better than we thought. His works contain a wealth of unobtrusive background details that need not have been present for effective action-adventure fiction but that add depth and make the rereading worthwhile.