Sunday, 29 June 2014

Return to Avalon

In accordance with the current practice of moving around mentally within Poul Anderson's Technic History, I am again rereading The People Of The Wind, a novel set on the human-Ythrian colony planet, Avalon. For previously recorded information about this planet, please see here.

There remain plenty of details to discuss in The People Of The Wind. What a different place from the early Dominic Flandry stories, although they are in the same future history. I was puzzled by this sentence, in the Technic Civilization Saga omnibus edition:

"Behavior grossly harmful to the physical or social environment must be enjoined..." (my emphasis)
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind IN Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 437-662 AT p. 498.

Fortunately, I had bought all the installments of the History before it was collected into uniform editions:

"Behavior grossly harmful to the physical or social environment must be forbidden..." (my emphasis)
-Poul Anderson, The People Of The Wind (London, 1977), p. 56.

That makes more sense.

Among the winged, carnivorous Ythrians, "...the Khruath [was] a periodic gathering of all free adults in a given territory who cared to come. It had judicial and limited legislative authority..."
Rise Of The Terran Empire, p. 497.

This arrangement works for Ythrians, although not for human beings, because the former are less talkative, less interfering, less easily bullied and less crowded. "...on Terra...a version of it appeared once, long ago, and failed bloodily." (ibid.)

I thought that I knew which historical example Anderson meant but, on reflection, I am not sure.

6 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I thought it was obvious which example of a "khruath" that appeared on Terra and failed bloodily that Anderson had in mind. The USSR was that version, and it certainly failed with SPECTACULAR bloodiness.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
OK. I thought that the Paris Commune might have fitted the bill, as being more directly democratic than the Russian Republic managed to be.
Paul.

ndrosen said...

When I first read he book, I thought that that was talking about the Soviet system, but it may instead be a reference to the medieval Icelandic Commonwealth.

Best Regards,
Nicholas Rosen

Paul Shackley said...

Nice one, Nicholas.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

No, if we wanted to cite an example from French history, I would have suggested the Jacobins and Robespierre's blood drenched dictatorship during the Reign of Terror.

But, Anderson had in mind versions of INSTITUTIONS like the Ythrian khruaths which appeared in Terran history, not relatively short lived tyrannies like those of the Jacobins or the Commune. And my belief is that he had the USSR in mind.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas!

I don't think Poul Anderson had the medieval Icelandic state in mind as something like a Ythrian khruath which failed bloodily. For one thing, the Icelandic state was organized into clans ruled by chiefs, which met at the annual althings. Another point to keep in mind is that the Icelandic state only started breaking down after 1200 when chieftains like Snorri Sturluson became more and more unwilling to settle their quarrels by peaceful means. Snorri himself and his family were so infamous for their ambition and desire for power that historians called the period from 1200 to the Norwegian annexation of Iceland the "Sturlung Age."

Sean