Saturday, 26 July 2014

Two SF Series

(i) Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is collected in seven omnibus volumes whereas his Time Patrol series is complete as one omnibus collection and one long novel.

(ii) The Technic History is a history whereas the Time Patrol guards history.

(iii) Both series are science fiction because the Technic History is a future history and the Time Patrollers time travel.

(iv) Thus, the Technic History moves into the future whereas Time Patrollers move in three temporal directions, pastward, futureward and one other.

(v) The Time Patrol guards the entire Terrestrial history of the human race whereas the Technic History recounts the interstellar history of several races from 2055 to 7100 AD.

(vi) The central character of the Time Patrol series was born in 1925 but roves through centuries and millennia whereas Technic History characters are born in and remain in successive future centuries.

(vii) The two series present different fictitious futures but the Time Patrol also presents several authentic historical and prehistorical periods - except that, in its timeline, Sherlock Holmes was a real person.

8 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    I agree, of course, that the Technic History and the Time Patrol are among the most prominent and well known series written by Poul Anderson. However, I would include as well the Interbeing League stories and featuring the Hokas co authored by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson. The ten short stories and novel (STAR PRINCE CHARLIE) should certainly be considered one of the series Poul Anderson helped to write.

    I know, you are doubtful of the validity of this idea because you don't think the Hoka stories are apread out over a long enough period to be considered a "history".

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    Not a history and, in my view, nowhere near as prominent a series as the Technic History or the Time Patrol. After those two, I would rank YS and HARVEST OF STARS.
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I am rather sorry the Hoka stories written by Anderson/Dickson are not better known. They were often funny stories and fun to read. Many of the works of L. Sprague de Camp are also SF comedies.

      Yes, THE KING OF YS is best understood as a long historical novel with occasional flashes of fantasy. And the HARVEST OF STARS books (plus the stand alone GENESIS) shows Poul Anderson writing in what I would call a semi Olaf Stapledon mode. Only "semi" because those books are nowhere as detached and remote as what I've understood Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN to be like (a work I've not read).

      Sean

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  3. Sean,
    I advise any sf fan to read Stapledon, "the ultimate science fiction writer," as (I think) Brian Aldiss and I independently called him. I recently summarized info about Stapledon's Flying Men.
    Paul.

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  4. The cosmic passages in GENESIS are definitely Stapledonian.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I have read a bit of Olaf Stapledon, but only ODD JOHN and SIRIUS. Alas, there are so many writers I should read, or read more of, such as Lord Dunsany, for example.

      I agree, the cosmic parts of GENESIS show Stapledonian influence. I would argue that in his late phase (from THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS to his death) Poul Anderson returned to some of the ideas and themes he touched on in BRAIN WAVE and TWILIGHT WORLD. Of course, in a much deeper and maturer way than what we see in those early works. Not that they aren't worth rereading, they are!

      And I consider Anderson's "quasi" story "In Memoriam" to be very much written in a Stapledonian manner. Some, however, will find it too dark and grim.

      Sean

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    2. Sean,
      "In Memoriam," like "Flight To Forever," is a miniature future history.
      Paul.

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    3. Hi, Paul!

      If so, "In Memoriam" is a mini history showing the pathetic end of mankind and the posthuman history of Earth. And while "Flight to Forever" might be an SF mini history, it's also definitely one of Poul Anderson's more primitive early works, written while he was still learning how to write, to find his natural mode of writing, etc.

      The brief bit in "In Memoriam" about how, after the extinction of mankind, intelligent life arose once again on Earth IN the seas interested me. Anderson wrote that those succesors of mankind also eventually became extinct themselves at least in part because they were unable to more fully use their abilities reminds me of what Michael A.G. Michaud said in his book CONTACT WITH ALIEN CIVILIZATIONS. He wrote that the cetaceans, like the dolphins and whales MAY be intelligent, but that they seemed to have reached an impasse. That is, they have adapted so well to life in the sea that they can't really make use of their possible intelligence.

      Sean

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