Thursday, 27 November 2014

Background Material On The Technic History

I suggest here that a fictitious historical text book could be written about Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization. It seems that Poul Anderson did write it:

"I wrote out the entire historical scheme explicitly, with a time chart, star maps, and related aids."
-Poul Anderson, "Concerning Future Histories" IN SFWA Bulletin, Fall 1979, p. 10.

Would we like to read this scheme? Or should it be regarded as part of the background material and therefore not as part of the finished work?

Anderson wrote in the same article:

"...it seems obvious - and certainly there is a good bit of detail in my head, even though I'll never put it into print - that humanity in this imaginary universe did muddle through its present set of crises; that a more humane order of things did evolve; that English, eventually shifting enough to be called 'Anglic,' became the main international language, without suppressing the rest..." (p. 11)

(Later, David Falkayn in space is surprised to be addressed not in League Latin but in German.)

Anderson's thoughts on the Chaos cannot be published because they were only in his head. A work set in this period could be near future or even contemporary fiction without any explicit reference connecting it to the later Technic History. The only such reference in "The Saturn Game," set in the mid-twenty first century, is that one character was brought up in the Jerusalem Catholic Church. So that religious change or split had occurred that early. What happened to Rome during the Chaos? (In James Blish's Black Easter/The Day After Judgment, Rome was nuked and the Cardinals met in Venice to elect a new Pope but that is in a different timeline.)

11 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Poul Anderson DID write one novel which can arguably be said to be in the past of the Technic History, during the Chaos: THE DEVIL'S GAME (pub. in 1980). Altho, of course, not a single thing can be found in the Technic History stories which can be plausibly thought of as alluding to that book. One thing I remember from first reading it in 1980 was my fascination on reading a story by PA set not in either the remote past or remote future but the PRESENT. And it was my view that Anderson could write very well written stories set in the here and now. And I read the parts of THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS set in the late 20th century with the same kind of interest one might feel reading about one's home town (temporally speaking).

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I forgot to add in my previous comment that I would have been very interested in leafing thru that over flowing binder of notes and charts compiled by Poul Anderson for working out and keeping straight the Technic History stories. And his son in law Greg Bear told me his father in law left behind boxes of papers after he died. It's my hope that at least some of those notes and papers may be publishable. There might even be one or two unfinished stories needing only some editing and polishing up before being printed. I hope someone goes thru that looseleaf binder and boxes of papers to find publishable fragments!

Sean

ndrosen said...

And, of course, there are the Tryggve Yamamura novels, set in the middle 20th century; they aren't necessarily part of the Technic history, but they could be.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas!

Darn! I should have thought of the Tryggve Yamamura novels as well. Yes, being set in the mid 20th century, they would indeed be in the time of Chaos, before Technic civilization arose.

Thanks! Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
THE DEVIL'S GAME is fantasy so I think it doesn't fit the History.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Except that the writing of science fiction and, by extension fantasy, was known in Technic civilization. SATAN'S WORLD mentions a science fiction convention as meeting on the Moon. So literature like THE DEVIL'S GAME was known in that civilization. And "House Rule," also arguably a fantasy, even mentions Nicholas van Rijn as a guest of The Old Phoenix Inn. So, I argue that the fantasy elements in THE DEVIL'S GAME does not necessarily preclude the events of that story as being in the past of Technic Civilization.

And, of course Nicholas Rosen mentioned how the Tryggve Yamamura mystery novels could arguably be said to be in the past of Technic Civilization.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
2 points here: (i) Fantasy can be written in Technic civilization but it does not follow that magical or supernatural events can occur in that history; (ii) van Rijn appears in the fantasy setting of the Old Phoenix. Yes, that point packs a punch.
Paul.

ndrosen said...

At least, THE DEVIL'S GAME may be fantasy; Samael may be a demon (or an angel operating under cover?). The novel could also be science fiction if Samael is an extraterrestrial, or mainstream if Samael is a figment of Sunderland Haverner's imagination.

Best Regards,
Nicholas

Paul Shackley said...

Yes. Ambiguity.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas!

Yes, to use Paul's word, "ambiguity" is what we are left with in THE DEVILS GAME. We are left uncertain who or what Samael was, whether he was real or not, the motivations for his actions, etc.

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I have to agree with what you said about fantasy events not occurring in either our history or the Technic History. But, I disagree with what you said about the supernatural. For example, as a Catholic, I believe that at every Mass celebrated by a validly ordained priest, the miracle of transubstantiation occurs.

And how in Tarnation did Old Nick ever find his way to the Old Phoenix Inn? That's one mysterious question we would both like to know the answer for!

Chapter 15 of ENSIGN FLANDRY even gives us the titles of of twe science fiction or pulp fiction novels written in the Imperial age. Persis Hazeltine was complaining about the lack of recreational material as she and Flandry were fleeing the Merseians: "She flopped into a seat. "Do you recall what we have aboard for entertainment?" she said. "Four animations: a Merseian travelogue, a comedian routine, a speech by the Emperor, and a Cynthian opera on the twenty-one scale. Two novels: OUTLAW BLASTMAN and PLANET OF SIN. I have them memorized. They come back to me in my dreams. Then there's a flute, which I can't play, and a set of operation manuals."

I thought this an amusing combination of the prosaic, of high culture, and low brow culture. Esp. the sardonic titles of the novels! And I would have liked to have known what Emperor Georgios talked about in his speech.

Sean