Sunday, 21 December 2014

Chaos And Order

Reflecting on the Solar Minister of Security's hostility to the Solar Spice & Liquors Company, David Falkayn thinks:

"He loathes us because we've never either joined or toadied to the coalition of cartels, politicians, and bureaucrats. To him, we represent Chaos."
-Poul Anderson, The Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), pp. 167-168.

How many works by Anderson present this basic conflict between freedom, "Chaos," and control, "Security"? For once, I will not try to write a complete list. In Anderson's first future history, the Psychotechnic Institute opposes not freedom miscalled chaos but real chaos: insanity; nationalism; war; totalitarianism. Totalitarian plots to impose order merely compound chaos. The Institute, if it had succeeded, would have (genuinely) reeducated, not (merely) indoctrinated.

In other works, those who value security try to eliminate those who prefer unpredictability. The earlier form of this conflict is between bureaucrats on the one side and entrepreneurs or explorers on the other. The later form is between superhuman artificial intelligences on the one side and the whole of humanity on the other. The transition occurs in Harvest Of Stars. Humanity is extinct in, ironically, Genesis.

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