Monday, 22 December 2014

Old And New In Mirkheim

Mirkheim is the first of six works collected in Volume III of Baen Books' seven-volume The Technic Civilization Saga and is also the turning point novel of Poul Anderson's forty three installment future history series called the History of Technic Civilization. Because it is a turning point, Mirkheim gathers together many characters and plot elements that had already appeared in the eighteen earlier installments collected in Volumes I and II but also introduces new background information that is so seamlessly welded into the History that readers may not recognize its novelty.

I have summarized the contents of the early Technic History previously but this time the purpose is to identify how many important data are pre-Mirkheim.

Of the eleven works collected in Volume I:

"Wings of Victory" mentions the planets Cynthia, Woden and Hermes;
"How To Be Ethnic In One Easy Lesson" introduces the Wodenite Adzel and the Polesotechnic League;
"Margin of Profit" introduces Nicholas van Rijn, Master Merchant, Polesotechnic League;
"The Three-Cornered Wheel" introduces the aristocratic Hermetian David Falkayn as a League apprentice on the planet Ivanhoe;
"A Sun Invisible" discloses that Falkayn is now employed by van Rijn and introduces the planet Vanessa;
"The Season of Forgiveness" describes later events on Ivanhoe;
The Man Who Counts shows van Rijn with Sandra Tamarin, future Grand Duchess of Hermes, on Diomedes, a planet that Dominic Flandry will visit in Volume VI;
"Esau" features van Rijn and introduces the Baburites.

Of the seven works collected in Volume II:

Falkayn, Adzel and the Cynthian Chee Lan work for van Rijn in four;
van Rijn cameos in the first of these four and shares the spotlight with Falkayn etc in the third and fourth;
the first, "The Trouble Twisters," introduces the planet Ikrananka;
the second, "Day of Burning," introduces the planet Merseia;
the third, Satan's World, introduces much but for present purposes we should note the planet Gorzun;
the fourth, "Lodestar," introduces van Rijn's granddaughter, Coya Conyon, the planet Mirkheim discovered by Falkayn, then independently by van Rijn, the Supermetals Company secretly founded by Falkayn, the Wodenite Nadi and an unnamed Ikranankan working for Supermetals, and discloses that this company represents many poorer planets.

In Mirkheim:

Falkayn has married Coya;
Sandra has become Grand Duchess of Hermes and will be succeeded by Eric, her son by van Rijn;
we learn that Supermetals also represents Ivanhoe, Vanessa and Gorzun;
the League has split into two rival cartels and many independents;
the Baburites, employing disaffected human beings and Merseians and secretly armed by a League cartel, seizes Mirkheim and invades Hermes;
van Rijn reassembles Falkayn, Adzel and Chee Lan to investigate Babur;
Supermetals, through Nadi, asks Hermes, through Sandra, to take possession of Mirkheim;
we are now told for the first time many details about Hermes and about the Falkayn domain.

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