Friday, 8 May 2015

"As Remote As Ever"

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

Fictional space travel is often interplanetary or interstellar but rarely intergalactic. The inaccessibility of other galaxies is usually a given:

"Neighbor galaxies glimmered as remote as ever." (p. 153)

Which authors do give us intergalactic travel? E.E. Smith does but there is no discernible difference between the Milky Way and the Second Galaxy visited by his Lensmen. (According to the theory of planetary formation assumed by Smith, two galaxies that have recently interpenetrated and passed through each other should each be full of planets because the gravitational fields of stars passing close by each other will have pulled out stellar matter which will then have condensed and gone into orbit.)

Like most sf readers, I remember reading a few works years ago without remembering either titles or authors' names. There was one novel with an empire spanning more than one galaxy. The Ring Of Ritornel by Charles Harness? In another novel, The Paradox Men, Harness has a spaceship gaining so much mass from relativistic acceleration that it pulls several galaxies after it. Olaf Stapledon has the collective telepathic mind of our galaxy launching a star cluster across intergalactic space in order to communicate with the civilizations in another galaxy.

I have previously discussed intergalactic works by Anderson, Blish and Niven. See here.

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