Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Venture League

Poul Anderson, Starfarers (New York, 1999).

(The present Queen of England, occasionally mentioned on this blog, will visit her Duchy of Lancaster tomorrow after a week of exhaustive security preparations. This means that, if we look out at the right time, we will see the Royal Train passing behind our house early in the morning.)

In the previous post, does the autumnal sunlight pervading a summer day on Harbor presage that the Envoy crew will be unable to reverse the inexorable decline of interstellar travel? As it turns out, they do reverse it. Although Anderson wrote two short dystopias, all of his longer works end optimistically. The Night Face ends somberly - but is not very long.

Captain Nansen's Venture League encounters political opposition already discussed here. Reverting for a moment to what Nansen found on Earth before traveling to Harbor:

Kith Town is empty except for robot caretakers;
the newest homes were last occupied centuries ago;
few visit physically because everyone on Earth can access virtuals;
but there is a visitors' center with overnight accommodation;
ships come rarely and stay briefly;
crews stay in a hostel or aboard;
constellations and the North Star have changed;
the Town is surrounded by ruins because -

"From time to time, a city had engulfed the starfarers' dwelling place." (p. 462)

It was the realization that more than one city had enclosed Kith Town that brought home to me the passage of time in this future history. With nothing to be done on Earth, Nansen and his crew travel to Harbor to found their Venture League there. What happens next?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Dang! Your comments about STARFARERS are so interesting I really should reread that book myself.

And recent grim events in international affairs (such as the rise and victories of the Islamic State) certainly makes it understandable why security arrangements for her Majesty's visit to Lancaster were so "exhaustive." I hope all goes well and that the Queen and the people of Lancaster have a pleasant time together.

Yes, I agree THE NIGHT FACE ends somberly, altho I would not call it dystopian (except for the luckless people of Gwydion). "Murphy's Hall" is story written by Anderson which is definitely dystopian, CHILLINGLY so. I'm not sure which is the other short dystopia written by Anderson you had in mind. Perhaps "In Memoriam"? Altho that piece is not exactly what I would call a story.


Paul Shackley said...

I meant "In Memoriam." This work is a short prose fictional narrative so I think it counts as a short story just as Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN counts as a novel even though its style is that of a history book - a recounting of historical events like the Martian Invasions without individual characters or conversations.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Aha, I was right to think you had "In Memoriam" in mind. Altho, as you said, that piece is more a prose fictional narrative written as non fiction.