Friday, 29 May 2015

Two Volumes?

Of Poul Anderson's three Kith short stories, two were incorporated in different forms into his novel, Starfarers. Should there therefore be two Kith volumes? -

a collection of all three stories in their original forms;
the novel.

These two volumes would constitute alternative versions of the Kith History. Both versions culminate with a ship returning from an unusually long exploratory voyage, either ten or eleven thousand years/light years. But they are different ships with different missions.

In the short story, "The Horn of Time the Hunter," the exiled Kith ship, the Golden Flyer, has explored the fringes of the galactic nucleus. We are not told what her crew found there except that it was neither wisdom nor the Elder Race. The story ends before they reach the Solar System but, en route, they have found, on an extrasolar planet, human colonists who have adapted to living in water. As in Anderson's Technic History, enough time has elapsed for human beings to adapt to different planetary environments.

This story also summarizes some future history that diverges in detail from the course of events presented in Starfarers. In the novel, a political regime called the Dominancy persecutes the Kith with exorbitant taxes whereas in "The Horn of Time...," a regime called the Star Empire physically attacks the Kith so that those who are not captured flee from the Solar System and meet in council at Tau Ceti, a rendezvous point in both versions of the History.

This mention of the Star Empire reads like a reference to an earlier installment of the series and, of course, even if such an installment did not exist at the time when "The Horn..." was written, Anderson could have added such a "prequel" later.

The viewpoint character of "The Horn..." is Jong Errifans of the Golden Flyer and in "Ghetto," incorporated into Starfarers, Kenri Shaun recalls his friend, Jong Errifans of the Golden Flyer.

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