Saturday, 30 May 2015

What Is To Come

SM Stirling's In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings is in the post and I will get the British paperback edition of Old Mars in September. The latter, which includes a Stirling "Lords of Creation" story is an anthology based on the same theme as the "Lords of Creation" series.

Meanwhile, back in Poul Anderson's "Genius," the Solarian Empire is threatened by:

human barbarians beyond the Imperial borders;
nonhuman border barbarians;
rival empires;
the Magellanics attacking every century with unimaginable weapons.

Given these external threats, the marshal thinks that any internal disruption could be fatal. Internal order is kept by:

toleration of local gods;
a state church with the Emperor as the material incarnation of the divine Spirit;
local garrisons;
political indoctrination;
state control of commerce and travel;
psychotechnic preparation and supervision of popular entertainment;
rigid birth control;
complete sexual freedom as an outlet;
early selection and training of the ablest children for government work;
unlimited opportunities for promotion.

Incorporation of the ablest is always an astute move. "New men" are loyal to the regime that has promoted them, not to any vested interests within it. How effective is psychotechnic control of entertainment? Might the psychotechnicians learn anything from our advertisers or vice versa? Is such control compatible with the creation of valid art? The psychologist states, plausibly, that it generates "'...mediocrity.'" (Call me Joe, p. 201) Even a story with crude pulp premises yields interesting discussion when analyzed.

Social order and stability would indeed be precarious given certain familiar premises:

faster than light travel;
nuclear weapons;
expanding imperialisms;
barbarians with access to spaceships and modern weapons -

- which is why Manuel Argos founds the Terran Empire in Anderson's History of Technic Civilization. But Manuel grants citizenship to worthy non-humans, unlike the Solarian Empire which exterminates aborigines.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Exactly, things like the extermination of non humans we see mentioned in "Genius" and the totalitarianism of the state were among two of the ideas Poul Anderson firmly rejected. And the Empire founded by Manuel Argos in the Technic History not only believed in and practiced the legal equality of races before the law but also eschewed rigid centralization. That is, local planets and communities within the Empire, human and non human, managed most of their own affairs, according to their own laws and customs. Because the Empire had to! It was impossible to minutely govern more than 100,000 worlds from the center. Instead, the Empire forcused on defense, foreign affairs, and an appeals system for law courts adjudicating esp. difficult cases coming to them from the ordinary courts of local planets and communities (I based this on how one of the titles of the Emperors was "final arbiter").


    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I forgot to add in my previous note how it was Merseia which believed in and practiced racial supremacism. That is, the idea that Merseians were somehow naturally superior to all other intelligent beings and thus had a right to rule and govern them any way they pleased. Up to and including the extermination of non Merseian races they found too troublesome. Recall Brechdan Ironrede's chilling comment about the human race in ENSIGN FLANDRY: "We may be forced to exteminate."

      Glory to the Emperor! Sean

  2. For the sake of completeness, I thought it right to bring to interested readers attention how in my "Crime and Punishment in the Terran Empire" and "Sector Governors in the Terran Empire" notes I took a closer look at both how the Empire was administered and criminal law.


  3. Sean,
    That was a good deduction from the title, "Final Arbiter."
    To other readers: Sean's articles are on the Poul Anderson: Contributor Articles blog.

    1. Kaor, Paul!

      The beginning of Chapter 1 of ENSIGN FLANDRY begins with mentioning of Emperor Georgios and a listing of his titles. "Final Arbiter" has to logically mean there was a system of appeals courts for adjudicating esp. difficult cases reaching them from the ordinary courts of the planets and communities of the Empire. And some of the most difficult of these tough cases would reach the Emperor himself, to judge as Final Arbiter. Altho, of course, I'm sure his Majesty would largely lean on the advice of his legal experts (the Terran equivalents of the Law Lords of the UK?).