Friday, 12 June 2015

Galactic SF

Some recent posts catalogued science fictional treatments of the Solar System. Everyone knows the names of the planets outward from the Sun. Space travel can be interplanetary or interstellar although, since the latter can mean just a slow boat to Proxima Centauri, I suggest a third category, "galactic," taking in the Milky Way as a whole.

When sf writers venture beyond the Solar System, they often describe:

the interior of a spaceship en route across an interstellar distance;

the surface of an extrasolar planet.

However, there is so much more than that out there. Poul Anderson does in fact do more. First, he characteristically describes a star and its planetary system before focusing on a particular planet. Secondly, he imagines many dramatic stellar events generating extreme alien environments. See here.

I think that a reader of galactic sf should be given some sense of the size and shape of the galaxy, the arms, the center, the halo and any other features. I am less familiar with more recent sf. Gregory Benford has a Galactic Center Saga. Some passages in works by Anderson or by James Blish impart relevant information and may be discussed later.

Signing off for what may be a busy weekend.

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