Tuesday, 16 June 2015

"Home" And "Delenda Est"

I thought that I had previously read all but two of the stories in the NESFA Press The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson, Volume 4, but in fact I had previously read all but one of them. "Home" is such a forgettable title that I did not immediately recognize this story. However, I have argued previously that it introduces a short future history. See:

A Future History Or Not?
Poul Anderson's Ninth Future History
Reviewing STL Future Histories

The story as presented here does not include one short passage that gives a chilling insight into the psychology of the alien Mithrans.

"Delenda Est," as presented here, does include references to characters who were introduced in two stories published later so it looks as if this is the revised, not the original, version of "Delenda Est." 


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Now that was interesting, what you said about the Mithrans of "Home." I think I know exactly which part of the story you have in mind. Interesting, that the original version did not have it. Think I'll read the NESFA Press version soon!


    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I have read "Home" in NESFA Press' ADMIRALTY, and it did not have the chilling Mithran bit! NESFA is focusing on reprinting the original versions of Poul Anderson's short stories. My copy of Gregg Press' THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS (1978) has a version of "Home" which is two to three pages longer. The bit we both have in mind came from the nonhuman Mithran Strongtail's reflections about the humans: "Unless-- No, while the prowltiger episode, and certain others, had been unfortunate, limits were exceeded. Should that ever happen, Strongtail would be forced to kill. But he would continue to love as he did."

      So, appearances to the contrary, Mithrans are NOT as peaceful, mild, gentle, and "shifltless" as they appeared! I agree with Jacob Kahn, the captain of the Directorate ship sent to Mithras to close down and evacuate the research base there, that the inevitable strains and tensions arising from two very different races living together on one would eventually end in war. And the Mithrans might very well have destroyed the base turned colony! Esp. since they might have realized more quickly than the humans what the consequences of a rapidly expanding colony would be for them.

      Or, of course, the humans might have won. And the best the conquered Mithrans would have gotten were a few fairly decent "reservations." No, Jacob Kahn was right, the best and most humane solution was to remove, forcibly if necessary, the humans from Mithras while they were still few in numbers. But, it was a tragedy, of course! Mithras had become HOME to those humans who had grown up on the base, and their parents and grandparents before them.

      Hmmm, how should "Home" and other short stories revised by Poul Anderson be handled in any COMPLETE COLLECTED WORKS? Since the later material in "Home" was limited to a few pages inserted between two older sections, I think it would be enough for the editors to add a footnote for the beginning of the "new" material that this text was added later.

      Other revised short stories will be more difficult to handle (due to them being more extensively rewritten). My view is that the revised stories should be classified as "canonical," with the original texts relegated to appendices. Examples being "Margin of Profit," "The White King's War," "Tiger by the Tail," "Honorable Enemies," and Warriors From Nowhere." These last, being from the Technic Series, could be included as an appendix to a volume containing the four post Imperial stories.


    2. Dang! In the first paragraph of my second note above I forgot to include the word "not" after "limits were..." The whole thing thing is too long to delete and then rewrite. Hence, this explanatory comment.