Saturday, 18 July 2015

Three Realms

Poul Anderson's Terran Empire is founded in response to the Time of Troubles, a political and economic collapse, in our future.

SM Stirling's New Empire is founded in response to the Fall, a cometary strike, in an alternative timeline.

Stirling's Commonwealth of New Virginia is founded in response to one man's discovery of a Gate to an alternative timeline with a North America unconquered by Europeans.

Thus, Anderson presupposes our single timeline whereas Stirling assumes first an alternative timeline, then two interconnected timelines. The plot thickens.

Anderson's Manuel Argos and Stirling's Benjamin Disraeli address urgent social necessities whereas Stirling's John Rolfe seizes an arbitrary individual opportunity! But, in all three cases, a new civilization is built that will eventually transcend its Founder's idiosyncrasies. Unlike the others, Rolfe is still alive at the end of the narrative. Thus, his personality and legacy are still dominant. However, an entire alternative history of the twenty first century and beyond stretches ahead of the Earth that holds New Virginia.

Anderson shows us the History of Technic Civilization to, through and beyond the Fall of the Terran Empire whereas Stirling has as yet shown us only the early twenty first centuries of his New Empire and Commonwealth...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm not sure the ending of the first sentence of the fifth paragraph quite makes sense: "...John Rolfe seizes an arbitrary individual opportunity!" Might not "...John Rolfe seizes an arbitrary ACCIDENTAL opportunity!" bring out more clearly what you had in mind? But, this is mere petty nit picking! And I rather hope Stirling tries his hand at writing another New Virginian novel.

And, yes, Manuel Argos and Benjamin Disraeli were trying, in different ways and in different circumstances, to cope with socio/political/economic collapse.

Btw, we don't see the actual Fall of the Terran Empire in Anderson's Technic History. THE GAME OF EMPIRE ends with the Empire still strong and powerful and with Flandry even hoping it could exist for another couple of centuries. The earliest of the four post Imperial stories Anderson wrote, "A Tragedy of Errors," is set centuries after the Empire fell.


Paul Shackley said...

I accept that that sentence was clumsily phrased. I was trying to draw this contrast: Argos and Disraeli responded to social crises whereas Rolfe was given a chance to advance his own interests as an individual. But, in all three cases, a new civilization resulted.
Again, I was contrasting Anderson, who shows us the longer term future of Technic Civilization, with Stirling who has not yet shown us the further future of Angrezi Raj or Commonwealth. I wrote ", through and beyond the Fall...," then realized that that was not accurate but left it to blog readers to spot the error - as you did!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Paragraph one of your response: yes, I agree. We see Argos, Disraeli, and John Rolfe founding, in effect, new civilizations. Your second paragraph: yes, we don't know what happened in the further history of the Angrezi Raj and the Commonwealth.

Thanks for being nice about my nit picking! (Smiles)