Thursday, 17 December 2015

Contrasting Aspects Of A Future History Series

Formulaically, so to say, Poul Anderson's The Peregrine is hard sf about the consequences of technological advances in a fictitious future. However, three of its premises -

easy, regular, faster than light interstellar travel;
many habitable, easily colonizeable, Earth-like planets;
an alien race differing from humanity only in greater physical beauty -

- make me think of it more as set in an alternative reality verging on fantasy. Some of Anderson's early pulp stories, like "Witch Of The Demon Seas," present an alternative universe where human and other beings inhabit planets of different stars and there is the possibility of interstellar travel but at the same time magic works. The Peregrine is not in that category but not far from it either.

Any future history series links near future stories to far future stories. Near future stories, like "Marius" and "Un-Man," are much closer to our reality and present problems that we recognize. An Un-Man breaks into the apartment of an Americanist Guardsman, interrogates him, then kills him, making it look like suicide. He justifies this as an act of war and indeed the UN and "the gang" are waging an undeclared covert war. Many people believe that the mere declaration of a war justifies any killing ordered by our government - although, as soon as I write that, moral and even legal considerations intrude. There are such things as war crimes. Personally, I would not trust any existing government to tell me when to kill and would not have joined in the slaughter of 1914-'18 but would have seen the need to oppose Hitler, although not by mass bombing of German cities.

Back to the further future: although a Coordinator cooperating with Nomads thwarts a particular alien plot, the Coordination Service and the Stellar Union are soon to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of external threats:

"'The overworked integrators are years behind in correlating information...A thing can grow to monstrous proportions before they learn of it.'" (The Peregrine, p. 30)

What follows is the Third Dark Ages, similar to the Long Night in the Technic History, although in this series there are no stories set in the period following the breakdown.

5 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Well, none of the major Powers in 1914 truly WANTED a war (even if some factions inside them did). And the efforts made to prevent the crisis provoked by the Sarajevo assassinations from leading to dire consequences still somehow spun out of control.

    And would YOU truly have opposed the UK not honoring its treaty obligations to Belgium, France and Russia in 1914? Esp. since many people, amazingly, hoped then that the war would not last long and be over within a few months. NO one could have predicted then what a years long struggle to the death the Great War became. Everybody seems to have underestimated each other's strength and resolution!

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    European Social Democrats opposed war until it started to happen, then voted for it in their respective national Parliaments. If they had remained united against war, there would have been a different outcome. I don't know what, just different.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I have heard of that, esp. how the German Social Democrats voted in the Reichstag FOR the war budget. But I still have my doubts--esp. in France. I think support for a war against Germany had wide support among all major parties of both right and left in France. And THAT would have affected how the German Social Democrats voted.

      Sean

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  3. Sean,
    Sorry, in haste before. If alive and active in '14, I would not have been supporting the imperial policies of whichever country I happened to be living in so, of course, my perspective on military treaties would have been different. But I would also have been in a small minority unable to influence Parliamentary decisions or international events!
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor ,Paul!

      Understood! Altho I would argue that persons of your views could not have predicted what a ruinous death struggle the Great War became and might still have supported the war effort. We can only speculate on what we might have thought and done if alive in 1914.

      Sean

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