Saturday, 12 December 2015

More Background Details

It is too easy to categorize the opening installments of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History merely as action-adventure fiction and thus to miss their background contributions to the future history.

In "The Sensitive Man":

"Even the hulking bodyguard was probably a college graduate, Third Class."
-Poul Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981), p. 138.

Someone with a third class University degree? No. The educational system is outlined in the preceding installment, "Un-Man." Modern technology replaces not only unskilled laborers but also routine intellectuals. First class education, starting early and remaining free for those who are able to keep passing exams, produces large numbers of graduates trained to the limit of their capacity, PhD's at twenty or younger. The complex global civilization requires this educational elite but relegates the less able to Second and Third schools, with consequent social friction.

Another social factor: the family had been an economic and social unit but technology destroyed the first function; World War III and subsequent upheavals destroyed the second. Creches, schools and public entertainment take children away from the home. Old style marriage becomes extremely rare.

Thirdly, there are global anachronisms like Hindu peasants. Many people want to restore the old ways without realizing that technology has changed human nature. Geriatrics and birth control are making the population old and rigid just when new thinking is required.

This is a complex and well realized future history. The World Wars, the Years of Hunger and Madness and the economic breakdowns are parts of its fabric and should be included in the Chronology.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But Poul Anderson himself eventually became dissatisfied with the Psychotechnic series. Some of the reasons being how actual technological developments did not occur as he had speculated. Another being the failure of the UN and Anderson's conviction that it has long since become a dangerous farce which should be abolished.