Friday, 11 December 2015
The Early Years Of Two Future Histories
Poul Anderson's The Infinite Voyage has arrived but meanwhile I have got back into rereading some early instalments of Anderson's Psychotechnic History. In Heinlein's Future History, the first four stories are set before space travel. In the Psychotechnic History, just the opening story, "Marius," is. Heinlein's first four stories show technological advances affecting familiar American society whereas "Marius" instead describes European partisans rebuilding among the ruins after World War III, but helped by automation.
In both Histories, Mars is both inhabited and colonized from Earth. Mars is a dry planet and this affects place names. Rhysling, the Blind Singer of the Spaceways:
"...holed up with the prospectors and archaeologists at How Far? for a month or so, and could probably have stayed forever in exchange for his songs and his accordion playing. But spacemen die if they stay in one place; he hooked a crawler over to Drywater again and thence to Marsopolis.
"The capital was well into its boom..."
-Robert Heinlein, "The Green Hills Of Earth" IN Heinlein, The Green Hills Of Earth (London, 1967), pp. 131-141 AT p. 135.
"Barney Rosenberg drove along a dim, rutted trail toward the sheer loom of the escarpment. Around its corner lay Drygulch."
-Poul Anderson, "Un-Man" IN Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981) pp. 31-129 AT p. 39.
Heinlein's History has the "Crazy Years" (The Man Who Sold The Moon, p. 7) between 1951 and the Strike of '66, also the "False Dawn" (ibid.), 1960-70, and the first rocket to the Moon in 1978, whereas the Psychotechnic History has Puritan fanatics emigrating to Mars during the Years of Madness.
"The Green Hills Of Earth" anticipates the freshness of an early age of interplanetary travel whereas Anderson, writing later, seems to be more familiar with space travel - even though it still remains a merely fictional concept.