Monday, 14 December 2015

The Psychotechnic History

Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History could probably be collected in two omnibus volumes, the first set before the invention of the hyperdrive, the second after. Volume I would begin with "Marius," before space travel, and end with "Brake," on the brink of the Second Dark Ages which, according to the Chronology, begin only thirty years later. Whereas Heinlein's Future History presents indentured servitude on a swampy Venus, the Psychotechnic History presents a bureaucratic dictatorship on a desert Venus. (In an independent work, Anderson presents genocide on an oceanic Venus.)

Volume II would begin with "Gypsy" which introduces the hyperdrive and describes the beginning of the Nomads. Vol II is set almost entirely outside the Solar System. 

In order to include every work listed in the Chronology, Volume I would collect eleven works, Vol II nine - although, for completeness, the latter would incorporate shorter and longer versions of "Virgin Planet." However, there is a question as to whether Anderson intended "The Chapter Ends" to be included in this series. If not and if this story were to be excluded, then Vol II would remain a lengthy and substantial collection and Star Ways/The Peregrine, featuring both the Nomads and the Coordination Service, would make an excellent conclusion or culmination of the series.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I would need to reread to speak more decisively, but I've been wondering if "The Critique of Impure Reason" also belongs in the Psychotechnic series. Anderson's background for that story has at least "parallels" to the undisputed Psychotechnic works, including things like "Citizen's Credit."

I also think "The Critique of Impure Reason" was at least partly meant to be humorous. I recall in memory how I thought parts of it were funny. Such as the conscious level computer/robot who became addicted to literary criticism and refused to do its proper job.


David Birr said...

Ummmm, Sean, I find it hard to imagine that anyone WOULDN'T think "Critique" was often funny, and intentionally funny, not by accident. The ludicrously overblown examples of what passed for literature ("Worms.... That's what we-uns all are, Billy Chile...." and Billy's response to this philosophizing is "Take off your clothes.") Or Janet being puzzled by the idea that a story could have intellectual content without being full of profanity. It was satire, perhaps, but it was HILARIOUS satire.

ndrosen said...

I also think that "Critique of Impure Reason" is hilarious, delightful satire.

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Sean M. Brooks said...

Greetings, David and Nicholas!

Oh, I agree! "The Critique of Impure Reason" was indeed delightful, hilarious satire. If I first spoke too cautiously it was because I had not read that story for a long time.

Current SF reading: A BORROWED MAN, by Gene Wolfe.