Friday, 25 March 2016

Contrasts And Continuities

(Good Friday. Good weather. Long walk along the River Lune. See image.)

I am impressed by the contrast yet continuity between HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come and Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars franchise universe, also by the extent of Poul Anderson's contribution to this literary sequence:

not just one future history but eight or nine and of different types;

a Man-Kzin Wars trilogy that is a sequel to Jerry Pournelle's and SM Stirling's Man-Kzin Wars trilogy;

one War World work.

Wells presents twentieth century conflicts and a twenty first century resolution, a World State, as do some American future historians - the Space Patrol,  the Un-Men, the ARM etc. The Man-Kzin Wars are an interstellar conflict with a longer term resolution: tamer kzinti, although don't tell them that. The kzinti are like the barbarians in Anderson's Technic History, savages given spaceships and nuclear weapons by another race. Trotsky called this "uneven but combined development": Native Americans given rifles by Europeans; large factories in Tsarist Russia - serfs proletarianized in a single generation; not gradual change but sudden upheaval and social revolution.

Contemplate:

Wells' airmen;
Stapledon's seventeen successive sapient species, including winged Venerians and Neptunian Last Men, then his Cosmic Mind and Star Maker;
Heinlein's astrogators;
Bradbury's Martians;
Asimov's robots and psychohistorians;
Blish's medieval monks, modern magicians, Lithians, Okies, pantropists, Angels, Traitors and Service agents;
Anderson's Un-Men, Ythrians, Maurai, asterites, Rustumites, Kith and sophotects;
Niven's Belters, ARM's, kzinti and protectors;
Pournelle's mercenaries;
Niven's and Pournelle's Moties -

- and, in the words of one Blish character, go with God! (In fact, He is already on the list.)

3 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I have to disagree with this comment of yours about Russia: "large factories in Tsarist Russia - proletarianized in a single generation; not gradual change but sudden upheaval and social revolution." ABSENT the stresses and strains caused by WW I, and the mistakes made by a weak Tsar, I see no reason why Russia should not have continued along the paths laid out by Count Sergei Witte, Peter Stolypin, and Count Kokovtsov. That is: reform, modernization, developing of a constitutional monarchy, etc.

    Sean

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  2. Sean,
    I agree that events would not necessarily have led to October 1917 but I think that industrialization, reform and modernization were themselves revolutionary in Tsarist Russia.
    Paul.

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    Replies
    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I agree with your definition of "revolutionary." I simply think the ideas and policies of the three men I listed showed what would have been a far better path for Russia (and the world!) than what we actually got.

      Sean

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