Friday, 25 March 2016
Contrasts And Continuities
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.
Stapledon's seventeen successive sapient species, including winged Venerians and Neptunian Last Men, then his Cosmic Mind and Star Maker;
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;
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.)