Thursday, 10 March 2016

Singhs In Space

I was pleased to find a Sikh in Poul Anderson's Terran Empire.

It is easy to increase our knowledge of a fictional world. The author needs only to write something new. Anderson's last novel to feature Dominic Flandry reveals for the first time the prior existence of two communities, the Dakotians and the Zacharians, and also tells us how earlier events in the Technic History had affected a man named Magnusson. Thus, earlier history is recapitulated and re-presented from a different perspective.

So far, I had found only three religions in Jerry Pournelle's Second Empire of Man. However, nowhere in the texts was it stated that there were only three religions and the sudden appearance of a man named Singh raises the possibility that this history also incorporates Sikhs. But not necessarily: googling the surname (here) reveals that it is not after all exclusive to Sikhs. Thus, although Pournelle has raised a possibility, he remains free to develop the hint in any direction he wants. (He probably does not intend to pursue the issue of Singhs but you never know!)


  1. Paul:
    H. Beam Piper's *Four-Day Planet* has brief involvement of a Sikh officer, Ranjit Singh, with his religion as a minor plot point: because he's obligated to have the *kirpan* (dagger) on him at all times, he won't insist that the participants in a meeting fully disarm. The narrator rather thinks disarming them all would reduce the chance of trouble, but....

    "Ranjit Singh was a man of dignity, and he respected the dignity of others." It's also said of him, "I believe he was honestly puzzled when he heard people talking about fear...."

  2. Hi, David!

    And the Navy officer who was a Sikh that we see in Chapter XVII of ENSIGN FLANDRY was also named Ranjit Singh!


  3. Sean:
    I believe this is because Ranjit Singh was the founder of the (short-lived, 1799 to 1849) Sikh Empire. I hate to sound critical of them, but it seems as if Piper and PA both just used a famous name for "generic Sikh guy." Though I could be wrong; I don't have enough information to judge how common the name "Ranjit" actually IS among Sikhs.

    1. Hi, David!

      Understood, what you said about Piper and Anderson finding it simplest using the given name of a very well known Sikh. Or, as you suspect, "Ranjit" might be a very commonly used name among Sikhs.