Monday, 17 October 2016

Greater Green Hills

By now I assume some knowledge of Poul Anderson's Technic History on the part of blog readers. For example, the previous post referred without explanation to Valenderay, the supernova that would have destroyed Merseian civilization, and to Supermetals, the company that mined Mirkheim. But what is Mirkheim? And why does its mere existence become a political issue and a casus belli?

Poul Anderson's The Earth Book Of Stormgate is like a greater The Green Hills Of Earth. The latter is Volume II of Robert Heinlein's Future History. In the Future History, there is a period of interplanetary economic expansion between the first Moon landing and the Prophetic Interregnum. In the Technic History, there is a period of interstellar economic expansion between the discovery of the hyperdrive and the Time of Troubles. Heinlein shows us people living on the Moon and elsewhere in the Solar System during his first interplanetary period. Anderson shows us people living on, e.g., Earth and Avalon during his first interstellar period. In both Histories, several characters appear in only one story and sometimes narrate in the first person. They live sometimes ordinary lives within the fictitious history.

The Earth Book covers a greater volume of space and time and is more substantial in several respects. Like The Green Hills..., it is a collection of previously published works. However:

it also contains new material in the form of introductions and a conclusion notionally written by the Ythrian historian, Hloch;
its stories include installments of two series, about Nicholas van Rijn and his trader team, and even one complete van Rijn novel;
it has to be read in conjunction with three other novels -

the story, "Lodestar," informs us that some of its episodes "...happened shortly after the Satan episode...," (David Falkayn: Star Trader, 2010, p. 639), which is described in Satan's World;

Hloch's Afterword to "Lodestar," begins by telling us that the events of Mirkheim are "...everyone's knowledge..." (Rise Of The Terran Empire, New York, 2011, p. 293);

Hloch's entire commentary is written on Avalon shortly after the Terran War on that planet, which is described in The People Of The Wind.

Heinlein created the future history series format and I suggest that Anderson perfected it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Anderson's THE EARTHBOOK OF STORMGATE a greater work than Heinlein's THE GREEN HILLS OF EARTH? I agree!