Sunday, 19 March 2017

Return From London

After visiting London yersterday, I searched the blog for London and found a post that I had written after returning from a trip to London. See here. The city is like a museum.

London is mainly important in Poul Anderson's works as the location of Time Patrol headquarters for the current milieu just as New York is important because it is where Time Patrolman Manse Everard resides. We would like to see:

what is left of London when Earth and its Empire are ruled from Archopolis;
what becomes of London after SM Stirling's Change.

In the case of the Change, we are told that every large city, together with a wide area around it, has become a dead zone. No doubt. It would be interesting to read an account of nature reclaiming historic buildings. Also, small groups would be able to survive by scavenging among the buildings, then gardening and farming in the wildernesses that had previously been Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace Gardens, Kew Gardens etc. There must be a history not only of a city but also of what happens when the city is no more.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I think we can get some idea of what happened to London in the Technic Civilization stories from mention of things like "Chicago Integrate" in "The Master Key." London came to dominate the entire island of Britain as "London Integrate". No doubt with large open areas owned by some of the aristocracy in Imperial times. And I can imagine other areas being required by law to remain unurbanized and used only for agricultural purposes. But, most of the Island of Britain would still be "London Integrate."

    Besides the Mayor Palatine of Britain, I also wondered if the chief official of this Integrate would be called the Lord Governor of London Integrate (after the Lord Mayor of London).

    Unfortunately, London suffered a far worse and tragic fate in Stirling's Change books. As you've said, the instantaneous failure of high technology immediately cause and every other large city in Britain to become a Death Zone. We have to expect, ugh, about 99 percent of the population to have soon died. Except for the remnants led by a few leaders to offshore islands like Anglesey and Wight.

    I agree about the small groups of survivors restarting some KIND of life in the ruins of London. But Stirling warns us that most such neo-savages would be arguably quite insane as well as being cannibals. Altho I hope a TRADITION of cannibalism would not take root in Britain, as it did in the former US and other parts of the post-Change world.


    1. Sean,
      And even worse on the Earth of the Fall.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I'm not quite sure I agree, if you mean the post-Fall world of THE PESHAWAR LANCERS. We don't see an END to high technology in that book despite the agony, chaos, and collapses caused by the comet or comets which struck the Earth in the 1870's of that book. Enough leadership and organization survived for the British Empire, France, and Russia, etc., to again become going concerns, even if their central leaderships had to relocate. Unfortunately, we see Russia falling to very dark ideas and customs.


    3. I meant just the tradition of cannibalism.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      If you meant how worship of the Peacock Angel, Satan, led to the Russians believing human sacrifices and cannibalism was right, I agree.


  2. Kaor, Paul!

    As you know I no longer consider myself a fan of the works of Isaac Asimov. But I do relish some bits of what he wrote in various parts of his three original FOUNDATION books. The text I copied below came from Chapter 22 of FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE.

    After a prefatory paragraph about the new capital of the dying First Galactic Empire, Neotrantor, we see this: "Men even inhabited Old Trantor. Not many--a hundred million, perhaps, where fifty years before, forty billions had swarmed. The huge, metal world was in jagged splinters. The towering thrusts of the multi-towers from the single world-girdling base were torn and empty--still bearing the original blastholes and firegut--shards of the Great Sack of forty years earlier."

    The next paragraph reads: "It was strange that a world which had been the center of a Galaxy for two thousand years--that had ruled limitless space and been home to legislators and rulers whose whims spanned the parsecs--could die in a month. It was strange that a world which had been untouched through the vast conquering sweeps and retreats of a millennium, and equally untouched by the civil wars and palace revolutions of another millennium--should be dead at last. It was strange that the Glory of the Galaxy should be a rotting corpse."

    A little further on we read: "The millions left after the billions had died tore up the gleaming metal base of the planet and exposed soil that had not felt the touch of sun in a thousand years." And lastly, "Surrounded by the mechanical perfections of human efforts, encircled by the industrial marvels of mankind freed of the tyranny of environment--they returned to the land. In the huge traffic clearings, wheat and corn grew. In the shadow of the towers, sheep grazed."

    These ruminations on the fall and destruction of Old Trantor were inspired by your comments on the ruins of post-Change London. And are applicable, of course, to the ruins of all the other pre-Change cities.

    And, these quotes and reflections on the fall of Old Trantor also reminded me of Dominic Flandry's anxious and elegiac reflections on the future destruction of Admiralty Center (and by extension the Terra girdling city of Archopolis) in Chapter VI of WE CLAIM THESE STARS: "Admiralty Center gleamed, slim faerie spires in soft colors, reaching for the bright spring-time sky of Terra. You couldn't mount guard across 400 light years without millions of ships, and that meant millions of policy makers, scientists, strategists, co-ordinators, clerks...and they had families, which needed food, clothing, homes, schools, the heart of the Imperial Navy became a city in its own right. 'Damn company town,' thought Flandry. And yet, when the bombs finally roared out of space, when the barbarians howled among smashed buildings and the smoke of burning books hid dead men in tattered bright uniforms--when the Long Night came, as it would a century or a millennium hence, what difference?--something of beauty and gallantry would have departed the universe."

    And all this originally started simply from you reflecting on the ruins of London and other pre-Change cities in Stirling's Emberverse books! But the fate of Old Trantor and the probable fate of Archopolis is all too plausible.