Thursday, 17 May 2012

Reading A Series In Chronological Order

Baen Books' The Technic Civilization Saga presents Poul Anderson's major future history, the History of Technic Civilization, in chronological order of fictitious events. The History is two long consecutive series. The pre-Flandry period of the History comprises the entire contents of Trader to the Stars, The Trouble Twisters, Satan's World, Mirkheim, The Earth Book of Stormgate and The People of the Wind plus three other stories (also War of the Wing Men but this was already incorporated into the Earth Book under its preferred title, "The Man Who Counts").

Merely rereading all these works in chronological order in uniform editions greatly enhances appreciation both of their contents and of their interconnections. It is like reading a new series. I am beginning to see the sense of the way the volumes are divided up but still dislike some of the volume titles. I now suggest that the pre-Flandry series could be collected as:

Beginnings, 9 stories including those introducing Nicholas van Rijn and David Falkayn;
Star Traders, 9 works covering the careers both of van Rijn and of his trader team led by Falkayn;
Late League, Early Empire, 6 works from the brief revival of the team to the pre-Flandry Terran Empire's war on Falkayn's colony, Avalon.


  1. I'm a zealous fan of the works of Poul Anderson, but I have to say whoever picked the cover illustrations for the Baen Books reprints of the Flandry stories goofed badly. The covers can only be called lurid and pornographic. They run the risk of scaring off people from reading fine, classic SF. Who would want to be seen in public with the Baen Books editions of the stories in YOUNG FLANDRY, CAPTAIN FLANDRY, and SIR DOMINIC FLANDRY?

    I urge readers not to be driven away by the awful covers Baen Books chose!

    Sean M. Brooks

  2. Yes, Dominic enjoys female company but not as depicted there. Also, these covers make him look like an uncultured thug. An illustrated novel and one or two other covers are truer to the physical descriptions in the books.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Correct, the awful covers for the three books L listed above makes Flandry look like a goon chased by hordes of naked bimbos. And Flandry was not at all a thuggish sybarite. I did rather like the cover for FLANDRY'S LEGACY, however. Showing a seated, pensive, and aging Flandry(with the young lady standing next to him apparently meant to be his daughter Diana).

      I assume you meant the Ace Books illustrated edition of A STONE IN HEAVEN. Yes, the artist has actually READ the book before doing those pictures. I especially like how he pictured Chives, Flandry, Emperor Gerhart, Miriam Abrams. My only complaint would be how, in my view, there were too many illustrations for STONE.


    2. Yes, STONE. Good covers and in this case also internal illustrations are visual art based on verbal art: brilliant if done properly. I like the cover of WORLD WITHOUT STARS.

    3. Hi, Paul!

      I googled, and I think you meant the cover painting Kelly Freas did for the Ace Books edition of WORLD WITHOUT STARS. Yes, I liked that cover illustration. Might even buy a copy just for the cover painting!

      But WORLD WITHOUT STARS was originally illustrated by Chesley Bonestell when it was first published in 1966 for ANALOG. Poul Anderson in the preface he wrote for the Gregg Press volume containing WORLD mentioned how much he liked Bonestell's work. I've looked, but I've not yet found the painting he did for THE ANCIENT GODS (original title for WORLD).

      An artist like Chesley Bonestell or Kelly Freas would have done a far better job for the Baen Books cover paintings of the Flandry books!