Saturday, 19 May 2012
The Van Rijn Show
Also set in this period according to Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization, is one last van Rijn story, "The Master Key." Van Rijn stories divide into those in which van Rijn is out in space and those in which he receives an employee's report back on Earth - and one in which both happen. Here, he is on Earth and the narration is complicated. Two earlier Technic History stories had featured first person narrators who were not the main protagonists. In "The Master Key," there are:
the narrator's friend;
the friend's son;
the son's ensign;
the son's and ensign's employer, van Rijn.
The son and the ensign recount their experience on a problem planet, Cain, to the other three who discuss the problem until van Rijn solves it. He discusses Cainite psychology and pronounces on human nature, a fitting conclusion both to this story and to the van Rijn series.
The narrator refers to three other planets previously "conquered" by van Rijn, thus alluding to three of the five previous installments of the van Rijn series. Van Rijn himself refers to the planet Tametha which will become problematic in the later trader team/van Rijn story, "Lodestar." Thus, the stories function as a "future history," cross-referring and providing background for each other.