Thursday, 16 March 2017
Robert Heinlein's Double Star (New York, 1957) begins:
"If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he owned the place, he's a spaceman." (p. 5)
On the opening page of Poul Anderson's World Without Stars (New York, 1966), Chapter II, we read:
"...starports are necessary." (p. 7)
(Chapter I is a short introduction from an alien viewpoint.)
Years ago, both of these opening passages would have got my attention because both established that here was a society with regular space travel. But what kind of society and what kind of space travel? They are completely different. Still on p. 5, Heinlein's first person narrator spends his "...last half-Imperial...," buying a drink for the spaceman. So the unit of currency is not the dollar or the pound sterling but the Imperial. Indeed, we will learn that there is an Emperor, also that the space travel is merely interplanetary.
Anderson's p. 7 tells us that:
there are extrasolar colonies;
there are "multisense tapes";
the original colonists of a planet are still alive centuries later;
theoretically, every point in space is as close as any other;
travel is possible not only between the inner and outer parts of a spiral arm but even to "...really remote galaxies."
This is a very different civilization and a completely different order of magnitude of space travel.