Thursday, 13 July 2017

From The Beginning To The End

The Beginning Of The Polesotechnic League
"The world's great age begins anew...
"We do not know where we are going. Nor do most of us care. For us it is enough that we are on our way."
-Poul Anderson, "Hiding Place" IN Anderson, The Van Rijn Method (Riverdale, NY, 2009), pp. 555-609 AT pp. 555-556.

The Beginning Of Its Decline
"...the philosophy and practice which once animated the Polesotechnic League...were becoming somewhat archaic, if not obsolete."
-Poul Anderson, "Esau" IN The Van Rijn Method, pp. 517-553 AT p. 517.

Approaching The End
"The League's self-regulation was breaking down, competition grew ever more literally cutthroat, and governments snarled not only at the capitalists but at each other. The Pax Mercatorica was drawing to an end and, while [Coya] had never wholly approved of it, she sometimes dreaded the future."
-Poul Anderson, "Lodestar" IN Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), pp. 368-408 AT p. 385.

Unfortunately, "Esau" appears immediately before "Hiding Place" in The Van Rijn Method. However, the introduction to "Hiding Place," attributed to "Le Matelot," which I quoted, could be moved to much earlier in the volume.

These passages show the rise and decline of an era far more effectively than Hari Seldon's mathematical predictions of the Fall of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. And Anderson does it again later in his Technic History: Manuel Argos founds the Terran Empire and Dominic Flandry lives through its decline.

All hail, Poul Anderson!


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I think I see what you mean. "Hiding Place," both from its "mood" and plot, FEELS like it should be earlier than "Esau"?

    Yes, guided first by philosophers like Tonybee, Spengler, and Eric Vogelin, and then, crucially, John K. Hord, Anderson's Technic Civilization stories were much more plausible in many, many than Asimov's Foundation series. I simply could not continue to think plausible impossibilities like Hari Seldon's "mathematics" predicting the fall of the First Galactic Empire and the rise of its successor.


    1. Sean,
      The introduction to "Hiding Place" says "The world's great age begins anew..." whereas Hloch's introduction to "Esau" says that League practices were becoming obsolete.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Aha, meaning I should have remembered that Hloch was writing much later than the events recorded in "Hiding Place" and "Esau."


  2. Of course, Poul also understood that no age is all of a piece, and historical change is uneven.

    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Exactly! Again, you brought out more clearly what I was awkwardly trying to say.