Monday, 16 October 2017

Chase The Morning

Our Jewish merchant quotes the poem ending:

"'Thy merchants chase the morning down the sea!"
-SM Stirling, The Golden Princess (New York, 2015), Chapter Nineteen, p. 487.

We must refer to previous encounters with this poem: see here.

This has become a catch-phrase on the blog comparable to:

"Ten leagues beyond the wide world's end
"Methinks it is no journey." See here.

Mack Reynolds

Someone else that I have read very little of: Mack Reynolds. Does one of his series count as a future history? Reynolds is comparable to Poul Anderson in that he addressed socioeconomic issues in sf but contrasts with Anderson by virtue of holding opposite political views but again is comparable in apparently regarding utopian societies as problematic.

I read one Reynolds novel in which religious liturgy in an arcane language was cynically regarded as deliberate mystification: a superficial analysis sharply contrasting with Anderson's empathetic treatment of religious beliefs and practices, whether Catholic or Buddhist.

And that is all that I can say about Reynolds but some blog readers will know more. Poul Anderson covers a universe of issues, thus connecting with a very wide range of other authors.


We have been comparing Poul Anderson with other future historians so here are some more:

Olaf Stapledon's Last Men future history has Martians invading Earth;
ERB's Moon Maid future history has Martians communicating with Earth and Moon Men invading Earth;
Wells and Anderson each have Martians invading Earth in a separate novel;
Clifford Simak's City future history has a Jovian exploration story comparable to Anderson's "Call Me Joe" and James Blish's "Bridge";
ERB's Jupiter story is "Skeleton Men of Jupiter";
ERB's future history is a small part of his fictional universe that also includes Tarzan, John Carter, Pellucidar, Venus, the Land that Time Forgot and an extra-solar planet.

The main comparative points here are:

interplanetary invasions (Wells, Stapledon, Burroughs and Anderson);
Jovian expeditions (Burroughs, Simak, Blish and Anderson).

History And Time

Do H. Beam Piper's Terro-Human Future History and Paratime Police series approximately correspond to  Poul Anderson's Technic History and Time Patrol series, respectively? The Paratime Police travel between parallel timelines whereas the Time Patrol travels through time. However, both series address the question of alternative histories so there most basic premise is identical. I bought a copy of Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen but never got into it.

(Short post at Motorway Services.)


Both Herbert and Anderson have an interstellar Empire. However, Anderson shows us Imperial rise and decline plus before and after.

Anderson shows us many imaginative intelligent species interacting with each other whereas Herbert, like Asimov, presents a humans only galaxy albeit with human beings altered in various ways.

The Dune series seems to have continued because books with the word "Dune" in the title sold whereas readers had to recognize which works belonged to Anderson's Psychotechnic and Technic Histories. Anderson's Harvest Of Stars Tetralogy continued because its author had more to say about that future history.

Sunday, 15 October 2017


I have read none of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover future history. Comments would be welcome. There are superficial similarities to Poul Anderson's Technic History:

Terrestrials colonize extra-solar planets;
one colony is isolated and develops independently;
eventually, it is recontacted by an interstellar Terran Empire.

Some future histories focus on a single colonized planet:

Anderson's Rustum, although see also Roland;
Heorot by Niven, Pournelle and Barnes, although Niven's Destiny's Road is set on another planet in the same history.

This and the previous post focus on works that are not known by the current blogger - who will return to Lancaster tomorrow, hopefully avoiding high winds forecast for the western coast of the UK.

The Institute And The Instrumentality

There are some formal parallels between Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History and Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind future history. Both series:

can be complete in two volumes;
cover millennia of future history;
begin in the aftermath of a nuclear war;
feature an organization that addresses the long term development of mankind and that presides for a while over a sterile utopia.

Are these parallels accurate and are there any others? I have read some Instrumentality stories in the past but have not been drawn into the series. In fact, it does not sound as realistic or plausible a history as any of Poul Anderson's several future history series. However, blog readers who have read both series in full might say more.

Incomplete Time Travel Stories

Many of us appreciate and analyze fiction but cannot write it. Perhaps everyone would be able to write something: a short autobiography or a poem?

It is worthwhile at least to attempt fiction writing if only to gain a keener appreciation of what is involved. My two attempts at time travel stories, to be found on the Logic of Time Travel blog, are:

Yossi, the Time Traveller
Time Travel Memoirs Fragments

Other notions:

The (Time) Patrol asks an agent to live through the 1950s and 1960s in the town where he grew up. He sees his family, including his younger self, at church. How would the daily news appear to someone who already knew the outcome of each new crisis/storm in a tea cup?

A historical fiction/futuristic sf/time travel trilogy: the time travel novel reveals that a character in the historical novel is a disguised time traveler from the future period.

A time traveler knows that he will get back together with his estranged girl friend because he has glimpsed them together older and looking happy but does not know when or how.

The masked head of the Secret Intelligence Time Travel Section tells an agent to travel several decades into the past on a unique mission, to found the Section. Taking off his mask, he says, "You will need this."

Saturday, 14 October 2017


Three works by Poul Anderson feature virtual realities experienced by AI programs which think that they are human beings. However, Anderson did not write any story about such programs beginning to doubt the reality of their perceived environments. That kind of existential question is the province of Philip K. Dick.

In Anderson's Genesis, two uploaded personalities are in no doubt as to the nature of their "emulated" environment. However, each of these personalities remains a conscious and intelligent being able to converse with the other through an emulated body as effectively as s/he had been able to converse with other human beings using a material body when alive.

On the other hand, each upload is a copy of the personality made shortly before his or her physical death. If that original self-conscious individual survived into a hereafter, then the surviving soul is different from the uploaded copy.

Philip K. Dick

I regularly compare Poul Anderson with certain sf writers but not with others, e.g., I am not a big fan of Philip K. Dick. I have just read the opening pages of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, set not in the twenty first century but in 1992. (I think that Dick sometimes made the point that the future is nearer than we think, like Wells pointing out that the protagonists of The Shape Of Things To Come must already be young adults at the time when the book is being published.)

Dick addressed a big philosophical question, reality versus appearance, but did he also deploy the kind of knowledge of history, science etc that we find in Anderson's works? Comments on Dick's sf would be welcome.