Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sandra Miesel's Technic Civilization Chronology by Sean M Brooks

Several editions of the Technic Civilization stories of Poul Anderson (Gregg Press, Ace Books, Baen Books) have attached to them a chronology compiled by Sandra Miesel, an excellent commentator on the works of Anderson. This chronology lists in internal chronological order all the stories and novels of the Technic Civilization series through periods like that of the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire. Miesel also added many annalistic notes to her chronology.

For those who wish to read the Technic Civilization stories in chronological order, or merely to have a list of the stories in a correct temporal sequence, Sandra Miesel has done readers of Anderson's works a real favor. However, commentators like Dr. Paul Shackley have discovered inconsistencies in some of Miesel's proposed dates which contradicts what the texts says.

For example, Miesel dates the birth of Nicholas van Rijn to AD 2376 and the crucial Polesotechnic League's Council of Hiawatha to 2400. However, as discussed by Dr. Shackley in his note "Inconsistencies II," Nicholas van Rijn was born too late to have attended that council. The section of Chapter IX of MIRKHEIM which discussed the Council of Hiawatha ended with "But when a century had passed--". Nicholas van Rijn could not have attended that council because he was 80 years old at the time of the Mirkheim/Baburite crisis. He would need to have been, implausibly, well over a century in age.

I have no objection to keeping Miesel's dating of the Council of Hiawatha to 2400, but I believe dating van Rijn's birth to 2424 is more accurate. And since the Mirkheim/Baburite war came when van Rijn was 80 years old, that means it should be dated 2504 (not in 2456, Miesel's date). This has the advantage of not contradicting what Chapter IX of MIRKHEIM said about "But when a century had passed."

Another error in Miesel's chronology contradicting what the texts say are her dates for "Lodestar" and MIRKHEIM. She dates the events in "Lodestar" and MIRKHEIM to 2446 and 2456. However, the Prologue to MIRKHEIM emphatically dates the events in that book to EIGHTEEN, not 10, years after "Lodestar." My revision of her chronology dates those stories to 2486 and 2504.

The next major inconsistency in Miesel's chronology contradicting what the texts say came from her dating the foundation of the Terran Empire to the 28th century and the birth of Dominic Flandry to AD 3000. These dates clash with what Chapter 10 of ENSIGN FLANDRY says, as the Merseian prime minister Brechdan Ironrede was going to the Imperial embassy for an official reception: "His destination was another offense, a compound of residences and offices in the garish bubble style of the Imperium four hundred years ago." This indicates the Empire had existed for over four centuries by the time of ENSIGN FLANDRY (because it is reasonable to think schools of architecture needed some time after the Empire arose to become popular).

However, one problem with this dating is that we don't know how long the year of the planet Merseia was when compared to our Earth's year. We don't know whether it was longer or shorter than the Terran year. Nonetheless it does indicates the Empire was older than the three centuries or so her chronology gives it by the time of ENSIGN FLANDRY.

Moreover, Miesel herself contradicts her chronology when she wrote in her "Introduction" for THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND (Gregg Press: 1977): "The Empire is its third century when it moves against the Domain in its first aggressive campaign against a civilized foe." Another chronological indication can be found in Chapter 8 of Anderson's THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, as Ivar Frederiksen briefly summarized the history of relations between the Empire and the Domain of Ythri: "Still, it [the Domain] grew. So did Empire, Terra's, that is, till they met and clashed. Couple centuries ago, they fought." Now, if the Empire had existed a little over two centuries by the time of the Ythrian War and then that conflict was at least two centuries in the past by the time of THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, that can only mean it had lasted more than four centuries by then.

Therefore, I would argue for dating the birth of Dominic Flandry to AD 3100, not 3000 (the year Miesel chose). The later date better fits the chronological evidence I collected from the texts. I am still puzzled how Miesel could have missed, for example, such crucial indications as the Prologue of MIRKHEIM saying the Baburite war occurred 18 years after "Lodestar."

In addition, I suggested below that Josip died in 3142 rather than in 3141 (Miesel's date was 3041) because a slightly longer reign for that Emperor fitted better the background of the stories. That is, it gives more time for the events recorded in those stories to take place without being crowded together too tightly.

If the argument I gave above is correct, then that means many, not all, of the dates given by Miesel in her chronology needs to be changed. Mostly by proposing dates later than the ones she chose. In the chronology given by me below, the dates I advocate are given first while Miesel's dates are given in square brackets. For the most part I used the "Chronology of Technic Civilization" to be found in the Gregg Press edition of ENSIGN FLANDRY. I also thought it best, for simplicity's sake, to omit many of the annalistic notes added by Sandra Miesel. I omitted many bibliographical details for similar reasons.

The Breakup and the Polesotechnic League

2055 "The Saturn Game," ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION (cited as ASF), February, 1981

2150 "Wings of Victory," ASF, April, 1972

24th century "The Problem of Pain," FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, February, 1973

2400 The Council of Hiawatha

2424 [2376] Birth of Nicholas van Rijn

2454 [2406] Birth of David Falkayn

2464 [2416] "Margin of Profit," ASF, September, 1956

2470 [2416] "How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson," FUTURE QUEST, ed. Roger Elwood, Avon Books, 1974

2470 [2416] "The Three Cornered Wheel," ASF, October, 1963

2474 [2426] WAR OF THE WING MEN, Ace Books, 1958

2474 [2426] "Esau," ASF, February, 1970

2475 [2427] "Hiding Place," ASF, March, 1961

2475 [2427] "Territory," ASF, June, 1963

2480 [2426] "A Sun Invisible," ASF, April, 1966

2481 [2427] "The Trouble Twisters," as "Trader Team," ASF, July-August, 1965

2481 [2433] "Day of Burning," as "Supernova," ASF, January, 1967

3481 [2433] "The Master Key," ASF, July, 1964

2485 [2437] SATAN'S WORLD, Doubleday, 1969

2485 [2437] "A Little Knowledge," ASF, August 1971

2485 [2437] "The Season of Forgiveness," BOY'S LIFE, December, 1973

2486 [2446] "Lodestar," ASTOUNDING: THE JOHN W. CAMBPBELL MEMORIAL ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Harry Harrison, Random House, 1973

2504 [2456] MIRKHEIM, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977

Early 26th century [late 25th century], settlement of Avalon

26th century, "Wingless on Avalon," BOY'S LIFE, July, 1973

26th century, "Rescue on Avalon," in CHILDREN OF INFINITY, ed. Roger Elwood, Franklin Watts, 1973

26th century, dissolution of the Polesotechnic League

The Time of Troubles and the Terran Empire

2600-2700 [27th century] The Time of Troubles

Late 27th century, "The Star Plunderer," PLANET STORIES (cited as PS), September, 1952

2700 Manuel Argos founds the Terran Empire, Principate phase begins

28th century, "Sargasso of Lost Starships," PS, January, 1952

29th century, THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND, New American Library, 1973

29th century [30th C], Covenant of Alfzar

3100 [3000] Birth of Dominic Flandry

3119 [3019] ENSIGN FLANDRY, Chilton, 1966

3121 [3021] A CIRCUS OF HELLS, New American Library, 1971

3122 [3022] Josip succeeds Georgios as Emperor

3125 [3025] THE REBEL WORLDS, New American Library,1969

3127 [3027] "Outpost of Empire," GALAXY, December, 1967

3128 [3028] THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, Doubleday, 1973

3132 [3032] "Tiger by the Tail," PS, January, 1951

3133 [3033] "Honorable Enemies," FUTURE COMBINED WITH SCIENCE FICTION STORIES, May, 1951

3135 [3035] "The Game of Glory," VENTURE, March, 1958

3137 [3037] "A Message in Secret," as MAYDAY ORBIT, Ace Books, 1961

3138 [3038] "A Plague of Masters," as EARTHMAN, GO HOME, Ace Books, 1961

3140 [3040] WE CLAIM THESE STARS! (also HUNTERS OF THE SKY CAVE), Ace Books, 1959

3042 [3041] Hans Molitor succeeds Josip as Emperor after brief civil war, supplants short lived Imperial relative as Emperor.

3143 [3042] "Warriors from Nowhere," as "Ambassadors of Flesh," PS, Summer, 1954

3148 [3047] A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS, New American Library, 1975

3155 Dietrich succeeds Hans as Emperor

3157 Gerhart succeeds Dietrich as Emperor

3162 [3061] A STONE IN HEAVEN, Ace Books, 1979

3167 [3064] THE GAME OF EMPIRE, Baen Books, 1985

Early fourth millennium, the Empire enters its Dominate phase

Circa AD 3500, Fall of the Terran Empire, the Long Night begins. War, piracy, anarchy, economic collapse, and isolation devastate countless worlds.

The Long Night

3600 "A Tragedy of Errors," GALAXY, February, 1968

3900 THE NIGHT FACE, Ace Books, 1978

4000 "The Sharing of Flesh," GALAXY, December, 1968

7100 "Starfog," ASF, August, 1967


Speak NoEvil said...

In "The Three Cornered Wheel", page 11 of the book The Trouble Twisters, it states that Falkayn's age is 17. Hence, you will need to adjust Falkayn's birth year to either 2452 or 2453.

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you, Speak NoEvil!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, SpeakNoEvil!

First, I'm very delighted to get some commentary about one of my essays! I wish more readers would step out of the shadows to do so, and even to criticize my efforts! The best way to improve past and future articles would be by readers pointing out my mistakes.

First, I checked my copy of THE TROUBLETWISTERS, and you were right to say David Falkayn was aged 17 the first time we see him in the Technic Civilization stories. Second, and I'm not blaming you for something you did not know, I have revised this article on Sandra Miesel's chronology. This one, HERE, is the original, unrevised article. If you go to the "Poul Anderson Contributor Articles" section of Dr. Shackley's blog you will find my revised version of this essay.

Like you, I came to be dissatisfied with many of the dates I proposed as better than the ones Mrs. Miesel advocated. I came to think many of my dates were a little too late and I revised them to be a few years earlier. Instead of AD 2454 as David Falkayn's birth year, I decided 2451 was his correct birth year.

Now, apparently, I will have to make sure I'm still convinced the date I chose is correct!

Thanks! Sean M. Brooks