Sunday, 28 April 2013

Twilight World

My copy of Poul Anderson's Twilight World, published in London in 1984, says that the book was first published in the USA in 1983 and is copyright 1981 by Poul Anderson. However, that must have been a renewal of the copyright and this cannot be a complete publishing history because I am sure that I read (another copy of) this book while I was in my teens at secondary school in the 1960's. In fact, I am surprised that the copy in my possession is not still that earlier copy. I must have parted with it and later replaced it even though I have not subsequently reread the book.

There were at least three standard futuristic scenarios in science fiction:

interplanetary travel;
interstellar travel;
post-nuclear war Earth.

Anderson's Maurai future history and Twilight World are two examples of the third scenario. In fact, the latter is set after a mixture of atomic and bacteriological warfare:

atomic bombs;
radio-active dust bombs;
bacteria bombs;
blight bombs (p. 6).

In the five-part Prologue, the destruction has stopped because it has become impossible to continue it and the world is very slowly starting to recover with a large number of mutants in the population. The viewpoint character, Hugh Drummond, says:

"'...we can't go back to the old ways. We've got to start on a new track - a track of sanity.'" (p. 16)

In the 1960's, I was immature and uninformed enough to think that post-nuclear survival might be a great adventure, in that way similar to the space travel scenarios. It would mean the end of the society upheld by my elders and I did not regard such an ending as a bad thing. Of course, a nuclear winter would also mean the death of every blade of grass on Earth. Although that was not known then, I was certainly very superficial in thinking that there could be anything good in trying to survive after a nuclear exchange.

Anderson tried to imagine how people might survive and rebuild but not with any idea that this would be a good process to go through.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Actually, your copy of TWILIGHT WORLD was a reprint, the first edition being pub. by Dodd & Mead in 1961. And that book's individual parts first appeared as separate stories. Poul Anderson's "Tomorrow's Children" was first pub. in 1947 (alongside someone named F.N. Waldrop as co author).

I've tried more than once to find out more about this F.N. Waldrop, who apparently never wrote or helped to write another story. There's no entry for Waldrop in the Clutopedia and I simply can't find anything solid about him online.

Who was Waldrop? Was he a friend of Poul Anderson? Exactly what was his contribution to "Tomorrow's Children" and how much of that story was written by him? When was he born and is he still alive? Baffling!

I'm thinking of asking Greg Bear, Anderson's son in law, if he knows anything about F.N. Waldrop.


Paul Shackley said...

Thanks. How many parts were published individually before being collected?

Anonymous said...

Poul Anderson wrote an intro to the story somewhere (in an anthology of first stories by authors who later became famous, IIRC) explaining this. Anderson wrote the story; Waldrop was an acquaintance with whom he discussed what the effects of radiation might be. BTW, in his intro to an Anderson story ("Eutopia") in one of the DANGEROUS VISIONS books, Harlan Ellison wrote that all of Anderson's works were really written by Waldrop, whom Anderson had kept in bondage since 1947. Anderson wrote that he had never sent a copy of Ellison's jest to Waldrop, and was not sure whether he should.

Regards, Nicholas D. Rosen

Paul Shackley said...

Thank you, Nicholas.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Nicholas and Paul!

Nicholas, thanks for your comments about F.N. Waldrop. It does flesh our a bit how he contributed to "Tomorrow's Children," discussing with Anderson suggestions about how radiation damage might affect us genetically.

Paul, TWILIGHT WORLD was originally written in three parts. "Tomorrow's Childrn (with Waldrop) appeared in ASTOUNDING (1947). The second part "Chain of Logic" first appeared as well in that magazine later in the same year. The third and last part, "The Children of Fortune," was written for the Dodd & Mead first edtion of TWILIGHT WORLD.


Paul Shackley said...

Right. So "Tomorrow's Children" became "Prologue" and "Epilogue", which adds a longer historical perspective, was, like "The Children of Fortune", written for the book?