Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Planet In Space II

To continue the comparison:

(i) Poul Anderson's 400 light year diameter Terran Empire a thousand years in our future is like a less implausible version of Isaac Asimov's galaxy-wide Galactic Empire tens of thousands of years hence.

(ii) Asimov wanted a galactic population only to make psychohistorical predictions mathematically accurate, which they wouldn't be anyway. Thus, he gave the impression of millions of planets with identical environments and interchangeable inhabitants whereas Anderson presented variety and complexity in his imagined environments, including even details of planetary masses and orbits and local equivalents of grass.

(iii) Anderson's earliest attempt at a future history had already addressed the Heinleinian themes of a future history with a time chart, the quest for physical immortality and slower than light multi-generation interstellar spaceships and the Asimovian themes of humanoid robots and a practical science of society.

(iv) Asimov's future history was stretched and diluted by the addition of extra volumes by other authors. I used to think that a multi-authored future history would be a good idea and maybe it would be in theory but Heinlein's Future History and Anderson's Technic History each works perfectly with its single author.

For all these reasons, the History of Technic Civilization deserves to be more widely read and better known than the Foundation Trilogy.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I'm reminded of A WORLD NAMED CLEOPATRA, to which Poul Anderson contributed an essay and a short story titled "The Serpent in Eden." I would call this a "mini" shared world round robin with contributions by various authors. Alas, only Anderson's story was good and interesting to read.

I think MURASAKI was a more successful round robin shared world anthology. Other autnors besides Anderson contributed stories worth reading.

And, yes, the great care Anderson took with SCIENTIFICALLY describing the worlds he sets his stories on is a major readon why he was so successful a writer.