Wednesday, 26 June 2013
A Planet In Space
Each is a futuristic sf novel featuring faster than light interstellar travel through hyperspace and a human interstellar empire that parallels the Roman Empire, even to the extent of, literally, an enthroned Emperor;
each is a single volume of a long future history series;
each of these future histories is an amalgamation of two previously independent series;
thus, each features a pre-Imperial period followed by the long rise, decline and eventual Fall of the Empire;
in both series, a theoretician predicts the Fall and an attempt is made to prepare planetary populations for the subsequent chaos and barbarism;
in both cases, we see something of the post-Imperial period.
The differences are far greater than the similarities:
Anderson writes better prose and novels with better characterization;
Asimov presents a humans only galaxy whereas Anderson imaginatively describes many other intelligent species;
Anderson realizes that even terrestroid planets will not necessarily be places where human beings can simply breathe the air and drink the water etc without needing dietary supplements, environmental modifications etc;
Asimov's hyperspace is an unexplained sf cliche whereas Anderson plausibly rationalizes his as millions of quantum jumps per second;
Anderson understands religion and treats it sympathetically whereas the only religion in Asimov's future history is a cynical social manipulation that has not happened in any real history;
Asimov's Hari Seldon is a mathematician who predicts the Fall because sufficiently large populations are predictable in the way that mechanical interactions between macroscopic objects are predictable despite the randomness of individual particles whereas Anderson's Chunderban Desai is, more plausibly, a student of Terrestrial history;
Anderson applies a real, complex theory of history to his fiction and manages to say something substantial and interesting about how societies change and develop;
Seldon schemes to manipulate society in order to reduce the period of the interregnum whereas Anderson's Flandry, again more plausibly, just tries to prolong the Empire.
Why do I keep dumping on Asimov? Would any Asimov fan like to reply?