Saturday, 29 June 2013

Fictional Universes

Fans of a multi-volume fictional universe like Middle Earth or Star Trek can immerse themselves in it imaginatively and intellectually so that they become able to discuss it endlessly in interactive media like fanzines and blogs.

Many people may not realize the extent to which it is possible to do this with Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization series. They might read and enjoy stories about van Rijn, Falkayn, the trader team or Flandry without fully appreciating the wealth of depth and detail that permeates almost every word of the texts.

I bought The Game Of Empire when it was published and thought then that it was a hastily written, superficial addendum to the career of Dominic Flandry. It would certainly have been written quickly because Anderson was able to do that but not carelessly. It encapsulates much of the information presented earlier in the Technic Civilization series and adds considerably more. It can be read quickly to follow the plot but there are many descriptive and background details that are almost certainly missed or quickly forgotten if read just once.

The opening paragraph introduces yet another colonized planet, and mentions another in the same system, and a new view point character and makes us feel what it would be like to live as part of a thriving, multi-species, frontier population. Like the opening chapters of Anderson's Mirkheim and The People Of The Wind, Chapter One conveys the sense of living in troubled times when a resident, Diana, informs the new arrival, Axor, that:

"'...we may be on the edge of a real war.'" (Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy, New York, 2012, p. 215)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I agree, Poul Anderson's Technic History series gives interested readers ample scope for imagining themselves actual persons in that time line, or detailed study and commentary on the texts. Which has been done, as you've said, to both the Middle Earth Mythos of JRR Tolkien and the Star Trek stories.

I've actually tried to find some fan fic set in the Technic History timeline. Alas, the examples I've seen are poor and not worth the trouble of reading. But some fan fictions set in Tolkien's Middle Earth were quite well done, I thought.