Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Council Of Hiawatha

Pages 103-107 of Poul Anderson's Mirkheim (London, 1978) summarize the Polesotechnic League's turning point Council of Hiawatha. It is impossible for me to summarize these pages here because they are already a highly condensed summary. I would be obliged simply to transcribe the entire three and a half page passage.

Anderson writes so skillfully that it is difficult for the reader to discern exactly where things went wrong at the Council. There are different points of view. Hotheads who want to resort to arms against the new interventionist legislative measures of the Solar Commonwealth government are shouted down but a boycott of the Commonwealth would be expensive, even ruinous. The laws are not all bad. Some are favorable to trade. By acquiescing within the Solar System, the League remains influential and can modify the legislation.

But the long term result is two cartels, the Home Companies entwined with the Solar government and the Seven in Space controlling extrasolar governments. A century later, there is civil war. What should the League have done at Hiawatha, from the Anderson/van Rijn point of view? Neither revolted nor acquiesced but continued to operate independently even if this had involved moving further out into space at that stage as van Rijn eventually does by leaving known space and Falkayn does by founding the colony on Avalon?

The speakers who are not heeded are those who argue for standing by the League principle of liberty. For me, the hero of the series is Falkayn who gives Mirkheim to the poorer planets and founds Avalon.

No comments: