Monday, 22 July 2013

An Alternative History Of Dominic Flandry

Right at the end of the original version of Poul Anderson's earliest written Dominic Flandry story, "Tiger by the Tail", Flandry tells the queen of a conquered species:

"'I suppose the [Terran] Empire is decadent. But there's no reason why it can't some day have a renaissance. When the vigorous new peoples such as yours are guided by the ancient wisdom of Terra, the Galaxy may see its greatest glory.'"

(Agent Of The Terran Empire, London, 1977. p. 36)

Of course, anyone who says something like this might simply be mistaken. Thus, the author, if incorporating this story into a "future history", would be under no obligation to write a "renaissance" into later episodes of the history. Nevertheless, anyone reading "Tiger by the Tail" as a one-off story is inclined to accept that, other things being equal, some kind of renaissance leading to greater galactic glory does lie in the future of these characters.

When Anderson not only wrote an entire Flandry series but also did incorporate this series into a future history, he rationalized the history with a theory that did not allow for any later renaissance and Flandry's naively optimistic speech about vigor guided by wisdom was omitted from the text of the revised version of "Tiger by the Tail". Thus, potentially, we have here two alternative future histories of Dominic Flandry.

Anderson underlines the difference between the two futures with an addition to the revised text. When the queen remarks that the Empire is not so bad if it has men like Flandry in it, Flandry, in the revised version, thinks:

"No...it's worse off..."

(Captain Flandry, Riverdale, NY, 2010, p. 276)

This thought, which he diplomatically keeps to himself, does in fact reflect what the Technic Civilization History tells us about subsequent events in Flandry's life time and later.

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