Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cordies And Nomads

In Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, the Coordinators of the Stellar Union regard the Nomads as disruptive of interstellar civilization because:

"'They go everywhere and do anything, with no thought of the consequences.'"
- Poul Anderson, The Peregrine (New York, 1959), p. 30.

- although, to Anderson, this is freedom and valuable human diversity.

However, Coordinator Trevelyan Micah, quoted above, later says:

"'...I'm beginning to think that a healthy culture needs such a devil.'" (p. 168)

This is after, during a mission for the Coordination Service, he has spent time in a Nomad ship, cooperated with the Nomads against the Alori and become involved with a Nomad woman. His solution to the contradiction between Coordination and Nomadism is for him to become a Nomad, using his abilities to "...become a power among the ships and influence what they did." (ibid.)

Clearly, he has a personal motive for marrying into a Nomad ship but I am skeptical of his expectations that "...other Coordinators would be adopted, too..." (ibid.) and that:

"They would give Nomad life a direction and a restraint that it lacked and needed, quietly, without disrupting its spirit." (pp. 168-169)

But this synthesis effectively concludes the Psychotechnic History. The single work that is listed as occurring later in this History, "The Chapter Ends," is set in a much later period and makes no reference to any earlier events of the History. Indeed, its references to Sol City and the First Empire would instead connect it with "The Star Plunderer" which, we are to understand, is part of Anderson's later Technic Civilization History. References in "The Chapter Ends" to psychotechnicians are not a sufficient link because similar references occur in other works by Anderson.

Terminology is confusing. Technic Civilization includes a Polesotechnic League and a book featuring the Psychotechnic Institute is inappropriately called The Psychotechnic League.

The Peregrine informs us that:

"There had been no economic reason for the outward surge of man when the hyperdrive was invented..." (p. 24)

So why did they go? An earlier story in the history,
"Quixote and the Windmill," had shown us high unemployment on Earth caused by automation and robotics. People left Earth because:

"They wanted to be of use...providing a living for themselves and their children." (ibid.)

That leaves Earth occupied by artists, scientists, educators and Coordinators.

The hyperdrive of the Psychotechnic History involves multiple dimensions whereas the hyperdrive of the Technic History is, ingeniously, a series of quantum jumps through three dimensional space.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Altho set FAR into the future, "The Chapter Ends" does not really fits well into the Psychotechnic League series, IMO. The story is one of Anderson's early works and shows him using ideas and themes I don't think fits very well into the Psychotechnic League timeline. But it would be unfair to expect perfect consistency of any writer!

Anderson himself became dissatisfied with the Pyshotechnic League timeline/series. But his work in it had provided invaluable training which he used very well for other series: the Technic History, HARVEST OF STARS, etc.