Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Literary Links

Ian Fleming:

wrote some scripts for a proposed TV series to be set in Jamaica, then adapted the scripts as the novel, Dr No;

wrote three scripts for a proposed James Bond TV series, then adapted these scripts as short stories;

co-wrote a treatment for an original James Bond film, Thunderball, then novelized the treatment;

created, we are told, the flamboyant name of the central character of a TV series in which an international intelligence organization, the United Network Command for Law Enforcement, resists attempts at world domination by an evil organization combining features of Bond's SMERSH and SPECTRE.

The evil organization of the U.N.C.L.E. TV series either made use of or was controlled by (accounts differ) an "Ultimate Computer." (This phrase re-occurred as the title of a Star Trek episode.)

One of the original U.N.C.L.E. novels reveals that:

the villainous organization had been founded at a meeting in a late nineteenth century London hotel by the successors of a criminal mastermind called "the Professor";

the organization's familiar name was originally an acronym for a cumbersome phrase beginning "The Technological Hierarchy..."

This gives us one definite and another possible link to the works of Poul Anderson. The definite link is Holmesianism: creative references to Sherlock Holmes in other works of fiction. Anderson refers directly or indirectly to Holmes many times. For example, when a Time Patrolman mentions "Altamont," this refers to Holmes just as "the Professor" in the U.N.C.L.E. novel refers to Moriarty.

The other possible link is that, in Anderson's The Long Way Home, the Solar System is a "Technate" run by a computer, the Technon. However, the only connection here is the old idea of a computer running things. Although there are, genetically created, slaves in the Technate, there are also free Commoners whereas the Hierarchy would have enslaved the entire world population although, arguably, this would have made it difficult to maintain an advanced technology.

A world dictatorship without any external competitor would be a horrific despotism, which is perhaps what is described in 1984, where the three States only pretend to be at war. In fact, a member of the Hierarchy shows the U.N.C.L.E. Director that crucial line in 1984, "The object of power is power."

Anderson, like every comprehensive sf writer, shows us some future dictatorships as warnings, futures we don't want.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

While we (including Poul Anderson) might not like the Technate we see in THE LONG WAY HOME, I think it's only fair to say Anderson himself said the Technate was not that bad. I have in mind the Preface he wrote for the Gregg Press edition of THE LONG WAY HOME. As we see it, I didn't think the Technate horrendously bad. The chief problem is that after 2000 years of rule, it had become fossilized and hidebound.


Paul Shackley said...

That preface sounds interesting but it is not in my edition.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I was being lazy and should have quoted the relevant part of Anderson's "Introduction" for the 1978 Gregg Press edition of THE LONG WAY HOME. So, here goes: "You'll note where a born-and-bred slave, intelligent and well educated, argues in favor of slavery with the shocked hero. I intended the incident as a touch of character and background. After all, people usually do support the regime under which they live, if only passively. No government which lacked that kind of acceptance would last a day. It is a sad commentary on our species--a commentary I thought I was making--that by and large, the most monstrous tyrannies have been endured, yes, excused by their most immediate victims."

But I erred saying Anderson DIRECTLY said in this "Introduction" that the Technate was not all that bad. I now think he had Edward Langley saying that somewhere in the novel.