Friday, 13 September 2013


The "Great Swindle," mentioned in Poul Anderson's "The Moonrakers" (Beyond The Beyond, London, 1973), must, after all, occur between stories - unless there is yet another related story of which I am unaware, which I doubt. What happens in the earlier work, "The Innocent Arrival" by Poul and Karen Anderson, is that Peter Matheny, on a special mission from Mars to Earth, confirms that, although Terrestrials are formidable organization men, Matheny and his fellow colonials are lethal competitive individualists. Therefore, Martians can out-compete Terrestrials individually even if not collectively.

Further, Methany's competitive expertise lies precisely in confidence trickery. Thus, he loses a million to blackmailers but immediately recovers twice that amount from them and even dates the woman who had been used as bait. This successful mission must have laid the basis for the "Great Swindle" that was lucrative enough to fund the terraforming of Mars.

"The Innocent Arrival" is a humorous account of interactions between a handful of individuals in bars and a hotel room whereas its sequel is serious hard sf about orbits, Mars and the asteroids. Matheny's great-nephew, James Church, works another swindle by faking an extra-Solar attack, thus causing the militarization and consequent industrialization of the asteroids:

"'...feudalism and nomadism can't coexist with massive industry. Those Chiefs who don't manage to set themselves up as heads of companies will be squeezed out and abandoned by their own people.'" (p. 166)

So, thanks to Anderson's understanding of social processes, Church has quietly engineered a social revolution, ending asterite piracy.

Martians are such gamblers that the phrase "'Good luck'" (ibid.) has replaced "Good God" etc as an interjection. A Martian drink called "Thyle" is mentioned in the first story and a spaceship is called the "Queen o' Thyle" in the second.

"The Moonrakers" refers back to "The Innocent Arrival" and the following story in Beyond The Beyond, "Starfog," refers back to an entire series:

"'...the League, the troubles, the Empire, its fall, the Long Night...'" (p. 174)

However, a different effect is produced in the unsuspecting reader by placing these stories together, even ending one and beginning the next on the same page. "The Moonrakers" ends:

"'It's barely possible...that...humans will find a way themselves to reach the stars.'" (p. 166)

This is immediately followed by the title, "STARFOG" (ibid.), thus at least temporarily generating the impression that Church's faked extra-Solar attack was later followed by Daven Laure's interstellar travel.

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