Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Communicators

I mentioned that the titles of the concluding three works collected in Poul Anderson's Dialogue With Darkness (New York, 1985) present the theme of conversation/dialogue/communication. I could also have mentioned that the title of the fourth last work is a message, "SOS."

The last story, "The Communicators," is, like "SOS," set in a Lunar Farside Station and it could even be the same Station - with a radio telescope but most of it underground - millennia later, after civilization has fallen and risen a few times.

Radio communication with half a dozen nearby extra-solar civilizations is a task for decades that become centuries so it is plausible that the Foundation for Extraterrestrial Communications has evolved into the transnational, quasi-religious Order of Communicators, able to survive wars and outlast empires.

"The Order endured, in its quest for understanding, because ultimately that quest was religious. Whatever name a communicator must give to God, including Void, his search across the cosmos was a search into the spirit." (p. 280)

Right. In addition, there is a hint of a theme from Golden Age Campbellian sf:

"...the difficulties [of communication] looked curiously similar - as if the human mentality differed radically from some galactic norm." (p. 292)

Astounding/Analog Editor John W Campbell espoused human superiority. However, a senior Communicator suggests that interstellar communication requires machine civilization which in turn presupposes order, rationality and universal logic in relation to which "[w]e are infants," not yet having experienced millennia of peace and sanity. (p. 292)

As ever, I must read on to learn what conclusion is reached.

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