Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Innocent Arrival And The Moonrakers

Poul Anderson's "The Moonrakers" (Beyond The Beyond, London, 1973) was unsatisfactory, at least to me, the first time I read it because it referred to events that had occurred between our pre-space travel present and the story's interplanetary future but did not tell the reader where he could read about those intermediate events or even confirm that they had been recounted in any published text. However, see the comments to the previous post.

James Church in "The Moonrakers" says, "Matheny was a great-uncle of mine..." (p. 150). That completely opaque statement makes sense when we discover that Peter Matheny, together with discussion of the financial poverty of a Martian colony, features in "The Innocent Arrival" by Poul and Karen Anderson, which is included in their collection, The Unicorn Trade (New York, 1984). This collection is a mixed bag, to say the least, but its main emphasis is on fantasy, as its cover demonstrates, so it is the last place where I would have searched for a prequel to the hard sf short story, "The Moonrakers."

I will shortly read "The Innocent Arrival," I think for the first time, before returning to "The Moonrakers," which is now making a lot more future historical sense. Some initial comments on "The Moonrakers": it is solid Andersonian economics, politics and sociology in a hard sf setting. As usual, Anderson applies his knowledge of history to a speculative future. Having just read about the Nomads in his Psychotechnic History, we now read Church's comparison of the asterites, asteroid colonists (Larry Niven says "Belters"), with ancient nomads. The latter were not progenitors but offshoots of civilization - survivors and warriors.

An enthroned asterite Chief of the Keep is described as a throwback to earlier times on Earth although his opulent cave is like a forerunner of the exotic lairs of Anderson's much later Selenarchs.

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