Saturday, 30 November 2013

An Elder Race Of Great Galactics

When authors turn to humor, ideas that are usually presented seriously are recycled for comic effect. The idea of an Elder Race, an older and wiser civilized species, occurs several times in Poul Anderson's works. Usually, the Elder Race exists just as an idea in the minds of his characters although, with characteristic Andersonian thoroughness, we also encounter a real such  race in The Avatar.

But to return to the Elder Race as a mere idea, there is no Space Patrol in known space but nevertheless a potentially imperialistic race reports that its new space battleship was devastatingly attacked by a smaller ship of the Space Patrol. Alexander Jones must suppress the fact that that was his ship hijacked by Hokas enacting a TV space opera. One possibility suggested by Jones is that:

"...the affair is a case of mistaken identity, possibly involving some as yet unknown race."

- Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson, Earthman's Burden (New York, 1979), p. 90.

This suggestion is enthusiastically endorsed and extended by Jones' bureaucratic superior. The Council of the Interbeing League is informed that an undiscovered alien race knows English and possesses a Space Patrol whose observed actions have been beneficial. A search begins for these aliens provisionally regarded as " elder race of Great Galactics..." (p. 91) whose Observers maintain the Space Patrol and who will be able to teach the League much.

Thus is born a major myth...

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