Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Night Face: Conclusion

(From Monday 5 May until Friday 9 May, I will be on the Isle of Wight, away from a computer.)

In Poul Anderson's The Night Face, we sympathize with Miguel Tolteca, the Nuevamerican mercantile democrat, against Raven, the Lochlanna military aristocrat, but it is Raven that gets it right. Tolteca accuses Raven of not respecting the Gwydiona culture but it is Raven who, by his persistent questioning, solves the mystery of that culture. The bewildered Tolteca gets people killed by trying to reason with (temporary) madmen whereas Raven understands enough to address them with myths, then knows how to fight when this does not work. He does not expect to survive but enables the incompetent Tolteca and the rest of the spaceship crew to escape.

Anderson skillfully makes his readers sympathize with Tolteca, then see that he is wrong.

What the Gwydiona call "God" is not a religious or mystical experience but annual collective insanity. They have learned to protect themselves and each other as far as possible and to channel their homicidal urges through myth, dance, chanting and ritual - although Tolteca's uncomprehending interference upsets the apple cart.

This ending is brilliant but some readers (at least one) would have liked to read about a genuine mystical experience. In Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall," the people of the planet Lagash all go mad together when the nearby giant stars of an entire cluster appear in their sky once every two thousand years. Could some of them not instead have experienced mystical oneness with the cosmos and emerged saner afterwards?

Words And Texts

Sometimes one book reminds us of another, then reflection reveals the similarities. When a Superman comic had reminded me of a Robert Heinlein novel, I was surprised to realize the similarities: both works had a lunar setting and both referred to parallel universes.

Poul Anderson's The Night Face made me think of the science fiction-based superhero series, Green Lantern. Both works involve regular faster than light interstellar travel and a mysterious planet, peaceful but with a hidden conflict. This description makes them sound closely parallel, which is entirely misleading. In fact, it was another minor feature of The Night Face that initially evoked Green Lantern.

Any word can have a specific denotation, a general connotation and accidental associations. Thus, the phrase, "the Pope":

denotes the present incumbent, Bergoglio;
connotes an entire historical institution in the Catholic Church;
reminds me of my single visit to Rome decades ago.

An author skilfully deploys denotations and connotations but cannot control the accidental associations in his readers' minds. By the same token, a reader must not let his associations get in the way of the author's meaning. That I disliked something in Rome is irrelevant when reading an account of a Pope.

The unusual word "Oa" is the name of the mysterious planet in Green Lantern and is also an interjection used by a character in The Night Face. Associations cannot be more accidental than that.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra

Volume VI of Baen Books' The Technic Civilization Saga by Poul Anderson, compiled by Hank Davis, is Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), which collects:

"The Plague of Masters" (pp. 1-147);
"Hunters of the Sky Cave" (pp. 149-301);
"The Warriors from Nowhere" (pp. 303-337);
"A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows" (pp. 339-606).

Just four works, all about Flandry, three of them novels. "The Warriors from Nowhere", a very short story, can retroactively be regarded as a mere prelude to "A Knight..." Thus, Volume VI is effectively a Flandry trilogy, like Vol IV, Young Flandry. Given the parameters of the Saga, I can understand the rationale for Sir Dominic...

However, "The Plague of Masters" is a direct sequel to "A Message in Secret" and, I think, belongs with it. "A Knight..." is a sequel to the original Flandry series and is the first of three novels featuring sons or daughters of characters introduced in the first Flandry novel. I think that these three "Children of Empire" novels belong together and that the following four post-Flandry works should have a volume to themselves.

Thus, although I recognize that Sir Dominic... is a solid Flandry omnibus collection, I still have reasons to prefer a different way of dividing up Anderson's History of Technic Civilization.

God and Alien In Anderson's Technic Civilization by Sean M Brooks

Anyone who has read Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization stories and novels (set in the eras of the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire) will recall how, from time to time, mention is made both of the continuing influence of Christianity and how some non human rational beings converted to Christianity.  Among other things, it means Anderson took as one of his premises the Church deciding that aliens could be baptized.  Some stories also show Buddhism becoming popular with various aliens.

I should cite some evidence to back what I said in the preceding paragraph.  In Chapter VII of A KNIGHT  OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS, as Dominic Flandry was landing on the planet Diomedes, this is how the non human port master at the town of Thursday Landing was described: "He was an autochthon, a handsome creature by any standards.  The size of a short man, he stood on backward-bending, talon footed legs.  Brown-furred, the slim body ran out to a broad tail which ended in a fleshy rudder; at its middle, arms and hands were curiously anthropoid; above a massive chest, a long neck bore a round head--high, ridged brow, golden eyes with nictitating membranes, blunt-nosed black muzzled face with fangs and whiskers suggestive of a cat, no external ears but a crest of muscle on top of the skull. From his upper shoulders grew the bat wings, their six-meter span now folded.  He wore a belt to support a pouch, a brassard of authority, and, yes, a crucifix."

Note that last point, the Diomedean was carrying a crucifix, a very well known and prominent Christian symbol.  For any person to do so plainly means he believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Almost certainly, this port master was a baptized Christian.  I also got the impression that Flandry did not think it unusually surprising, in context, to meet a non human with a crucifix.

A prominent character in THE GAME OF EMPIRE is the draco-centauroid non human from the planet Woden named Francis Xavier Axor, a convert to Christianity and Catholic priest. Fr Axor said he studied archaeology in his youth, mentioning off planet scholars coming to excavate the "Foredweller" ruins found on Woden. Axor and his colleagues in the Galilean Order then tied those archaeological excavations to speculations about the Incarnation of Christ occurring on other planets.

When I first read THE GAME OF EMPIRE in 1985, the Galilean Order immediately reminded me of the Jesuits, because of Axor's comment about the Galileans interest in the sciences.  The Jesuits have produced many scholars and scientists.  The Augustinians and Benedictines also came to mind.

Readers who have read the first chapter of THE GAME OF EMPIRE may be reminded of C.S. Lewis' essay "Religion and Rocketry," which can be found in the collection called THE WORLD'S LAST NIGHT AND OTHER ESSAYS (Harvest/HBJ).  A few quotes from that paper seems in order.

From page 86:

If there are species, and rational species, other than man, are any, or all of them, like us, fallen?  This is the point non-Christians always seem to forget. They seem to think the Incarnation implies some particular merit or excellence in humanity.  But of course it implies just the reverse; a particular demerit and depravity.  No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed. They that are whole need not the physician.  Christ died for man precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.  Notice what waves of utterly unwarranted hypothesis these critics of Christianity want us to swim through.  We are now supposing the fall of hypothetically rational creatures
whose mere existence is hypothetical!

Lewis was absolutely correct to say that Our Lord became Incarnate as man NOT because of any merit on our part, but because of our depravity.  His comments reminded me of what Fr. Axor said in Chapter 1 of THE GAME OF EMPIRE:

"For see you, young person, some three thousand standard years have passed since Our Lord Jesus Christ walked upon Terra and brought the offer of salvation to fallen man.  Subsequently, upstart humankind has gone forth into the light-years, and with Technic civilization has traveled faith to race after race after race."

Many things are left unstated here, as part of a background both Fr. Axor and Diana Crowfeather understood and took for granted.  Knowledge of the existence of Christianity and its beliefs, a faster than light means of reaching the stars (else it simply would not be possible for mankind to both settle other planets and spread the Faith), the rise of an interstellar civilization enabling these things to happen, non human rational beings coming to believe in Christ, etc.

Fr. Axor goes on to say:

"About such independently space faring beings as the Ymirites, one dares say nothing.  They are too alien.  It may be that they are not fallen and thus have no need of the Word.  But painfully plain it is that every oxygen-breathing species ever encountered is in no state of grace, but prone to sin, error, and death."

I disagree with Fr. Axor's comments about the Ymirites.  The way a Ymirite tried to kill Dominic Flandry (see Chapters IV and V of WE CLAIM THESE STARS!) on the planet Jupiter makes me extremely doubtful Ymirites are un-Fallen.  I do agree that hydrogen breathers living on high pressure/gravity worlds like Jupiter are too alien for oxygen breathers to easily or often interact with.  And the comment about every oxygen breathing race encountered by mankind being "prone to sin, error, and death" has many theological implications.  Which led me to the next quote from Lewis' essay "Religion and Rocketry" (page 86 of THE WORLD'S LAST NIGHT AND OTHER ESSAYS).

If all of them (and surely all is a long shot) or any of them have fallen have they been denied Redemption by the Incarnation and Passion of Christ?  For of course it is no very new idea that the eternal Son may, for all we know, have been incarnate in other worlds than earth and so saved other races than ours.

And this ties in with Fr. Axor's quest as he explained to Diana Crowfeather.  I mean his search for evidence that Christ became incarnate to other races than mankind. It's interesting to note how Lewis' comment about Christ becoming incarnate on other worlds is "no very new idea."  The essay I've been quoting from was first published in 1958--which means SOME speculative theologians have wondered about such ideas before then.  Again, I'll quote Fr. Axor (Chapter 1 of THE GAME OF EMPIRE).

"Now Our Lord was born once upon Terra, and charged those who came after with carrying the gospel over the planet.  But what of other planets? Were they to wait for human missionaries?  Or have some of them, at least, been granted the glory of their own Incarnation?  It is not a matter on which most churches have ventured to dogmatize.  Not only are the lives, the souls, so different from world to world, but here and there one nevertheless does find religions which look strangely familiar. Coincidence?  Parallel development?  Or a deeper mystery?"

I would argue that the command of Christ to preach the Gospel to ALL nations in Matthew 28.16-20  includes as a legitimate interpretation the inclusion of non human rational beings on other worlds who have fallen.  And I realize this means first getting a FTL method of reaching the stars.  Fr. Axor's comments above brought to mind these remarks of Lewis in his essay "Religion and Rocketry" (pages 87-88 of THE WORLD'S LAST NIGHT AND OTHER ESSAYS):

It might turn out that the redemption of other species differed from ours by working through ours.  There is a hint of something like this in St. Paul (Romans 8.19-23) when he says that the whole creation is longing and waiting to be delivered from some kind of slavery, and that the deliverance will occur only when we, we Christians, fully enter upon our sonship to God and exercise our "glorious liberty."

On the conscious level I believe that he was thinking only of our own Earth: of animal, and probably vegetable, life on Earth being "renewed" or glorified at the glorification of man in Christ.  But it is perhaps possible--it is not necessary--to give his words a cosmic meaning.  It may be that Redemption, starting with us, is to work from us and through us.

These words caused me to wonder if someday, assuming a FTL drive is invented (as I so strongly hope happens!), that the Catholic Church might preach the Gospel to aliens whose races have fallen.  Fr. Axor commented above that all known oxygen breathing species are "prone to sin, error, and death."  In other words, fallen.  I've also wondered if Poul Anderson read the essay by C.S. Lewis I've been quoting.  Much of what Anderson has Fr. Axor saying in Chapter 1 of THE GAME OF EMPIRE parallels Lewis' comments.

It is my thought that certain texts in the Bible could be interpreted as supporting the idea Christianity can be rightly preached or offered to fallen aliens.  One being Matthew 28.16-20.  But I wish to take a closer look here at Romans 8.19-23: "For the eager longing of creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God.  For creation was made subject to vanity--not by its own will but by reason of him who made it subject--in hope, because creation itself also will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.  For we know all creation groans and travails in pain until now.  And not only it, but we ourselves also who have the first fruits of the Spirit--we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption as sons, the redemption of our body."

It can easily be seen how Lewis could speculate that this text from Romans could be interpreted as meaning that a fallen creation (cosmos) awaits the revelation from Earth of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Redemption wrought there by Christ.  And that deliverance from this slavery to corruption awaits the offering to aliens of the Gospel of Christ.

It is necessary to immediately stress that this, like the Incarnation of Christ coming among men, does NOT mean any special merit on our part.  As Lewis immediately said after the text I quoted above: "This would no doubt give man a pivotal position.  But such a position need not imply any superiority in us or any favouritism in God."  No, it would mean an ADDITIONAL duty laid on the Church.  Lewis was also careful to speculate in his essay that the vast distances of the other stars and planets from Earth might be a means of quarantining mankind from un fallen non human races--so fallen mankind could not corrupt them.

As Brother Guy Consolmagno wrote in his booklet INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE? (Catholic Truth Society: 2005, pages 33 and 37), the authors of the Bible did not have trouble accepting the existence of non human rational beings.  After all, the angels are not human and they certainly are intelligent!  Dr. Consolmagno uses Psalm 89.6-7a as one example: "The heavens praise your marvels, LORD, your loyalty in the assembly of the holy ones.  Who in the skies ranks with the LORD?"  And Brother Guy quotes John 10.14-16: "I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.  And other sheep I have that are not of this fold.  Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."  Which makes it easy to think that the sheep not of this "fold" (Earth, mankind) could be intelligent beings on other worlds who have fallen.

I hope readers will be patient as I bring in yet another quote here!  This being from the "Quick Answers" section of the July/August 2000 issue of THIS ROCK (page 45), a Catholic apologetics magazine.  And NO, I was not the one who sent in this question!

[Q] Is the Catholic Church meant only for the human race?  What if we encounter other intelligent beings in the universe at some point--are we to spread the Catholic faith to them?

[A] It would probably require an ecumenical council to answer your questions.  While the whole area is awfully speculative, here are some considerations you might find useful.  First, there would not seem to be anything wrong with sharing the Christian faith with aliens--that is, telling them what God did on our planet (e.g., becoming incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth).  Conversely, there would seem to be nothing wrong with them sharing with us what God has done on their planet--though we would have to look to the (human) Catholic Church in determining the authenticity of their claims, since it is this Church which has our pastoral care.

Second, any species we encounter may not need the sacraments, since its members may never have fallen from grace.  Or God may have made provisions for their salvation in another way.  Or they may be psychologically configured the way angels are, such that if they fall they are incapable of repenting.  The big question is whether baptism--the gateway to the other sacraments and to membership in the Church--can be given to non-human rational beings.  We haven't had to face this question because on earth we are the only rational beings.  Before arriving at a decision on this question--and in emergency situations only--the Church might allow conditional baptism.  That is, if a dying alien professed belief in Christ and a desire to be baptized, one might use the formula, "If you are capable of receiving baptism, I baptize you in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

This is far too brief a treatment of the subtle and respectful way Poul Anderson treated religion in his Technic History stories.  Especially when I consider how, due to his skill as a writer, that Anderson was able to bring in such ideas without them overwhelming the rest of the stories he set them in.  For example, I have not discussed how Anderson speculated on what might happen as humans and non humans alike affected each other as their different religious ideas and beliefs made contact in stories such as "The Three Cornered Wheel," "The Problem of Pain," or "The Season of Forgiveness."  This essay should be understood as showing how, centuries later under the Terran Empire, speculations of the kind discussed above might reasonably spring from the initial contacts described in the stories I listed.  First, that Christianity might be offered to non humans; second, that both humans and non humans might then wonder whether Christ became incarnate on other worlds besides Terra.

Sean M. Brooks


The word "language" can be used either literally or metaphorically. Thus, "body language" and animal signals are not literally "languages." Metaphor becomes problematic if misunderstood literally.

These observations are occasioned by reading Poul Anderson's The Night Face. Elfavy of the planet Gwydion lists "languages," which, she says, each describe a single facet of reality:

Gwydiona myth;

I suggest that a language can not only express feelings but also convey information. Thus, music and choreography are media but not languages. Poetry, prose and drama are different media which can use a common language. Mathematics is closer to being a "language." The Admissions Tutor at an Institute of Science and Technology said that he wanted to know, of any prospective student, "Does he obey the laws that we obey? The laws of physics. Does he speak the language that we speak? The language of mathematics." (Here again, a word is used in an extended sense. We can break the laws of England but not the laws of physics.)

Elfavy mentions not myth in general but specifically Gwydiona myth as a "language." The latter was developed not by primitives confusing it with science but deliberately and systematically by trained semanticians to describe a facet of reality for which all the other "languages" were inadequate.

I buy myths like death and resurrection as describing reality but do not call them a language.

Many Novels

A Heinlein-model future history is a series of short stories and novels set in successive periods of a fictitious timeline. Heinlein's seminal Future History includes just two novels, as does Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, modeled directly on Heinlein's.

However, Anderson's longer, not pre-planned but organically grown, History of Technic Civilization includes twelve novels - or indeed fourteen if the longest of the shorter Flandry stories are considered long enough to qualify as novels.

Nicholas van Rijn appears in three novels and David Falkayn in two of those three whereas Dominic Flandry appears in six (or eight). But that still leaves three others.

The Day Of Their Return is a sequel to the third Flandry novel, refers to Flandry and introduces two characters whom he meets later. However, the remaining two novels are set in periods when the recurring characters are not alive. The People Of The Wind features a descendant of both van Rijn and Falkayn but precedes Flandry whereas The Night Face succeeds Flandry by several centuries.

There are also eleven shorter works that share no characters with any other installment of the History. Thus, any impression that the Technic History is merely the van Rijn/Falkayn and Flandry series strung together is mistaken. This future history has considerably more content and substance than might be thought from a cursory glance.

Clues To The Dark Side

In Poul Anderson's The Night Face, the Gwydiona religion, philosophy or way of life posits that everything, including death, ruin and sorrow, is a facet of the eternal and infinite Oneness. However, Gwydiona arts, literature and daily lives are mostly sunny and cheerful. They are hiding something from themselves.

Although their society is without crime, a house has thick concrete walls, steel-shuttered windows and a wood-faced steel door with a massive, though unused, lock. The construction of houses like fortresses is said to symbolize the strength of the family.

Although it seems that every part of the environment is interpreted symbolically, the baleflower with five-pointed leaves is just a baleflower and it seems better not to ask about it.

Although the Gwydiona are one with nature, their population has moved entirely into the towns. Extra-planetary explorers find an abandoned and ruined village where houses were burned and there are skeletons of people who clearly died violently.Nobody knows why.

What does all this mean? We do not know yet, but Anderson builds a sense of menace in an apparently peaceful civilization.

Gwydiona Symbolism

All ornamentation is symbolic, the opposite of Nuevamerican culture. The fylfot recurring in the design of a bronze chair is the Burning Wheel, the sun, Ynis, and all suns. The Wheel is Time, thermodynamic irreversibility. The interwoven vines in the same design are crisflowers, sacred to the Green Boy Aspect of God because they bloom during the first annual haygathering season. (The Gwydiona year lasts five standard years.) Fyflot and vines together mean Time the Destroyer and Regenerator.

Chair leather from the wild areas belongs to the autumnal Huntress Aspect. Linking the Huntress with the Green Boy recalls the Night Faces and also the Day Faces which are their other side. Because bronze is artificial, it conveys that mankind, by forming the framework, embodies the meaning and structure of the world. Because corroded bronze is green, it also signifies that every structure vanishes but into new life.

A dancer wears a bird costume at the Bird Maiden's time of year. On the Day of the River Child, the Bird Maiden met the child who was lost, carried him home and gave him her crown. This is a seasonal myth for the end of rains and floods, followed by sunlight and blossoms. The complicated tale includes a poem about the episode of the Riddling Tree.

There is a lot more, details impossible to remember on a single reading. Poul Anderson applies knowledge of Terrestrial myths and symbols and also considerable imagination to weave them into new patterns.

New Characters

Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization features not one but three major continuing characters and also includes a substantial number of works without any continuing character. (A future history needs a lot of short stories with varied settings to give it body.)

I regard The Night Face/Let The Spacemen Beware as a novel because it is well over 100 pages in length. Set centuries after the lifetime of Dominic Flandry, it necessarily introduces a new cast of characters, who turn out to be specific to just this single work. Since the point of the narrative is to demonstrate how far a small population of extra-solar colonists has diverged from standard humanity, Anderson could simply have described a homogeneous spaceship crew arriving on the planet Gwydion, but he doesn't.

The chief of the expedition is Miguel Tolteca of the Argo Astrophysical Company and the United Republics of Nuevamerica. Fifty years previously, the Republics had won their independence from the aristocratic regime on Lochlann. Raven, a Lochlanna aristocrat, leads the spaceship's military force. There are cultural misunderstandings and conflicts between Tolteca and Raven.

Since both of these men are viewpoint characters in different passages after their arrival on Gwydion, the reader must remain alert. Not only have the Gwydiona diverged from humanity but also we are not being given a single outsider's view of them either.

There are Star Trek episodes with similar themes but The Night Face is a novel. The Gwydiona are not aliens differing from humanity in just one respect but descendants of human beings who, over many generations, have adapted to an alien environment.

Monday, 28 April 2014


In Poul Anderson's World Without Stars, "God" is our galaxy seen from a planet of a star in intergalactic space. In Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, Merseians refer to "the God" and Ythrians refer to "God the Hunter" but neither of these phrases is interchangeable with any Abrahamic or Indian use of the word "God."

The human-descended Gwydiona say things like:

"'I understand that God wears a different face in most of the known cosmos.'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York,2012), p. 554.

"'...we have lived here a long time. We know the Aspects of God on Gwydion better than you.'" (p. 560)

"'O guest of the house, who may be God, most welcome and beloved, enter.'" (p. 562)

"'...that Aspect of God called the Green Boy...the autumnal Huntress Aspect...the Night Faces...the Day Faces...'" (p. 563)

Gradually we realize that "God" also means an annual collective experience not remembered afterwards... This is mysterious, then shocking when the extra-planetary visitors learn the truth.

Meanwhile, here is a theological conundrum closer to home. In "The Problem of Pain," a Christian character, Peter Berg, says:

"'Way back before space travel, the Church decided Jesus had come only to Earth, to man. If other intelligent races need salvation - and obviously a lot of them do! - God will have made His suitable arrangements for them.'"
- Poul Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), pp. 28-29.

But "the Church" can speak with a different voice in different periods. Seven centuries later, a Wodenite has converted to Jerusalem Catholicism and has been ordained in the Galilean Order.

Historical Perspectives

In Baen Books' The Technic Civilization Saga Vols I-III by Poul Anderson:

the three introductions referring to Noah Arkwright cover the period of the Polesotechnic League;
the two introductions written in the much later period of the Galactic Archaeological Society cover the Time of Troubles and the early Terran Empire;
the twelve extracts from The Earth Book Of Stormgate cover the Grand Survey, the Polesotechnic League, the colonization of Avalon and the Terran Imperial War on Avalon.

Subsequent periods - later Empire, Long Night, Allied Planets and Commonalty - are covered in Vols IV-VII but lack comparable introductions.

Unlike Arkwright and Hloch of Stormgate Choth, the Archaeological Society looks back on its subject period from a much later date. The Society refers to the Terran Empire as the First Empire, implying that there have been at least two although there is no indication of a second in the Chronology of Technic Civilization that is known to us.

A Second Empire could have coexisted with the Commonalty, but in a different spiral arm. If the name of the Society implies a civilization operating on the scale of the entire galaxy, then it is considerably later even than the Commonalty.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Anarchic State?

"If you had a society with a simple economic structure (automation helped marvelously in that respect, provided that the material desires of the people remained modest) and if you had a homogeneous population of high average intelligence and low average nastiness, well, then perhaps the ideal anarchic state was possible."
-Poul Anderson, "The Night Face" IN Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), pp. 541-660 AT p. 560.

Terminological comment: "...anarchic state..." is contradictory and should have read "...anarchic society..."

General comment: I agree and would add that a heterogeneous population of high intelligence could be anarchic, "not ruled."

Heym, a character in Anderson's short story "Genius" (Astounding, 1948) explains how social pressure and mental conditioning usually determine individual behavior. Thus, he argues, a peaceful scientist rarely refuses to engage in war research and:

"'A "born" pacifist, growing up in a warlike culture, will generally accept war as part of the natural order of things.'"
-Poul Anderson, "Genius" IN Anderson, The Complete Short Works Of Poul Anderson, Volume 1, Call Me Joe (Framingham MA, 2009), pp. 196-222 AT p. 218.

Thus also, someone "born nasty" but growing up in an anarchic society should accept cooperation as part of the natural order of things. However, the apparently ideal society in "The Night Face" is on the planet Gwydion where another factor is operating.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Fall Of Empire

Poul and Karen Anderson describe the withdrawal of the Roman Empire from Northern Europe in the King of Ys Tetralogy;
Poul Anderson describes post-Roman Britain in "Time Patrol";
he also describes the post-Imperial galaxy in the Long Night and Allied Planets periods of his History of Technic Civilization:

"Now the Empire has fallen, the Long Night descended upon that tiny fraction of the galaxy which man once explored and colonized. Like Romano-Britons after the last legion had withdrawn, people out in the former marches of civilization do not even know what is happening at its former heart. They have the physical capability of going there and finding out, but are too busy surviving. They are also, all unawares, generating whole new societies of their own.
"I do not, myself, believe that history will necessarily repeat itself to that extent. Nor do I deny that it might. Nobody knows."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), pp. 543-544.

Nobody knows what will happen by 3900, but maybe by then society will better understand its own historical processes?

We see something of the new societies being generated in the later story, "Starfog."

One planetary population has been isolated from the rest of humanity not only during the Long Night but also, before that, during the entire period of the Terran Empire. That is long enough for humanity to have evolved into something else and that is what explorers restoring interstellar civilization find on the planet Gwydion.

The Falkayns

David Falkayn, younger son of a baronial house on Hermes, became a protege of Nicholas van Rijn.

Van Rijn's granddaughter, Coya Conyon, admired Falkayn because of his involvement in the Satan episode.

David and Coya married between "Lodestar" and Mirkheim.

Their son, Nicholas Falkayn, was born on Earth near the end of Mirkheim.

Nicholas Falkayn advised his son, Nat, on Avalon in "Wingless."

Their descendant, Tabitha Falkayn, lived on Avalon three centuries later in The People Of The Wind.

Unfortunately, that is all that we learn about the Falkayn lineage. However, the Avalonian colony founded by David plays a role centuries later during Dominic Flandry's lifetime.   

Analyzing The Earth Book

Of the twelve works in The Earth Book Of Stormgate, the first two are about early human-Ythrian contact and the last two are about the human-Ythrian joint colony on Avalon. Thus, only eight of the stories are about the Polesotechnic League. Further, two of these feature neither Nicholas van Rijn nor any member of his trader team.

The remaining six works begin with the first appearances of Adzel and of van Rijn and end with "Lodestar" - which is the last trader team story. The team does re-appear in the following volume, Mirkheim, but that is a sequel, set several years later with much water under the bridge. The characters have parted. Their lives have moved on. The old team is re-assembled, but with some difficulty, for one last time and not for its original purpose. "Lodestar" was written as, and is, the conclusion of the original series.

We are left with, in this volume, only three intermediate works about the Solar Spice & Liquors Company, two featuring van Rijn and one featuring the trader team. However, this is also the period of seven other works to be read, originally, in three separate volumes.

Spans, Illuminates And Completes...II

The previous post showed that The Earth Book Of Stormgate not only spanned and completed the Polesotechnic League period of Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization but also applied the perspective of the post-League novel, The People Of The Wind. Thus, there were:

two League collections, starring van Rijn and Falkayn respectively;
two League novels, each starring both;
one post-League novel, featuring a direct descendant of both;
the concluding League collection, including one more novel and presented from a post-League perspective.

However, the narrative was not yet complete:

one more pre-League story was written later;
two post-League stories preceded The People Of The Wind;
the History of Technic Civilization continued for many volumes after The People Of The Wind.

Fortunately, not only the six volumes and three separate stories already mentioned but also all subsequent volumes have been fully incorporated into Baen Books' The Technic Civilization Saga, seven omnibus volumes collecting the entire History in chronological order for the first time.

The eleven works collected in Vol I, The Van Rijn Method, comprise:

the one newer story;
seven of the twelve works that had been collected in The Earth Book;
two of the three works that had been collected as The Trouble Twisters;
one of the three works that had been collected as Trader To The Stars.

Further, the previously collected stories retain their fictitious introductions from the earlier collections:

seven by Hloch of the Stormgate Choth;
one by Vance Hall commenting on Noah Arkwright;
one by Noah Arkwright;
one by Le Matelot, beginning "'The world's great age begins anew...'"

The perspective expands. The Saga is like a bigger and better Earth Book.

The seven works collected in Vol II, David Falkayn: Star Trader, comprise:

the two remaining works that had been collected in Trader To The Stars;
the one remaining work that had been collected in The Trouble Twisters;
three more from The Earth Book;
the first of the two League novels, Satan's World.

The faithfully reproduced introductions are:

a passage from the first Trader story in Vol I;
Urwain the Wide-Faring's memories of Noah Arkwright;
a passage from Percy Shelley's "Hellas";
three more from Hloch.

(Who is this guy, Noah Arkwright? Don't ask.)

The six works collected in Vol III, Rise Of The Terran Empire, are:

the second League novel, Mirkheim;
the two remaining stories from The Earth Book;
the two post-League stories mentioned earlier;
The People Of The Wind.

The introductions are:

two more - plus one conclusion - by Hloch;
one from the much later perspective of Donvar Ayeghen, President of the Galactic Archaeological Society;
one by Ayeghen's contemporary, Michael Karageorge (this time scripted not by Poul Anderson but by Saga compiler, Hank Davis).

Thus, the expanded Earth Book extends from the second story in Vol I to the third story in Vol III and the History continues for another four and a half volumes
after that.

There is in addition a perspective from right outside the fictitious history because introductions by the author, where they exist, are also included. In his introduction to "The Night Face," in Vol VII, Flandry's Legacy, Anderson informs the reader that Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn, Christopher Holm, Dominic Flandry and other characters lived in the past of this story.

The inclusion of Holm may be a surprise. However, Christopher's/Arinnian's role is pivotal because he is a viewpoint character in The People Of The Wind and, fictitiously, one of the authors of The Earth Book Of Stormgate.

Spans, Illuminates And Completes...

According to the cover of Poul Anderson's The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979), this volume "Spans, illuminates and completes the magnificent future history of the Polesotechnic League."

The Polesotechnic League is one period of Anderson's future history of Technic Civilization. However, since a "future history" must cover more than one generation, the League period does achieve future history status in its own right.

According to Sandra Miesel's Chronology of Technic Civilization, the League period comprises nineteen works. (Since the League is not mentioned until the second of these works, we might limit the period to eighteen works, but let's stay with Miesel's Chronology.) Eight works were published in four previous volumes. The remaining eleven are collected in The Earth Book.

The eleven League period works in The Earth Book begin with the first League story and end with the last. Further, the volume begins with one pre-League story.

The Earth Book also contains new introductions to the stories which illuminate their background. These introductions are written from the perspective of the post-League, early Terran Empire novel, The People Of The Wind, and therefore look back on the League period as a whole.

Thus, the phrase, "Spans, illuminates and completes...," accurately describes this collection.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Bite-Size Books And Immersion In The Future

Volume XIII
"Outpost of Empire"
The Day Of Their Return -

- introducing:

Chubderban Desai;
the Ancients.

Neo-Freehold techniques are applied nearly a millennium later in "The Sharing of Flesh." Desai lare explains imperial decline to Flandry. All fans of the Technic History know the importance of Aycharaych to Flandry and of the Ancients to a certain Jerusalem Catholic Wodenite.

The History is not only intricately constructed but also vividly narrated, suggesting a real future:

-Philip Jose Farmer, quoted on the front cover of Poul Anderson, The Earth Book Of Stormgate (New York, 1979).

"Poul Anderson immerses you in the future...Anderson puts you into a whole new world."
- Larry Niven, quoted on the back cover of Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011).

This is evident when Coya Conlon reflects on the differences between her grandfather, Nicholas van Rijn's, generation and her own:

"...I'm a typical modern human...My grandfather's generation seldom bothered to get married. My father's did. And mine, why, we're reviving patrilineal surnames."
- Poul Anderson, David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), pp. 643-644.

"The Pax Mercatoria was drawing to an end and, while she had never wholly approved of it, she sometimes dreaded the future." (op. cit., p. 652)

Van Rijn says, "' youngsters like you, Coya, get more prudish, the companies and governments get more brutish...,'" to which she replies, "The second is part of the reason for the first.'" (op. cit., p. 659)

Thus, Anderson presents social changes and generational differences. For all her solidity and authenticity, Coya appears in only two works, "Lodestar," where van Rijn suddenly has a twenty five year old granddaughter, and Mirkheim, where she has been married to David Falkayn for ten years.

Dr Pournelle said somewhere, "Everyone knows that Poul Anderson is one of the best. They're wrong. He's better." This may strike us clever and amusing: better than the best? But it is literally true. We know that Anderson is among the best writers of fantasy and science fiction and, when we carefully reread his works, we realize that they are better than we thought. His works contain a wealth of unobtrusive background details that need not have been present for effective action-adventure fiction but that add depth and make the rereading worthwhile.

Bite-Size Books? IV

Volume X
Ensign Flandry -

- introducing:

Dominic Flandry;
the Abrams family;
Naval Intelligence;
John Ridenour;
the Merseian Roidhunate;
Tachwyr the Dark.

Volume XI

A Circus Of Hells -

- introducing:

references to Aycharaych and Chereion;
a geas on Flandry.

Volume XII
The Rebel Worlds -

- introducing:

the Virgilian system;
the planet Dido;
Aenean tinerans;

the ancestors of the Kirkasanters.

(The point of these lists is the number of elements introduced in each installment that become significant in later installments: the pyramidal structure of a Heinlein-model future history. There are elements that I would not have thought of until I compiled the lists.)

Bite-Size Books? III

Volume VII
Mirkheim -

- introducing:

the Kittredge family on Vixen.

Volume VIII
"Rescue on Avalon"
"The Star Plunderer"
"Sargasso of Lost Starships" -

- introducing:

the human-Ythrian colony on Avalon;
the Holm family on Avalon;
Ythrian choths and Wyvans;
Stormgate Choth;
the Time of Troubles;
the Imperial Founder;
the Terran Empire;
the planet Ansa;

Volume IX
The People Of The Wind -


Christopher Holm, who writes parts of The Earth Book Of Stormgate.

Bite-Size Books? II

Volume IV
"Hiding Place"
"The Trouble Twisters"
"Day of Burning"

- introducing:

the planet Esperance;
Chee Lan;
the trader team (Falkayn, Adzel and Chee Lan working for van Rijn);

Volume V
Satan's World

Volume VI
"The Master Key"
"A Little Knowledge"

- introducing:

Coya Conlon;
reference to the planets Altai, Nuevo Mexico and Nyanza.

(I have explained in previous posts why I would move "Esau" closer to the decline of the League.)

Bite-Size Books?

Although Baen Books has rightly collected Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization into seven omnibus volumes of equal length, an opposite way to present the series would be in bite-size volumes each to contain only a single novel or at most four short stories. The new reader would thus be introduced to apparently disconnected stories each presenting a few of the essential building blocks for what turns out to be, after several volumes, a substantial fictitious history.

Volume I
"The Saturn Game"
"Wings of Victory"
"The Problem of Pain"
"How To Be Ethnic In One Easy Lesson"

- introducing:

the Jerusalem Catholic Church;
the planet later called Avalon;
the Polesotechnic League;
references to the planets Cynthia, Gorzun, Woden and Aeneas.

Volume II
"Margin of Profit"
"The Three-Cornered Wheel"
"A Sun Invisible"
"The Season of Forgiveness"

- introducing:

Nicholas van Rijn;
David Falkayn;
Falkayn working for van Rijn's Solar Spice & Liquors Company;
the planet Ivanhoe.

Volume III
The Man Who Counts

- introducing:

the planet Diomedes;
van Rijn's disreputable connection with Falkayn's home planet, Hermes.

There are probably more salient details here that I have missed.

Time Lag

Poul Anderson, "Time Lag" IN The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham, MA, 2009), pp. 241-265.

Traditionally, Rome was founded in 753 BC. Some Roman historians counted years AUC, Ab Urbe Condita, "From the Founding of the City." Poul Anderson's "Time Lag" is divided into five sections headed:

522 Anno Coloniae Conditae 
538 A.C.C.
553 A.C.C.
569 A.C.C.
584 A.C.C.

Thus, the narrative covers sixty two years of the human colony on the extra-solar planet Vaynamo which has thirty hour days and natural equivalents of elves.

The Alfavala:

live in nests;
are "...wild little folk...," flitting and twittering, with glowing eyes (p. 241);
have "...long ears, flat nostrils, feathery hair..." (p. 242);
either keep to the forests or serve men like dogs;
can speak a few words and use simple tools;
are more animal than rational;
are safe to be with because sensitive to danger;
but not essential to the story -

- and, although I have read "Time Lag" at least twice, I had completely forgotten these Vaynamoan natives until I reread the opening passage in The Collected Short Works.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


"Prophecy" by Poul Anderson was published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1949 - when I was four months old. I cannot find the Astounding cover for that month but here is the cover of the issue that contained the same author's "The Helping Hand" (May 1950).

Both stories:

are republished in The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham MA, 2009);

ask whether a more advanced civilization can meaningfully help a less advanced one;

answer "no" - although in different ways.

One answer is to show help given with disastrous results. The other is to show help refused because the more advanced civilization is wise enough to know the consequences.

I found "Prophecy" uncharacteristically disappointing. In this story, there is no imaginative speculation about extra-solar life forms. Human forms are assumed just to serve the single point of the story. (We are in Jonathan Swift territory: Gulliver encounters Lilliputians, Brobdingnagians, Laputans etc so that Swift can satirize humanity.) "Prophecy" comprises a single conversation summarizing the recognizable Andersonian theme of historical cycles but ending with the bald statement that the alien psychotechnicians cannot help and must leave humanity to learn the hard way even though that way includes atomic wars: too much discussion and too little dramatization of the issues.

"Genius," nicely contrasted with "Backwardness" in the same collection, includes even more socio-historical exposition by its protagonists but  incorporates this material more effectively into the narrative which in this case gives us some impression of what a more intelligent civilization might conceivably look like.


The immediately preceding post was composed in haste just before rushing out to a meeting. I tried yet again to convey the range of Poul Anderson's scientifically informed imagination, this time by summarizing his account of a fictitious life form flourishing on asteroids, meteors and, when they arrive, spaceships.

In recent blog posts:

Sean M Brooks has listed many uncollected fictional and nonfictional works by Poul Anderson and has discussed the complex chronology of Anderson's History of Technic Civilization;

I have discussed theology, sociology, artificial intelligence and hypothetical space-dwelling organisms.

We owe this diversity of subject-matters to Anderson. Serious scientific and philosophical discussions are generated by ideas that he presents as entertaining fiction. Some of his readers appreciate both the fiction and the discussion.

The asteroidal "barnacles" are a far cry from theological or historical debates but are akin to Anderson's speculations about material processes in the planetary system of a wandering red dwarf star and in another system where a super-Jovian planet is falling into its sun. (These were two of his Man-Kzin Wars stories that I discussed recently.)

I have one more story to read and discuss in The Collected Short Works, Volume 1. Then I had better set about acquiring the remaining Volumes.

Life In The Asteroid Belt

Poul Anderson, "Barnacle Bull" IN The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham MA, 2009), pp. 399-411:

a mutant life-form had existed on the asteroidal planet;
it adapted to space during the slow break-up of the larger fragments;
it uses an unidentified liquid other than water which would boil or freeze in space;
its chemistry is carbon and silicon;
adults eject freely drifting spores;
a few flourish on stony bodies;
powered by sunlight, the "barnacles" extract silicon, carbon and metals and excrete the metals by laying a plating under their shells;
the shell resists radiation and holds a charge that attracts dust;
water and free oxygen poison the barnacles and atmospheric friction destroys them;
barnacles destroy space probes' radio transmitters by eating their silicon components;
settling and multiplying on a spaceship's hull, the barnacles lay down heavy metal plating which interferes with the magnetic fields generated to divert ions from the ship, causes cosmic rays penetrating the plating to produce secondary radiation and increases the ship's mass but also shields the ship against meteor impacts;
magnetic screens must be differently heterodyned and radio transmitters must be protected.

After Genius

I had definitely not read Poul Anderson's "Genius" before and it is an interesting story. After it in the NESFA Press The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham MA, 2009), there are:

"The Live Coward"
"Time Lag"
"The Man Who Came Early"
"Turning Point"
"The Alien Enemy"
"Enough Rope"
"The Sharing of Flesh"
"Flight to Forever"
"Barnacle Bull"
"Time Heals"
"The Martian Crown Jewels"
"Kings Who Die"

I had already read all but three of these works and have quickly read the rather lackluster "The Martian Crown Jewels" since acquiring the book so there is not much left before Vol 2, which I have yet to order. However, the remaining stories will be read and commented on.

Despite their exotic interstellar settings, "The Helping Hand" and "Genius" are serious discussions of how societies develop. I thought that I had finished comparing Isaac Asimov unfavorably with Poul Anderson but here again Anderson presents a more interesting account of a ruling group applying to society a mathematically formulated, predictive science of society. Station Seventeen, secretly directing the Empire, is like a Second Foundation but based on intelligence, not on hypnosis.

The geniuses of Station Seventeen, which is an entire planet, are intelligent, perceptive and cooperative enough to share socially necessary menial tasks equally among their entire population rather than relegating a social majority to lifetimes of drudgery. Mass-production will have to wait until mechanical knowledge is sufficient to develop entirely automatic factories because "'...few if any geniuses could stand to work on an assembly line all day.'" (p. 212) However, they "'...are in no hurry to advance their standard of living.'" (ibid.)

Production has, perhaps, four stages:

hunting and gathering;
horticulture and agriculture;
manufacturing, eventually industrialized;

In our history, the second and third stages necessitated social stratification and competition whereas the eventual production of abundance should make stratification and competition redundant. The geniuses manage every stage of production without either stratification or competition.

A society of geniuses has super geniuses who are as far beyond the ordinary mind as logic is beyond instinct. The surprise ending is a real surprise but also logical. The geniuses have already outwitted the Imperial social experimenters.

Occasional raiders from the Magellanic Clouds are also a neat idea.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Uncollected Works of Poul Anderson, by Sean M. Brooks

It would be easy for a zealous fan of the works of Poul Anderson, such as myself, to boast of how complete a collection I have.  I could brag of how many hard cover first editions I have, including rarities.  BUT, when I compiled this list of works by Anderson which I DON'T have or have not read, then I see how little right I have for boasting.  Because, as anyone can see from reviewing this list, FAR too many of Poul Anderson's  essays and stories has not yet been republished or collected.  This list strengthens my conviction that we need a COMPLETE COLLECTED WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON if interested readers are going to be able to access even the most obscure of his essays and stories.

For this list I leaned heavily on the bibliography of the works of Poul Anderson compiled by Jean-Daniel Breque and included by him as an appendix to his French translation of a collection of Anderson's Time Patrol stories.  I own M. Breque many thanks for giving me a copy of his translation of those stories.  I have also found the listing of Anderson's works in the special Poul Anderson issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION for April 1971 to be very helpful.  I have not included (aside from a very few exceptions) in this compilation stories which has been collected in anthologies which I either have or can be easily found elsewhere.

One point which concerns me is how many of the stories I listed below were first published in now obscure and little known magazines which has long since ceased being printed.  Because I think it is possible all of the issues of some of these forgotten magazines might disappear--meaning that the Anderson stories they printed will be at risk of being permanently lost.

I drew upon the listing of Anderson's articles and essays found in the April 1971 issue of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION for Section I of the list below.  However, that list is only good up till that year. Poul Anderson wrote other non fiction essays after that time as well, some of which, such as "Thud and Blunder," are important and can be found in collections like FANTASY.  In addition, it's possible Anderson wrote essays for magazines or newspapers later than the items listed in the April 1971 issue of F&SF which I have no knowledge of.

Moreover, the publication credits for the 1963 edition of Anderson's IS THERE LIFE ON OTHER WORLDS? states that part of Chapter 7 of that book was originally "Science and Superman, an Inquiry," which can be found listed in Section I below.  And part of Chapter 8 of the same book was originally "How Social is Science?," also listed below in Section I.  My point being that Poul Anderson sometimes revised or incorporated stories and essays for inclusion in other works.

While working on this article I was amazed yet again at how creative and prolific an author Poul Anderson was.  All by themselves, the 90 plus essays and stories I listed here would be considered a very respectable lifetime achievement for many writers.  Never mind the far larger number of better known stories and novels written by Anderson!  Of course, the reason for that is simple: Anderson had to sell as many stories, essays, and novels as possible if he was to make a living as a free lance writer.

It was maddening and frustrating to list so many unknown essays and stories written by Poul Anderson. For instance, what did Anderson write about in the article "Those Hairy Ancestors?  The Neanderthals or some other branch of the hominid family? And the very title of "Ashtaru the Terrible" is tantalizing!  And was "The Corpse in a Suit of Armor" another Trygve Yamamura mystery story?

To sum up, with a few exceptions (e.g., some of Anderson's stories for THE FLEET books) the tales I listed below are works I have not read.  It is humbling to see, despite my ardor in collecting the works of Poul Anderson, how MANY of these articles and stories I have not yet managed to find.  In addition, one reason I have compiled this list is to highlight for future editors striving to collect the works of Poul Anderson which of his lesser known articles and stories they should take pains in tracking down.  Other readers, of course, may well compile somewhat different lists.

I. Articles, Essays, Reviews
"The Einstein Rocket," DSF, Dec. 1952
"Those Hairy Ancestors," ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION (hereafter cited as ASF), Nov. 1954
"Plausibility in SF," WRITERS' YEARBOOK, 1956
"Nice Girls on Mars," THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION (hereafter cited as F&SF), May 1956
"The Troublesome Dimensions," ASF, Nov 1956
"How Social Is Science?," SATURDAY REVIEW, 27 April 1957
"Science and Superman, an Inquiry," AMAZING, Nov. 1959
"The Helpful Friend of Mohammed Abdullah" [The Library Murder], in THE QUALITY OF MURDER, ed. Anthony Boucher, Dutton 1962
"Poetry, Science, and Fiction," AMAZING, Feb. 1965
"Life in Space," in ASTRONAUTICS FOR SCIENCE TEACHERS, ed. John Meiner, Wiley, 1965
Untitled Reply to Soviet Critics, F&SF, Oct. 1965
"In One More Generation," NATIONAL REVIEW, 30 Jan. 1968
Untitled book reviews, F&SF, April 1968
"Limiting Factor," IF, May 1968
Untitled memorial to Anthony Boucher, F&SF, August 1968
"Search for the Hunter," in ADVENTURES IN DISCOVERY, ed. Tom Purdom, Doubleday, 1969
"The Past That Never Was," NATIONAL REVIEW, 24 Feb. 1970
Introduction to FIRST STEP OUTWARD, ed. Robert Hoskins, Dell 2549, 1969
"Commentary" in MEN ON THE MOON, ed. Donald Wollheim, Ace 52470, 1969
"Editorial," ASF, Jan, 1972
"Science and Creation," ASF, Sept, 1973

II. Science Fiction and Fantasy

"A Matter of Relativity," ASF, September 1944
"Genius," ASF, December 1948
"Prophecy," ASF, May 1949
"Entity," in collaboration with John Gregen, ASF, June 1949
"The Perfect Weapon," ASF, February 1950
"Trespass," in collaboration with Gordon R. Dickson, FANTASTIC SERIES QUARTERLY, 1950
"Witch of the Demon Seas," PLANET STORIES (hereafter cited as PS), January 1951
"The Acolytes," WORLDS BEYOND, February 1951
"World of the Mad," IMAGINATION, February 1951
"Inside Earth," GALAXY, April 1951
"The Missionaries," OTHER WORLDS, June/July 1951
"The Virgin of Valkarion," PS, July 1951
"Swordsman of Lost Terra," PS, November 1951
"War-Maid of Mars," PS, May 1952
"Garden in the Void," GALAXY, May 1952
"Sentiment, Inc.", SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, February 1953
"The Green Thumb," SCIENCE FICTION QUARTERLY, February 1953
"Security," SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, February 1953
"Ashtaru the Terrible," FANTASY MAGAZINE, March 1953
"Courier of Chaos," FUTURE SCIENCE FICTION, March 1953
"Three Wishes," FANTASTIC, March/April 1953
"Rachaela," FANTASY FICTION, June 1953
"The Temple of Earth," ROCKET STORIES, July 1953
"Butch," in TIME TO COME, anthology ed. by August Derleth, 1954
"Contact Point," collaboration with Theodore Cogswell, IF, August 1954
"Elliptic Orbit," IF, December 1954
"Snowball," IF, May 1955
"Catalysis," IF, February 1956
"Security Risk," ASF, January 1957
"Survival Technique," collaboration with Kenneth Gray, F&SF, March 1957
"Life Cycle," F&SF, July 1957
"Mister Tiglath, TALES OF THE FRIGHTENED, August 1957
"The Peacemongers," F&SF, December 1957
"The Apprentice Wobbler," STAR SCIENCE FICTION, January 1958
"The Barrier Moment," ASF, renamed ANALOG, March 1960
"The Covenant,"  FANTASTIC, July 1960
"Goodbye, Atlantis," FANTASTIC, August 1961
"The Enemy," TORONTO STAR WEEKLY, October 28, 1961
"Third Stage," AMAZING, February 1962
"In the Island of Uffa," WEST BY ONE AND BY ONE, anthology pub. 1965
"High Treason," IMPULSE, March 1965
"A Gift From Centauri," BOY'S LIFE, December 1967
"The Inevitable Weapon," ANALOG, March 1968
"The Galloping Hessian," BOY'S LIFE, October 1969
"I Tell You, It's True," NOVA 2, ed. Harry Harrison (1972), and in CONFLICT (1983)
"Strength," collaboration with Mildred D. Downey, in THE MAGIC MAY RETURN (ed. Larry Niven,1982)
"Letter from Tomorrow," ANALOG, August 1987
"The Deserter," NEW DESTINIES 4, ed. Jim Baen (1988)
"The Only Bed to Lie In," THE FLEET, ed. David Drake & Bill Fawcett (1988)
"The Death Wish, THE MICROVERSE, anthology ed. Byron Preiss (1989)
"Origin," NEW DESTINIES 4, anthology ed. Jim Baen (1989)
"Statesmen," NEW DESTINIES 8, anthology ed. Jim Baen (1989)
"Dereliction," THE FLEET 4: SWORN ALLIES, ed. David Drake & Bill Fawcett (1990)
"Kinetic Kill," THE FLEET: CRISIS, ed. David Drake & Bill Fawcett (1991)
"Unnatural Enemy," THE ULTIMATE DINOSAUR, anthology ed. Byron Preiss & Robert Silverberg (1992)
"Scarecrow," NEW LEGENDS, anthology ed. Greg Bear & Martin H. Greenberg (1995)
"Renascence," ANALOG, March 1995
"Inside Passage," THE WILLIAMSON EFFECT, anthology ed. Roger Zelazny (1996)
"Tyranny," FREE SPACE, anthology ed. Brad Linaweaver & Edward E. Kramer (1997)
"Consequences," NATURE, vol. 405, no. 6784, May 18, 2000
"The Bog Sword," THE FIRST HEROES, anthology ed. Harry Harrison & Noreen Doyle (2004)

III. Mysteries and Adventures

"The Corpse in a Suit of Armor," THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, November 1956
"The Trader and the Viking," JACK LONDON'S ADVENTURE MAGAZINE, October 1958
"Pythagorean Romaji," THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, December 1959
"Stab in the Back," THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, March 1960
"The Gentle Way," THE SAINT DETECTIVE MAGAZINE, August 1960


Poul Anderson's "Genius" (Astounding, 1948) is very early. I have just spotted, while googling, a comment that it was Anderson's third published story. Have I read it before? I find that I have saved a copy of the Astounding cover although I do not remember doing so.

Having just read the first three pages, until the first break in the narrative, I have found several familiar story elements:

faster than light quasivelocity;
an interstellar Empire, with slaves;
peripheral barbarians;
many implausibly humanoid, even "human," aliens;
an interstellar civilization secretly observing Earth;
a hint that Terrestrials are somehow special.

There is also what may be a covert reference to another writer about a Galactic Empire:

"...the foundation and the reason for the Empire..."
- Poul Anderson, The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham, MA, 2009), p. 197.

"Genius" should not be confused with "Details," which bears some of the listed common features. I am still not entirely sure whether I have read "Genius" before.

Addendum: It seems I have misunderstood some points but only because they are introduced allusively and gradually. In this case, the Empire is Solarian and the covertly observed planet is not Earth but somewhere else. I will have to read further (obviously) to unravel the plot.

NESFA Collections, Vol 1, continued

Yes, Poul Anderson's "The Immortal Game" presents not only a chess game but a classic one. It also addresses the issue of artificial intelligence. A human observer of the game wonders whether the computers controlling the chess pieces are conscious and have minds. He points out that the "' arrangement is closely analogous to a human nervous system.'"
- Poul Anderson, The Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson (Framingham, MA, 2009), p. 186.

If the feedback duplicates the processes of a nervous system, then the computers are conscious whereas, if it merely simulates a nervous system, then the computers are not conscious. However, a computer is an artifact that merely manipulates symbols according to rules whereas an artificial intelligence would be an artifact that also understood the meanings of the symbols. An unconscious mechanism can be programmed always to write "4" after "2+2=." We can do this but can also understand that two things of the same kind and another two things of that kind always add up to four of those things and also that those arbitrary symbols - 1,2,3 etc - which we recognize as Arabic numerals have no inherent meaning and could have been assigned some entirely different meanings, e.g.:

1   to be;
+   or;
1= to be not;
2   ? 

The computers in the story are programmed with the rules of chess but this would give them no knowledge of battles or of a bishop's feelings for his queen. They become active and, we gather, conscious at the beginning of each game/battle with no memory of any previous battles so they have had no opportunity to develop personal relationships.

The next story is "Backwardness," with which I am familiar, and, after that, is "Genius," which I think is unfamiliar. This gets me to nearly half way down the page-long table of contents. I am measuring it with a ruler.

NESFA Collections, Vol 1, continued

I have read so many Poul Anderson short stories in diverse collections that I forget titles. Thus, more of the contents of NESFA Collected Short Works Of Poul Anderson Vol 1 are familiar than I had expected:

"Tomorrow's Children" and "Logic" are the first two parts of Twilight World;
"Journeys End," misprinted here as "Journey's End," is that story about telepaths;
"Call Me Joe," "Wildcat" and "Time Patrol" are, of course, familiar.

"The Helping Hand" is old (Astounding, 1950) but was new to me. Despite its space operatic setting, the story ends not with victory in a space battle but with the look of loss in an old man's eyes.

"The Immortal Game" (F&SF, '54), which I have only just begun to read, soon reveals itself to be an account of a chess game with conscious pieces and, unlike "The White King's War," which has robot chess pieces on a giant board, this story might present the moves in a game of chess?

I will continue to work my way through the collection. I would have preferred the short verses to be in one section at the end. It is difficult to see how many prose works we have to read. This poem is not bad:

Slowly the moon
Slides aloft.
Keen is its edge,
Cutting the dark.
Stars and frost,
As still as the dead,
Warn of another
Waning year.

"Sandra Miesel's Technic Civilization Chronology," by Sean M. Brooks

Prefatory Note.  Dr. Shackley kindly published on his blog (April 26, 2012) an earlier version of this essay written by me.  Since then, I decided it needed to be revised, mostly from dating the birth of Nicholas van Rijn to 2421 instead of my earlier suggestion he was born in 2424.  And that made it necessary to revise my suggested dates for the birth of David Falkayn and many of the stories set during the Polesotechnic League.  I remained largely satisfied with the dates I proposed for the stories set in the Imperial era and made only minor changes to that part of the Chronology.

Several editions of the Technic Civilization stories of Poul Anderson (Gregg Press, Ace Books, Baen Books) have attached to them a chronology compiled by Sandra Miesel, an excellent commentator on the works of Anderson.  This chronology lists in internal chronological order all the stories and novels of the Technic Civilization series through periods like that of the Polesotechnic League and the Terran Empire.  Miesel also added many annalistic notes to her chronology.

For those who wish to read the Technic Civilization stories in chronological order, or merely to have a list of the stories in a correct temporal sequence, Sandra Miesel has done readers of Anderson's works a real favor.  However, commentators like Dr. Paul Shackley have discovered inconsistencies in some of Miesel's proposed dates which contradicts what the texts says.

For example, Miesel dates the birth of Nicholas van Rijn to AD 2376 and the crucial Polesotechnic League's Council of Hiawatha to 2400.  However, as discussed by Dr. Shackley in his note "Inconsistencies II," Nicholas van Rijn was born too late to have attended that council.  The section of Chapter IX of MIRKHEIM which discussed the Council of Hiawatha ended with "But when a century had passed--".  Nicholas van Rijn could not have attended that council because he was 80 years old at the time of the Mirkheim/Baburite crisis.  He would need to have been, implausibly, well over a century in age.

I have no objection to keeping Miesel's dating of the Council of Hiawatha to 2400, but I believe dating van Rijn's birth to 2421 is more accurate.  And since the Mirkheim/Baburite war came when van Rijn was 80 years old, that means it should be dated 2501 (not in 2456, Miesel's date).  This has the advantage of not contradicting what Chapter IX of MIRKHEIM said about "But when a century had passed."

Another error in Miesel's chronology contradicting what the texts say are her dates for "Lodestar" and MIRKHEIM.  She dates the events in "Lodestar" and MIRKHEIM to 2446 and 2456.  However, the Prologue to MIRKHIEIM clearly dates the events in that book to EIGHTEEN, not 10, years after "Lodestar."  My revision of her chronology dates those stories to 2483 and 2501.

The next major inconsistency in Miesel's chronology contradicting what the texts say came from her dating the foundation of the Terran Empire to the 28th century and the birth of Dominic Flandry to AD 3000.  These dates clash with what Chapter 10 of ENSIGN FLANDRY says, as the Merseian prime minister Brechdan Ironrede was going to the Imperial embassy for an official reception: "His destination was another offense, a compound of residences and offices in the garish bubble style of the Imperium four hundred years ago."  This indicates the Empire had existed for over four centuries by the time of ENSIGN FLANDRY (because it is reasonable to think schools of architecture needed some time after the Empire arose to become popular).

However, one problem with this dating is that we don't know how long the year of the planet Merseia was when compared to our Earth's year.  We don't know whether it was longer or shorter than the Terran year. Nonetheless it does indicate the Empire was older than the three centuries or so her chronology gives it by the time of ENSIGN FLANDRY.

Moreover, Miesel herself contradicts her chronology when she wrote in her "Introduction" for THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND (Gregg Press: 1977): "The Empire is its third century when it moves against the Domain in its first aggressive campaign against a civilized foe."  Another chronological indication can be found in Chapter 8 of Anderson's THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, as Ivar Frederiksen briefly summarized the history of relations between the Empire and the Domain of Ythri: "Still, it [the Domain] grew.  So did Empire, Terra's, that is, till they met and clashed.  Couple centuries ago, they fought."  Now, if the Empire had existed a little over two centuries by the time of the Ythrian War and then that conflict was at least two centuries in the past by the time of THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, that can only mean it had lasted more than four centuries by then.

Therefore, I would argue for dating the birth of Dominic Flandry to AD 3100, not 3000 (the year Miesel chose).  The later date better fits the chronological evidence I collected from the texts.  I am still puzzled how Miesel could have missed, for example, such crucial indications as the Prologue of MIRKHEIM saying the Baburite war occurred 18 years after "Lodestar."

In addition, I suggested below that Josip died in 3142 rather than in 3141 (Miesel's date was 3041) because a slightly longer reign for that Emperor fitted better the background of the stories.  That is, it gives more time for the events recorded in those stories to take place without being crowded together too tightly.

If the argument I gave above is correct, then that means many, not all, of the dates given by Miesel in her chronology needs to be changed.  Mostly by proposing dates later than the ones she chose.  In the chronology given by me below, the dates I advocate are given first while Miesel's dates are given in square brackets.  For the most part I used the "Chronology of Technic Civilization" to be found in the Gregg Press edition of ENSIGN FLANDRY.  I also thought it best, for simplicity's sake, to omit many of the annalistic notes added by Sandra Miesel.  I omitted many bibliographical details for similar reasons.

In my proposed revision of Sandra Miesel's Chronology I preferred to list the stories by their first magazine or book publication dates.  To be strictly accurate I should say that Poul Anderson revised a few of these stories: "Margin of Profit," "The White King's War," "Tiger by the Tail," "Honorable Enemies," and "Warriors from Nowhere."  These later versions should be considered canonical and first appeared in THE EARTHBOOK OF STORMGATE ("Margin of Profit") and in the Ace Books and Gregg Press editions of the Dominic Flandry stories ("The White King's War," GALAXY, October 1969, was incorporated in A CIRCUS OF HELLS).

The Breakup and the Polesotechnic League

2055  "The Saturn Game," ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION (cited as ASF), February, 1981
2150  "Wings of Victory," ASF, April, 1972
24th century  "The Problem of Pain," FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, February, 1973
2400  The Council of Hiawatha
2421 [2376]  Birth of Nicholas van Rijn
2451 [2406]  Birth of David Falkayn
2461 [2416]  "Margin of Profit," ASF, September, 1956
2461 [2416]  "How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson," FUTURE QUEST, ed. Roger Elwood, Avon Books, 1974
2468 [2416]  "The Three Cornered Wheel," ASF, October, 1963
2471 [2426]  WAR OF THE WING MEN, Ace Books, 1958
2471 [2426]  "Esau," ASF, February, 1970
2472 [2427]  "Hiding Place," ASF, March, 1961
2472 [2427]  "Territory," ASF, June, 1963
2473              "A Sun Invisible," ASF, April, 1966
2476 [2427]  "The Trouble Twisters," as "Trader Team," ASF, July-August, 1965
2478 [2433]  "Day of Burning," as "Supernova," ASF, January, 1967
3478 [2433]  "The Master Key," ASF, July, 1964
2482 [2437]  SATAN'S WORLD, Doubleday, 1969
2482 [2437]  "A Little Knowledge," ASF, August 1971
2482 [2437]  "The Season of Forgiveness," BOY'S LIFE, December, 1973
2483 [2446]  "Lodestar," ASTOUNDING: THE JOHN W. CAMBPBELL MEMORIAL ANTHOLOGY, ed. by Harry Harrison, Random House, 1973
2501 [2456]  MIRKHEIM, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977
Early 26th century [late 25th century], settlement of Avalon
26th century, "Wingless on Avalon," BOY'S LIFE, July, 1973
26th century, "Rescue on Avalon," in CHILDREN OF INFINITY, ed. Roger Elwood, Franklin Watts, 1973
26th  centruy, dissolution of the Polesotechnic League

The Time of Troubles and the Terran Empire

2600-2700 [27th century]  The Time of Troubles
Late 27th century, "The Star Plunderer," PLANET STORIES (cited as PS), September, 1952
2700  Manuel Argos founds the Terran Empire, Principate phase begins
28th century, "Sargasso of Lost Starships," PS, January, 1952
29th century [30th C], Covenant of Alfzar
2925 [29th century], THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND, New American Library, 1973
3100 [3000]  Birth of Dominic Flandry
3119 [3019]  ENSIGN FLANDRY, Chilton, 1966
3121 [3021]  A CIRCUS OF HELLS, New American Library, 1971
3122 [3022]  Josip succeeds Georgios as Emperor
3125 [3025]  THE REBEL WORLDS, New American Library,1969
3127 [3027]  "Outpost of Empire," GALAXY, December, 1967
3128 [3028]  THE DAY OF THEIR RETURN, Doubleday, 1973
3132 [3032]  "Tiger by the Tail," PS, January, 1951
3133 [3033]  "Honorable Enemies," FUTURE COMBINED WITH SCIENCE FICTION STORIES, May, 1951
3135 [3035]  "The Game of Glory," VENTURE, March, 1958
3137 [3037]  "A Message in Secret," as MAYDAY ORBIT, Ace Books, 1961
3138 [3038]  "A  Plague of Masters," as EARTHMAN, GO HOME, Ace Books, 1961
3140 [3040]  WE CLAIM THESE STARS! (also HUNTERS OF THE SKY CAVE), Ace Books, 1959
3042 [3041]  Hans Molitor succeeds Josip as Emperor after brief civil war, supplants short lived Imperial relative as Emperor.
3143 [3042]  "Warriors from Nowhere," as "Ambassadors of Flesh," PS, Summer, 1954
3148 [3047]  A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS, New American Library, 1975
3155  Dietrich succeeds Hans as Emperor
3157  Gerhart succeeds Dietrich as Emperor
3162 [3061]  A STONE IN HEAVEN, Ace Books, 1979
3167 [3064]  THE GAME OF EMPIRE, Baen Books, 1985
Early fourth millennium, the Empire enters its Dominate phase
Circa AD 3500, Fall of the Terran Empire, the Long Night begins.  War, piracy, anarchy, economic collapse, and isolation devastate countless worlds.

The Long Night

3600  "A Tragedy of Errors," GALAXY, February, 1968
3900  THE NIGHT FACE, Ace Books, 1978
4000  "The Sharing of Flesh," GALAXY, December, 1968
7100  "Starfog," ASF, August, 1967