Sunday, 20 April 2014

Back To The Future History

When you have reread a lot of Poul Anderson's works and are unsure where to turn next, you cannot go far wrong by browsing through the History of Technic Civilization.

I spent a lot of time earlier on this blog rethinking how best to package the History for publication. Baen Books' seven volume Technic Civilization Saga is excellent. My main difference with it is that I would want eight volumes to cover distinct periods or sections of the History rather than seven volumes of uniform length.

Baens' first four volumes are:

The Van Rijn Method (collecting 11 works);
David Falkayn: Star Trader (7);
Rise Of The Terran Empire (6);
Young Flandry (3).

My first four would be:

Rise Of The Polesotechnic League (9);
Decline Of The Polesotechnic League (9);
Rise Of The Terran Empire (6);
Young Flandry And The Terran Empire (3).

Baen Books has "Esau" as the the tenth installment in Vol I. However, the Ythrian Hloch's Introduction to "Esau" in The Earthbook Of Stormgate states that League philosophy and practice as shown in the story were becoming archaic so I think that this story belongs not only in Vol II but also near the end of that Volume, although not at the very end because "Lodestar" is already an excellent conclusion.

"Esau" should not, as it does, come immediately before "Hiding Place," especially since the latter has an introductory passage beginning, "The world's great age begins anew..." - The Van Rijn Method (New York, 2009), p. 555.

The archaism should not precede the new beginning! However, that introductory passage would be best placed before the first story that mentions the League. The entire History divides into four stages:

(i) Interplanetary and Interstellar Exploration (the first three stories);
(ii) The History of the Polesotechnic League (from the fourth work in Vol I to the third work in Vol III);
(iii) The History of the Terran Empire (from the fourth work in Vol III to the end of the second last Volume - here I differ from Baen);
(iv) The Post-Imperial Age (the entire last Volume - here again I differ from Baen).

Each of these stages could have an internal title page with "The world's great age begins anew..." introducing the entire League period. There is more to say about this but we are just on our way out for an Easter Sunday evening meal.

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