Monday, 13 October 2014


Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is a series of forty three installments, yet seems too short. Each installment is packed with condensed information, yet the complete series points beyond itself. Two entire volumes after Aycharaych's home planet, Chereion, has been destroyed, the mere possibility that he might have survived is raised but never referred to again. As with real history, we can never know the whole story.

This long series, collected in seven dense volumes, is broken down into more manageable units. For example, the trader team sub-sub-series comprises only four works and might therefore be described as a tetralogy:

in "The Trouble Twisters"/"Trader Team," the team is formed and has its first mission;
in "Day of Burning," the team saves Merseia;
in Satan's World, the team does intelligence work, first in the Solar System, then at Beta Crucis and outside known space;
in "Lodestar," the team works in secret, its leader, Falkayn, even breaking his oath of fealty to Nicholas van Rijn.

Thus, we see the team on only one ordinary mission. "Lodestar" is a conclusion whereas Mirkheim (both titles referring to the same planet) is a sequel. The team, long disbanded, is reassembled just once more and for no ordinary mission but only as an emergency measure on the eve of war. Much has happened between installments. The team was rich enough to have retired at the end of Satan's World. After "Lodestar," Coya Conyon married Falkayn and joined the team before starting a family. There are no stories with Coya in the team, although there is one reminiscence of this period by Falkayn.

The David Falkayn series comprises:

"The Three-Cornered Wheel"
"A Sun Invisible"
the trader team series
the sequel to the trader team series

Thus, Falkayn appears in a total of seven works. The van Rijn series overlaps with the Falkayn series but also contains six other works. According to the Chronology of Technic Civilization, these thirteen works and six others are set during the period of the Polesotechnic League.

Skipping for the moment over an intermediate period, the History concludes with:

a Young Flandry trilogy;
an "Outposts" diptych;
a Captain Flandry tetralogy;
a Captain Flandry diptych;
a Molitor dynasty tetralogy;
a post-Imperial tetralogy.

As I say, manageable units but nevertheless encompassing an immense volume of space and three cycles of interstellar history.


Paul Shackley said...

I will shortly turn in before a long car journey tomorrow but a future post should be about how van Rijn is maybe a more complex and subtle character than we might give him credit for.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

OF course Nicholas van Rijn is far more subtle and complex a person than his comically fractured Anglic and his gleefully ostentatious "greed" might lead casual readers to think. So, I look forward to your analysis of Old Nick's character!