Thursday, 18 December 2014

Angels And Prophets

If Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization were not hard sf but fantasy, then two casual remarks by Nicholas van Rijn might have been interpreted literally.

"'I told Mortensen no calls from anyone less rank than the angel Gabriel.'"
-Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 12.

"'You shouldn't make jokes, Lennart...Is not your style. You, in a clown suit with a red balloon snoot and painted grin, would still look like about to quote some minor Hebrew prophet on a bad day.'" (p. 14)

So here is a story premise: a future Earth on which master merchants have regular telephone conversations with angels and prophets. If I had the slightest aptitude for writing fiction, then this would be enough. There would soon be dialogues, logical deductions from the premise and a surprise ending to a short story. Assume that both trade with extrasolar colonies and direct communication with Heaven have become routinized activities, as familiar to the citizens of the Solar Commonwealth as trans-Atlantic flight and the Internet now are to us, then deduce how these two previously unrelated  activities would interact - and make it all seem obvious.

Poul Anderson would have been able to write a short series but, even if he had thought of it, had better things to do!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I suggest, however , that Poul Anderson did write some "hard fantasy" novels and short stories. That is, stories where he shows supernatural beings taking an active part in human affairs. Examples being novels like OPERATION CHAOS and short stories such as "Pact."


Paul Shackley said...

He did indeed!