Friday, 19 December 2014


Regular readers of this blog might notice my random movements back and forth within Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization. It is unpredictable which of the forty three installments will appeal next. However, it is possible to get into a frame of mind where known texts are reread with special attention to descriptive details and even to single words like "livewell" and "forever" in Chapter I of Mirkheim.

It is my opinion that Anderson's texts easily bear this amount of careful rereading and academic study. I know that there is repetition on the blog. However, each time I write something, it feels fresh, so I keep doing it. But we move on sometimes. I think that I have stopped unfavorably comparing Isaac Asimov with Poul Anderson - although just writing that gets me going again.

Whereas Asimov presents the abstract idea of an interstellar empire, Anderson shows us its concrete reality, always emphasizing that each planet is a world, with an ecology and a history, not just a platform for spaceships to land on. Whereas Asimov does not explain the convenient sf cliche of hyperspace, Anderson presents several alternative scientific rationales for FTL, including his unique quantum micro-jumps version of hyperspace in the Technic History.

In a book about sf, I once read a version of hyperspace that I have not seen in any fictional work. Matter cannot exceed light speed through space but a volume of space containing matter could be moved at above light speed? Or something? Maybe Anderson could have added this one to his list.

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