Saturday, 27 June 2015

Natural And Artificial Environments

How much sf is set inside entirely artificial environments? Poul Anderson has spaceships, space habitats, Lunar colonies, colonized asteroids and the urbanized Earth of the Terran Empire. However, even in this vast imperial city, the Pacific Ocean still imparts a sense of ancient forces within the planet biding their time. See here. Also, Dominic Flandry has a mountain retreat in the High Sierra. See here.

Some of Anderson's characters may be guilty of hubris, thinking that man can conquer and completely control nature, but Anderson himself does not forget the natural order of which mankind is one small part. In his heroic fantasies, nature is personified as gods. In his sf, nature is still there whether or not the human characters recognize it.

This line of thought began because I wanted to explore the "corridors of power" of Admiralty Center. Delving into the "corridors" led to considering the planetary city as a whole which in turn led to considering the planet without which the city would not be able to exist. As another Lancaster sf fan once said, "It's endless, i'n't it?"

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And don't forget the planet Zolotoy in "The High Ones," which was also a vast global city. One character in that story, viewing the planet as the ship bearing them was descending to the surface, estimated that Zolotoy's surface was 20 or 25 percent urbanized. I argued in another note that Terra during the days of the Empire should be considered as having about the same percentage of its surface urbanized. That might not seem much, but think of say, what it would look like if 20 percent of the entire North American continent was urbanized.

I also argued that since mention was made of how some members of the Imperial ariistocracy owned huge parklands and reservations, that implied that other, equally huge regions of Terra were used for agricultural purposes: farms, plantations, ranches, etc. Because I think the Imperium would not want Terra to be wholly dependent on either imports or synthetics for its food. I suggested that some farmlands were forbidden by law to be urbanized and that other regions might be exempted from taxes if used for growing or raising food.

In Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE and THE GRIPPING HAND (esp in the second book), the capital world of the Empire of Man, Sparta, had only a limited amount of surface land. The Empire exempted from taxes lands on Sparta used for agricultural purposes (and to discourage the urbanizing of those lands).

And I agree with what your friend in Lancaster said about how ENDLESS the discussion, debate, and analysis of Poul Anderson's works seems to be!