Thursday, 10 December 2015

Remember Wells

The Great War was renamed the First World War when there had been a Second. The Third World War is a concept and a possibility though not yet history. HG Wells predicted the Great War and called it The War in The Air. This novel is narrated from the perspective of a later scientifically based peaceful world civilization, a perspective that is echoed in Sandra Miesel's Foreword to Poul Anderson's The Psychotechnic League:

"From the standpoint of our mature integrated culture, World War III was a painful childhood illness of our race."
-Sandra Miesel, Foreword IN Poul Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981), pp. 10-11 AT p, 10.

Miesel's Foreword also echoes the Time Chart of Robert Heinlein's Future History, which culminates in:

"...the end of human adolescence, and beginning of first mature culture."
-Robert Heinlein, The Man Who Sold The Moon (London, 1963), pp. 6-7 AT p. 7.

Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come outlines the emergence of a scientifically based peaceful world civilization.

In his Author's Note to The Psychotechnic League, Anderson cites Heinlein and Olaf Stapledon as earlier future historians. Wells preceded both:

Stapledon combines the Wellsian themes of space travel, time travel, Martian invasion and future history in a single volume;

Heinlein has the same four themes in separate works - if we change "Martian invasion" to "alien invasion," - including three "first men in the moon" stories;

 the title character of the title story of The Man Who Sold The Moon somewhere mentions having read Wells, Verne and Smith;

the suspended animation company in Heinlein's The Door Into Summer distributes Wells' The Sleeper Wakes as promotional literature.

Anderson indirectly acknowledges Wells in There Will Be Time - and even less overtly in "Time Patrol" by sending Manse Everard to the year of publication of The Time Machine. I recently discussed references to communism in The Time Machine and Anderson's "The Sensitive Man."

"Remember Wells" is a continual refrain on this blog - but also appreciate Poul Anderson as a major successor.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

My view is that Poul Anderson tends to be skeptical of dreams, speculations, or hopes for a "mature integrated culture. Even his most carefully worked out speculations about what such a culture might look like (in his four HARVEST OF STARS books) shows how flawed and prone to conflict it was.

I think the only example of such a "mature integrated culture" to be found in Anderson's works are the Danellians, who founded the Time Patrol. And we never SEE the Danellian civilization close up, so we don't know what it was like. And I'm sure you recall me suggesting that even the Danellian civilization might eventually fall.