Wednesday, 6 January 2016

A Later Period

Another comparison is drawn between space warfare and sea warfare:

"'...it became a battle of standard weapons. Which Dushanovitch-Alvarez knew how to use! A more brilliant naval mind hasn't existed since Lord Nelson.'" (Cold Victory, p. 191)

But Dushanovich-Alvarez commands a space fleet! Are his skills really comparable to those of Nelson?

However, to move on to the post-Humanist period - according to the Chronology of the Psychotechnic Series, the installments set during the Solar Union era are dated as follows:

2120 "Quixote and the Windmill"
2140 "Holmgang"
2180 "Cold Victory"
2200 "What Shall It Profit?"
2205 "The Troublemakers"
2220 The Snows Of Ganymede
2270 "Brake"

In the collection, Cold Victory, "The Troublemakers" is placed between "Quixote..." and "Holmgang." However, since "The Troublemakers" is set inside a large, slower than light spaceship leaving the Solar System, its events are not connected with anything that happens inside the System.

Although the Humanist regime has come and gone, "What Shall It Profit?" begins very like "Quixote..." Two men drinking, but only one of them drunk this time, discuss technological unemployment. The Martian Professor in "Cold Victory" was right to say that the problems addressed by the Humanists have not been resolved. The drunk man complains about the Institute. But the Psychotechnic Institute was suppressed. But this is the Institute of Human Biology.

The drunk, Barwell, makes an interesting point. Modern medicine has not increased the human lifespan. Why not? Radiation levels have gone up and radiation shortens life. So cures for radiation sickness ought to lengthen life? Drunkenly, Barwell summarizes the main idea of Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children:

"'...kept it secret. Easy t'do. Change y'r name and face ever' ten, twen'y years - keep to y'rself, don't make friends among the short-lived, you might see 'em grow old and die, might start feelin' sorry for 'em an' that would never do, would it -?'" (p. 200)

Barwell is on the right lines with his discussion of radiation but Anderson has set out to present an idea of longevity differing from Heinlein's. Barwell, claiming to have been sacked from the Institute because he learned too much, also refers to many large rooms deep underground. Human food goes down to them but no one ever comes up...

Anderson is harking back to an earlier era of science fiction when (mad?) scientists experimented in secret.

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