Thursday, 7 January 2016

Alternative Answers To Key Questions

Isaac Asimov wrote the collection, I, Robot. Effectively, Poul Anderson replied with one story, "Quixote and the Windmill": the first unspecialized robot is unemployed; therefore, there is no need for a second robot - or for a sequel.

Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children and James Blish's They Shall Have Stars are about the search for immortality. Effectively, Anderson replied with "What Shall It Profit?": immortality, possible only by shielding from all radiation far underground, is a dead end. In this case, there is an implied need for a sequel because the story ends with the Director of the Institute for Human Biology asking:

"'What are we going to do?'" (Cold Victory, p. 223)

We can only infer that the Institute is destroyed and its discoveries lost during the ensuing Second Dark Ages. Later, Anderson presented different accounts of immortality in World Without Stars and The Boat Of A Million Years.

Asimov's Foundation Series is about a science of society whereas Heinlein's Orphans Of The Sky is about a multi-generation interstellar spaceship. In Anderson's "The Troublemakers," a science of society is applied to the crew of a generation ship. Psychotechnicians manipulate mutinous motivations, thus preventing the kind of breakdown that made Heinlein's Vanguard crew forget the universe outside their large spinning spaceship.

These are the Campbell future historians: Heinlein, Asimov, Blish and Anderson.

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