Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Solar Union

In the incomplete three volume collection of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History series, are Sandra Miesel's interstitial passages consistent with Anderson's texts and is the future history internally consistent? In her Foreword to Volume II, Cold Victory (New York, 1982), Miesel paints a utopian picture:

unsurpassed output;
automation compensating for depopulation;
demand after decades of want;
soaring economy;
solar power;
synthetic fuels;
energy-storing superdielectrics;
power-beaming satellites;
regreened Earth;
ecological awareness;
Pancosmic religion;
undersea settlements;
interplanetary colonization;
domed lunar, asteroidal and Ganymedean cities;
terraformed Mars and Venus;
the Order of Planetary Engineers;
human potential maximized by the Tighe Synthesis, " elaborate holistic conditioning system..." (p. 12);
the science of psychodynamics;
the Rostomily Brotherhood (Miesel uses the word "cloned");
Venus liberated from dictatorship in 2065;
a clan-based Venerian society with celebrated romantic folkways and experimental local autonomy;
a powerful, prestigious Psychotechnic Institute;
high technology triumphant;
universal benefits of the Second Industrial Revolution;
no hunger or homelessness;
work a privilege, no longer an obligation;
a common rigorous language, Basic;
the Solar Union space navy guarding colonies from Venus to the asteroid belt;
the New Enlightenment;
"But there were shadows..." (p. 13)

Why shadows? If everything is so good, then why does anything go bad? Is this a consistent picture? The Solar Union period of the History comprises three "social" and four "political" stories. (See here.) One "social" story tells us about mass technological unemployment. The four "political" stories inform us of political opposition to the Psychotechnic Institute. It is necessary to reread these works in order to assess the consistency and plausibility of the History.

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