Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Unique Evolution

Let us consider the unique evolution of Poul Anderson's eight future histories in more detail. Since the first two histories have FTL, aliens and interstellar empires whereas the last two have STL, no aliens and human-AI interaction, that leaves four intermediate histories, none with FTL. It is as if Anderson deconstructs future histories, then rebuilds them from first principles.

In the Maurai History, mankind recovers from nuclear war and has barely resumed space travel by the end of the series - although the related time travel novel, There Will Be Time, tells us about an interstellar future.

In Tales Of The Flying Mountains, mankind colonizes the asteroids and is just beginning extrasolar colonization by the end of the series.

In the Rustum History, several extrasolar planets are colonized.

In the Kith History, there is interstellar trade. This history exists in two versions. In the first, there is a Star Empire and a journey to the galactic center at relativistic speeds by political exiles. In the second, there is a long journey to visit an alien civilization. So much time elapses that the theme of the rise and fall of civilizations returns.

In the last two histories, AI takes over.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think the hint we see of interstellar travel and communication we see in THERE WILL BE TIME should be understood as being done by FTL means. Because otherwise I simply don't think it would be practical to do by STL means--unless the peoples involved were willing to up with how slow it was.

Readers: the stories set in the Rustum timeline and GENESIS are two of the four intermediate timelines not using FTL.


Paul Shackley said...

Sean and Readers,

It had not occurred to me that the interstellar travel in THERE WILL BE TIME should be FTL. But I was impressed by the suggestion near the end of the book that STL+time travel=FTL: a time traveler can travel forward along the world line of an STL interstellar ship, then return along that world line, arriving back on Earth before the ship's departure.

That was an idea that I had thought of but was not able to write into a novel as Anderson did.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Dang! I completely missed or forgot that, the time travelers in THERE WILL BE TIME using STL space ships to, de facto, travel FTL. BUT, that would only work for time travelers, and be no use to either humans or non humans unable to time travel.