Thursday, 18 February 2016
The Boat Of A Million Years
For Love And Glory
Time Patrol and The Shield of Time
These three novels and one series are all very good hard sf by Poul Anderson. In each, human life-spans are extended indefinitely. The three novels address the problem that indefinitely accumulating memories would overwhelm a finite brain. In The Boat..., each of the immortals must somehow solve this problem for him- or herself whereas, in World... and FLAG, there is a technology that can selectively erase memories.
In FLAG, Torsten Hebo is about nine hundred Terran years old. Thus, he joins the ranks of:
Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long;
Poul Anderson's Hugh Valland and Hanno;
James Blish's John Amalfi;
Larry Niven's Louis Wu.
Failures of memory put Hebo in a socially embarrassing situation and then nearly get him killed. He will return to Earth for memory editing and thus we, the readers, will see what has become of our home planet in that remote future.
FLAG's fifty four chapters fill only 290 pages so the chapters are short. Chapters I-VII, pp. 11-41, are set on a single planetary surface. In Chapter VIII, the spaceship Dagmar has returned Karl to his home planet, Gargantua, and will return three other beings to their home planet, Xanadu, before returning the human beings to their home planet, Asborg. Conversation on the ship informs us about the politics and economics of Asborg. The chapter ends by telling us that something important awaits Lissa on Asborg but we forget about this as soon as we turn to Chapter IX which begins with Hebo approaching Earth.
And I will now leave blog readers in suspense while I go about other business for a while...