Thursday, 19 May 2016

Large Objects

Regular blog readers know my philosophy. Fully to appreciate Poul Anderson, we compare or contrast him with many diverse authors, including other cosmically-themed hard sf writers. Anderson, Larry Niven and Gregory Benford have all written major sf series and have interacted in different ways. For a comment by Gregory Benford on one of my posts about his Anderson-related short story, see here. For comments on Anderson's contributions to Niven's Man-Kzin Wars subseries, see here.

Benford's and Niven's Bowl Of Heaven (TOR, New York, 2013) is like getting Niven's Ringworld back. I mean an artifact bigger than planets. Ringworld initiated a tetralogy and a co-written trilogy which, like the Man-Kzin Wars, are subseries of Niven's Known Space future history. Bowl... launches a new series. The authors think big and their alien characters build big.

On the title page of Part II, the authors quote Lord Dunsany:

"Man is a small thing, and the night is large and full of wonder." (p. 79)

I think that I can improve that:

"Man is small; night is wide and wondrous."

(Scottish English gives us "Man is wee..." but that sounds twee.)

We can also compare all these series with Star Trek:

"They left a skeleton crew aboard SunSeeker, with [Captain] Redwing plainly sorry that proper ship command protocols demanded that he stay aboard." (p. 81)

Captain Kirk, take note.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

NOW I'm getting interested in Benford/Niven's BOWL OF HEAVEN. I'll check into where I can get a copy. And I'm glad Benford himself left a comment on your blog.

And Captain Redwing was RIGHT. Ancient maritime and naval law and custom (which I'm sure will be transferred to space) makes it mandatory for ship captains not to risk their lives without need. Their duty is to think of the ship and crew as a whole, not simply small groups sent on this or that task.