Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Different Kinds Of Alternative Histories

Rereading "Operation Afreet" in the Collected Short Works has led to rereading in this order:

Operation Chaos
Operation Luna
the Old Phoenix passages in A Midsummer Tempest 
Three Hearts And Three Lions

I have reached only p. 45 of 156 in Three Hearts...

We have segued from Valeria Matuchek's lunar journey to Holger Carlsen's Carolingian journey via the Old Phoenix. After this, there might be a first reading of SM Stirling's Against The Tide Of Years. Another alternative history novel, except that these are entirely different kinds of alternative history:

suppose a historical event had occurred differently;
suppose time travelers had been able to change the course of events;
suppose a particular mythology, e.g., Carolingian, were literally true.

Stirling's novels address the first two suppositions whereas Anderson's address the third. This is all high quality imaginative fiction but also in very different fictional categories.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And I have to admit that in his "alternate history" books Stirling has surpassed Poul Anderson. And I don't think PA would object! Anderson would approve of other writers doing their best--and maybe outdoing him.

But I continue to believe that in purely hard SF, "this" universe terms, very very few writers can claim to have risen above the heights PA reached. Esp. in the books of his late phase: the four HARVEST OF STARS books, STAR FARERS, and GENESIS. And even fewer have worked out how non humans might think and act as well as Anderson.