Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Social Organization

How society was organized in the past and might be in the future is a big issue in sf, e.g., HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come. CS Lewis warns against scientific dictatorship in That Hideous Strength.

Poul Anderson shows us:

moots, city-states and feudalisms in the past;
a theocracy in an alternative present;
extra-solar colonial governments in the future, e.g.:

Avalon has both a Parliament of Man and a Great Khruath of all the choths;

Dennitza has a tricameral Parliament with two Houses for human beings (Lords and Folk) and one for the Zmayi;

Freehold outbackers leave the cities without reverting to savagery.

Whether intentionally or not, SM Stirling in the first two paragraphs of p. 425 of Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998) presents an amusing contrast between two very different historical ways of organizing society. The double space between the paragraphs presents a change of scene:

"Daurthunnicar signaled the waiting women to bring in the food and drink. 'Come, feast with us, be guests and peace-holy,' he said. 'We will speak more of this.'"

"The session of the Constitutional Committee's core group was fairly informal, a dozen people sitting around a table with notepads and plates of cookies, and Swindapa at the foot taking shorthand notes..."


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think I see what you mean, groups of humans seem congenitally UNABLE to discuss even the most serious matters without also having food or drink. That can be amusing!


Paul Shackley said...

I really meant just the contrast between sacredness and practicality: peace-holiness as against the formality of a "Constitutional Committee."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Understood. And I would say Daurthunnicar was also being formal when he invoked "peace-holiness" on his dinner guests.