Sunday, 25 September 2016

Not Paranoia But Realism

In Poul Anderson's Ensign Flandry, is Max Abrams paranoid about the Merseians? No. He makes a realistic assessment:

the Merseians have no reason to be on Starkad;
there is a mystery as to how they came to be there;
they are obviously stalling the talks.

So Abrams digs deeper and finds something monstrous. His apparent paranoia pays off. And he would not have been equally "paranoid" towards any and every alien government.

However, Poul Anderson created the Merseians to be formidable opponents in a space opera series. He shows us very different aliens in other works. In how many real life situations is Abrams' apparent paranoia warranted? Here we enter controversial territory. This blog invites controversy - but, in the current post, it merely raises a question for page viewers to consider!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

You asked when a possible case of paranoia can be justified or not. The unsatisfactory answer is that it depends--on a sober and realistic ASSESSMENT of a possible threat.

It WOULD be paranoia to fear the little principality of Andorra is a threat to world peace. It it NOT paranoia to fear what might very well happen when Iran finally gets nuclear weapons. While we do need to discount SOME of Iran's menacing bluster and threats as just loud talk--I don't think it can mostly be dismissed.

And other possible dangers are all too plausible. Such as what might happened if the Islamic State succeeds in becoming a permanent theocratic state with global ambitions.

And we also have to give a thought to Chinese ambitions as well. Alas, I fear we live in times all too conducive to APPEARING paranoid. Or at least to pessimism.


David Birr said...

"It WOULD be paranoia to fear the little principality of Andorra is a threat to world peace."

That's just what Andorra's secret dictator WANTS you to think!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, David!

Ha, ha, ha!!! What are you trying to do, stimulate even more paranoia in me? Get me looking for plots under every bed? (Smiles)

More seriously, I was trying to think of a nation as utterly harmless and un-threatening as possible. I don't think Andorra has ever FOUGHT a war in its long, quiet history.


Paul Shackley said...

That proves they are preparing for one!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Ha, ha, ha! Et tu? Now you are trying to make me more paranoid than ever! (Smiles)