Monday, 24 October 2016

Van Rijn's Qualifications

 "Poul Anderson immerses you in the future....Anderson puts you into a whole new world."
-Larry Niven, quoted on the back cover of Poul Anderson, The Technic Civilization Saga: David Falkayn: Star Trader (New York, 2010), compiled by Hank Davis.

I am finding that Larry Niven's statement is literally true. I am immersed in the Polesotechnic League period of the Technic History and can continue to blog about it indefinitely. And what better audience for a blogger than Poul Anderson fans?

Nicholas van Rijn explains to Adzel why he, van Rijn, is best placed to handle a major threat to Technic civilization:

Adzel himself is too naive and trusting;
most other people are stupid or hysterical;
some chop up the universe to suit their political theory;
others are greedy or cruel;
van Rijn invokes the intercession of St Dismas;
he also seeks advice from good people whom he tells as much as they need to know.

This makes me realize that van Rijn takes his often invoked saintly intercession seriously. That some people fit the universe into their own political theory is a cliche that also happens to be true. Leon Trotsky thought that World War II would end in the collapse of capitalism. Therefore, when the War ended but capitalism had not collapsed, some orthodox Trotskyists argued that the War had not ended! However, there are unorthodox Trotskyists who learn from new experiences and who disagree with Trotsky when necessary. The leading theoretician of one such group argued that the British Poll Tax would be defeated not by a non-payment campaign but by industrial action. The Tax was in fact defeated by a non-payment campaign spearheaded by an orthodox group. The unorthodox group then acknowledged that its leading theoretician had been wrong on that issue whereas theory fetishists never admit that they have been wrong about anything. That is a small contribution based on my experience of political theoreticians but they are not the kind of guys that van Rijn would have conferred with so let's return to the Technic History...


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And as we both know, Poul Anderson had only skepticism for rigid theorists. Their Robespierre like fanaticism often did far more harm than the merely incompetent or corrupt.


    1. Kaor, Paul!

      I should have also added that Old Nick's comments about greedy or cruel persons reminded me of those short sighted, unscrupulous merchants who sold advanced weapons and space ships to barbarians. You can bet some, both in and out of government, would have tried to make deals with the Shenna!

      I'm reminded as well of Anderson's story "A Little Knowledge," where we see some very similar persons and how they got their comeuppance!