Saturday, 25 February 2017

From Poe To Anderson

Nineteenth century periodicals published short stories, which could be republished in collections, and serials, which could be republished as novels. An innovation in periodical publication was the series, which grew in two stages. First, Edgar Allen Poe wrote three short stories, published in different journals, about the detective Dupin although the word "detective" did not exist yet. Secondly, Arthur Conan Doyle conceived of "a new kind of serial," for periodical publication. Each episode would be a complete story but the episodes would be linked by continuing characters and settings as in a serial. Thus, the reader would appreciate continuity and familiarity but would be less disappointed on missing an episode. Sherlock Holmes was the first series character in this full sense.

Holmes' many successors include Poul Anderson's:

Trygve Yamamura, a (very different) detective;
Nicholas van Rijn of the Polesotechnic League;
Dominic Flandry of the Terran Empire;
Manse Everard of the Time Patrol.

All four are central characters of a series and apply Holmesian detective skills. Everard begins his Time Patrol career by investigating an untold Holmes case and meets Holmes. Full circle.

Robert Heinlein invented the future history series which covers several generations of a fictional history and therefore has no central character. Poul Anderson modeled his Psychotechnic History on Heinlein's Future History, then linked his van Rijn and Flandry series and several other works into the History of Technic Civilization. Thus:

short stories in periodicals and collections;
longer stories, serialized;
serials republished as novels;
series of short stories and novels;
future history series;
a longer future history series incorporating two character-based series and several novels.

Imagine reading:

the Dupin stories;
the Holmes series;
precursors of the Time Patrol (see here);
the Time Patrol series;
other Holmes successors, like Poirot;
the Yamamura trilogy;
the pre-series, single novel, future histories of Wells and Stapledon;
the Future History;
the Psychotechnic History;
the Technic History;
Anderson's six other future histories;
other successors of Heinlein.

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Welcome back! I would have included Anson Guthrie (and his downloads!) as one of Poul Anderson's series characters (seen in the HARVEST OF STARS books). Altho some might wonder if the download of a deceased person could be call that. Assuming, of course, that it ever becomes possible to use technology to download the personality or "soul" of a human being into a computer program. To say nothing of "implanting" such a person's dowmload into a new body.

    Sean

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