Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Preparation For War II

In Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, the Terran Empire is right to prepare for war against barbarians and Merseians but the Avalonians and Freeholders are also right to prepare for war against the Terran Empire and what of the Ansans, Aeneans and Braeans who also resist Imperial annexation albeit unsuccessfully? The Braean case is particularly unjust.

Anderson's Technic History may be unique among future histories in presenting this degree of historical ambiguity. In my formative years, ambiguity was rare and shocking. In juvenile historical fiction, the English were good guys when fighting the French but became bad guys when fighting the Scots.

In three works by SM Stirling, the evil of the cannibal Russians, the slave-owning Draka and the neo-feudal Protectorate is unequivocal. There will never be a narrative in which their enemies are wrong to oppose them.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, Poul Anderson might very well be among those rare writers in SF or F showing us ambiguity, varying degrees of rightness, etc., among people he otherwise mostly approves of.

I would point out that all expanding great powers, including real world ones such as the US, have incorporated, forcibly or not, once independent smaller nations. The Early Empire expanded only as far as it was thought necessary, pursuant to the policy laid down by the Founder himself. Aeneas is less questionable because it REBELLED against the Empire but was still treated quite mildly and reintegrated into the Imperial domain. What happened at Brae was indeed an injustice but something I don't think would have happened before the reign of the weak and bad Josip III.

I agree with what you said about Stirling's Satan worshiping Russians and slave owning Draka. But you may be surprised by how the Protectorate of the Emberverse turns out!