Tuesday, 17 April 2018
SF Cliches And Poul Anderson
Other individual inventors, not necessarily insane, e.g., Frankenstein, the Time Traveler, Cavor, the Invisible Man.
The artificial intelligence that threatens or even destroys its human creator.
Hostile green humanoid aliens.
This line of thinking was occasioned by the fact that the mad scientist in Leslie Charteris' "The Man Who Liked Ants" (see here) has a beautiful - wait for it - niece!
Frankenstein and its theme of the social role of scientists were, of course, not a cliche but the beginning of modern science fiction. In Poul Anderson's Genesis, not only do post-organic intelligences succeed humanity but one such intelligence even emulates Frankenstein by recreating humanity.
Individual inventors were a nineteenth century phenomenon but Poul Anderson probably has one or two in his short stories.
Anderson's space opera included FTL interstellar travel via hyperspace and green Merseian antagonists of the Terran Empire. His History of Technic Civilization transforms these cliches into an original "quantum jumps" rationale for "hyperspace" and an analysis of the decline and fall of civilizations.