Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Poul Anderson's Big Four

Poul Anderson's two main series are the Technic History and the Time Patrol. His four main characters are Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn, Dominic Flandry and Manse Everard.

Falkayn works for Solar Spice & Liquors, Flandry for Terran Naval Intelligence and Everard for the Time Patrol. All three excel in their respective lines of work. Falkayn goes further by discovering Mirkheim, founding the Supermetals Company, becoming Acting CEO of SSL and leading the colonization of the planet Avalon. Flandry achieves considerably more than his job specifications. He not only defeats a rebellion but also arranges the escape of the rebels and the murder of the corrupt Governor who had provoked the rebellion and gets away with all of this. Everard leads the Patrol in divergent timelines when it is necessary to restore the history that had led to the Danellians who founded the Patrol.

Van Rijn, when we know him, does not work for anyone. He has founded and singlehandedly directs SSL. Further, he continually works to project an image of himself that will mislead his competitors and get the best results from his employees. Thus, he is the most complex of Anderson's Big Four.

Agatha Christie's The Big Four was on television last night. There are definite parallels between Poirot's and van Rijn's detective skills. Poirot deduces the motives and identities of murderers. Van Rijn deduces the motivations of alien species and thus learns how to do business with them.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with your comments about Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn, Dominic Flandry, and Manse Everard. And that the Technic Civilization and Time Patrol series were Anderson's two most substantial sets of linked stories. But of course Anderson wrote many other worthy stories and novels with prominent characters, such as Gratillonius, Hanno, and Anson Guthrie.

I would argue that as early as the Starkad affair, Dominic Flandry showed himself able to do great things indeed. And that, besides helping to squelch McCormac and Aaron Snelund, he succeeded elsewhere in strengthening and stabilizing the Empire. And, he was surprisingly modest--because men of such abilities could have aspired to far higher rank and office, in either legal or illegal ways. Instead, Flandry was long content with being a captain, resisting promotion to higher rank.