Thursday, 24 October 2013


In a future history, no detail is unimportant. A major event in one story can provide a background detail for another story that might be set centuries later with no character continuity or plot linearity. Thus, a network of cross-references between otherwise independent stories binds together the future history.

In Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History:

I have yet to read "Green Thumb" but an internet book review reveals that it is about human beings who colonize a planet, then suspect that one of its species is intelligent;
"Virgin Planet" reveals that the Stellar Union Coordination Service has a base on the planet Nerthus and that Carsten was a planetary explorer or discoverer;
The Peregrine reveals that Nerthus is Carsten's Star III;
"The Pirate" reveals that Nerthus was humanly colonized before it was realized that it already had intelligent life.

These clues generate a high probability that "Green Thumb" is about Carsten on Nerthus. I still know nothing about the other uncollected story, "The Acolytes."


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

It's been a very long time since I last reread VIRGIN PLANET, but a few thoughts about it came to my mind. I was interested in how the book is based on the premise of the planet being originally settled by a shipload of women who were forced to crash land on it while en route to another world. And that the only means of reproduction they had was artificially induced cloning--altho that meant only genetically identical copies of the women could be "made."

As we both know, Poul Anderson carefully thought thru many of the implications of such a scenario. One being that a world settled by one human sex would tend to evolve into a rigid caste system, with the different types of castes descending from the different kinds of personality found among the women in the original passengers and crew. There would be a domineering caste of take charge, natural leader women caste, a concubine caste, a soldier caste, etc.

I did would add that this scenario of an all women settled planet would make sense only if the MEN in the crew of the original colony ship were all killed or made unable to reproduce during the crash landing. Or was the ship's crew also all women?


Paul Shackley said...

Back from Leicester. I think the crew was women only, as for one of the ships in AFTER DOOMSDAY, but I will reread. there is far more in the Psychotechnic History than I thought.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Yes, one of the few surviving human ships we see in AFTER DOOMSDAY was crewed by women. And, yes, as we reflect on the Psychotechnic League series, we are continually surprised by how MUCH is in those stories. Despite the fact I consider that series to be weaker than either the Technic Civilization or Harvest of Stars "histories."

I don't know if you read Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality of Mankind" stories (which I heartily recommend). One of them, "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal," is based on the premise of a planet inhabited only by men. And they too had to reproduce by cloning. Interestingly grotesque ramifications, a planet settled only by males.