Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Poul Anderson's "The Chapter Ends" is about endings on several levels:

(i) it is the concluding installment of a future history series;

(ii) in it, the small remaining population of the Sirius Sector, including the Solar System, is evacuated en masse to colony planets closer to the Galactic center -

(iii) - except for one very old man who remains on Earth, but he will survive for at most another two decades;

(iv) the Terrestrial peasants will be assimilated into Galactic Civilization, so that their distinctive way of life will end;

(v) Galactic visitors view the ruins of Sol City, capital of the First Empire, an earlier interstellar civilization that had come to its end fifty thousands years previously.

In a few brief passages, Anderson realizes past Imperial glories, apparent peasant timelessness and individual Galactics' powers. We remember the characters and entire societies of earlier installments that are not referred to here although we can see that their science of psychotechnics has at last been applied to the integration of individuals and of civilization.

We might wonder when and how the Galactic Civilization will end, as we do with the Commonalty in the concluding installment of Anderson's second future history.

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