Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fifty Thousand Years

"'Thousands of years ago, men learned how to control the great basic forces of the cosmos with only a small bit of energy.'"

- Poul Anderson, Starship (New York, 1982), p. 260.

Yet another passage demonstrating that "The Chapter Ends" is set a lot further in the future than is suggested by the Chronology of the Psychotechnic Series (pp. 284-285).

However, a bit further on, there is a passage that tells us something more:

"'The Sirius Sector has been an isolated, primi- ah - quiet region since the First Empire fell, fifty thousand years ago.'" (p. 263)

And how long would the Empire have taken to rise and flourish after the Third Dark Ages which, if I have read the Chronology correctly, ended about 4000 AD?

"The Chapter Ends" summarizes a miniature future history and could stand as a one-off work. However, since only a very small change in the Chronology would eliminate the chronological contradiction between this story and the "earlier" nineteen works of the Psychotechnic History, I am now more inclined to accept Anderson's word that these twenty works form a single series.

It is unbalanced as a future history with just one installment set so long after all the others and with so many intervening events merely referred to but it was Anderson's first attempt at this kind of fiction and I am finding it fascinating to reread and analyze.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I agree with you that it would be VERY interesting to reread and analyze Poul Anderson's first "future history,' the Psychotechnic League, both to determine its strengths and weaknesses. And tnen to compare it to the much more sophisticated Technic Civilization and Harvest of Stars series. Considering how the Technic History actually started as TWO separate series, the fact that Anderson was able to "splice" them together with very few signs of them having once been separates shows how much more COMPETENT a writer he had become by the time he wrote "A Plague of Masters" (the story where he made that "splice").