Wednesday, 23 October 2013

From Valti To Jorun

I now see the twenty installments of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History as a unity. Their theme is the eventual triumph of human self-understanding through the science of psychotechnics:

in the opening installment, "Marius," Valti's equations begin to be applied;
four installments show early successes of psychotechnics;
two show the beginnings of social problems;
over tens of thousands of years, there are four setbacks -

the Humanist revolution leading to the outlawing of the Psychotechnic Institute;
the Kali-Technic conflict leading to the Second Dark Ages;
the failure of the Stellar Union Coordination Service leading to the Third Dark Ages;
a slave-owning Empire, sacked by barbarians;

in the concluding installment, "The Chapter Ends," psychotechnicians coordinate Galactic Civilization.

I must stop making this comparison but I think that:

Anderson's series about psychotechnics is better than Asimov's Trilogy about psychohistory;
Anderson's series about the Rise and Fall of the Terran Empire is better than Asimov's series about the Rise and Fall of the Galactic Empire;
Anderson's series about a time travel organization intervening in history is better than Asimov's novel about a time travel organization intervening in history;
Anderson's detective fiction is better written than Asimov's;
Anderson wrote historical fiction whereas Asimov didn't;
Asimov's many short stories and novels about robots are, of course, more comprehensive than Anderson's single story in the Psychotechnic History - but Anderson makes a valid point, nevertheless.

"The Chapter Ends" ends with an individual realizing that he has maybe made a bad choice but the story of humanity continues beyond the end of the series.

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