Monday, 21 October 2013

Political And Social Stories II

The opening four "political" installments of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History are followed by three stories that describe social conditions on the future Earth, in an interstellar spaceship and on a colonized asteroid. However, the asteroid story also initiates a second political tetralogy:

in this story, "Holmgang," the anti-UN Humanists have a secret base in the Asteroid Belt;

in "Cold Victory," the Humanists have seized power on Earth but are losing it in an interplanetary war;

in "The Snows of Ganymede," the psychotechnicians, outlawed during the Humanist regime, organize and plot in the outer Solar System;

in "Brake," the Western Reformists have a secret base in the Asteroid Belt while a conflict between religion and secularism is about to plunge Earth into the Second Dark Ages, thus ending this phase of the History.

Between these political stories, there is one more social story. In "What Shall It Profit?," social dissatisfactions on Earth are so explosive that the discovery of a very restricted and impoverished kind of immortality must be kept secret. We are not told the outcome of this untenable situation but it could well be one more cause of the imminent social collapse.

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