Monday, 21 October 2013


Occasionally, the author of a future history series adds verisimilitude and depth to his fictitious history by introducing installments with passages "quoted" from historical texts notionally written in the future. Most notably, Poul Anderson invented the "Earthbook of Stormgate"as a framework for several periods of his History of Technic Civilization - in fact, for all the interstellar but pre-Flandry periods.

In Anderson's earlier Psychotechnic History, one story, "The Troublemakers", about a slower than light, multi-generation, interstellar spaceship, is preceded by an italicized passage from Starward! by Enrico Yamatsu. Following this lead, Sandra Miesel refers to "Yamatsu's classic history Starward!..." in her Foreword to the later volume, Starship (New York, 1982), p. 9.

Thus, she informs us that Yamatsu also covers the later period of faster than light travel. The single passage quoted from Yamatsu ends:

"The Pioneer, first of her class, was launched in 2126. A hundred and twenty-three years to Alpha Centauri - five or six generations, more than a long lifetime - but the dream would not be denied..."

- Cold Victory (New York, 1982), p. 32.

Here is a second definite year date in Anderson's texts. "The Big Rain" is set in 2051 and the Pioneer is launched in 2126.

I feel obliged to ask Yamatsu, "What dream?" Do governments launch manned spacecraft because the people who travel in those craft have dreamed of traveling through space? Governments usually expect some return which they are unlikely to receive from a one way extrasolar voyage.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

But I can imagine the possibility of governments sponsoring space travel if doing so also gives them a chance to be rid of bothersome malcontents. Which is what we see in ORBIT UNLIMITED. Or a government might settle a colony with convicts, rather than have to either hand or imprison them. Which is what happened in the early years of Australia.


Paul Shackley said...

Yes. Sending people away was relieving social pressure on Earth.