Saturday, 19 October 2013

Wellsianism And Stapledonianism

It may not be realized how Wellsian and Stapledonian many of Poul Anderson's works are. Wells pioneered four sf themes:

time travel;
space travel;
alien invasion;
future history.

Stapledon incorporated the first three into the fourth. Thus, we read about Martian invasions of Earth not with characters and conversations but in a history book as we read about the Norman Conquest of England.

Anderson wrote several volumes on time travel and many volumes of several future histories. There Will Be Time combines time travel and future history and acknowledges Wells. Tau Zero describes space travel not to the Moon but into the next universe after ours. The War Of Two Worlds, with almost the same title as Wells' Martian invasion novel, also describes a Martian invasion of Earth.

Thus, not only alien invasion but specifically Martian invasion is a strong conceptual link between the three authors. Heinlein and Niven and Pournelle have alien invasions from other planets. As I said earlier, Anderson's "Soldier From The Stars" presents not a military but an economic conquest of Earth.

At the same time, Anderson's output of imaginative fiction is much vaster and significantly includes fantasies and historical novels that are neither Wellsian nor Stapledonian.

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