Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Collaborative Enterprise

Sf is collaborative. American writers imitate Heinlein. One story asks a question:

Is a science of society possible?
Will robots replace human labor?
What will daily life in a technological future be like?
What are the psychological and social implications of physical immortality?
Can a multi-generation spaceship cross an interstellar distance?
Can a time traveler change the past?
Would feudalism with spaceships work?
Or is it just an entertaining story premise?
If magic worked, would it replace scientific technology?

- and other authors present different answers. Sf writers are not accused of plagiarism as long as their answers to familiar questions are new and interesting. Regular sf readers will recognize Heinleinian and Asimovian questions to which there are also Andersonian answers. I am currently focused on a Heinlein-Anderson-Stirling line of succession although there are of course many connections to other authors.

I envisage each author's short works eventually collected in one or more volumes. However, themed anthologies have also become a literary form. Poul Anderson contributed to many series created by other authors. Among SM Stirling's alternative history fictions:

Conquistador is a single novel;
the Angrezi Raj series is one novel and one story in a themed anthology;
the Lords of Creation series is two novels and one story in a themed anthology;
the Draka series is four novels written by Stirling and one anthology edited by Stirling.

Isaac Asimov's fictional canon is followed by a themed anthology containing one Robots story by Anderson. Anderson's canon is followed by a themed anthology containing one Time Patrol story by Stirling. Again, although there are others, I am currently focusing on the relationship between these two authors. Unfortunately, there is no Draka story by Anderson.

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