Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Comparative Chronologies

In an sf future history series, which comes first: the stories or the time chart/chronology? In the case of Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, Anderson has told us that, following Robert Heinlein's example, he compiled a time chart, then wrote several stories that fitted into that chart, whereas, in the case of his Technic History, the stories, originally two independent series, came first; the Chronology of Technic Civilization has been compiled later by Sandra Miesel.

When future historian Jerry Pournelle created the CoDominium History, he had the fine examples of Heinlein and Anderson to follow if he wanted to. Pournelle's Chronology begins by clearly showing when his CoDominium timeline diverges from ours:


1969  Neil Armstrong sets foot on Earth's Moon.
1990  Series of treaties between United States and
          Soviet Union creates the CoDominium.

The Chronology continues with an interstellar drive in 2008 and interstellar colonies in 2020. This CoDominium timeline displays some parallels with James Blish's Okies timeline which has Colonials leaving the Solar System in 2021 and a Proclamation of US-USSR unification in 2027.

My rereading of Poul Anderson's For Love And Glory has been interrupted by rereading Alan Moore's Watchmen, which in turn has been interrupted by rereading Larry Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's The Mote In God's Eye (London, 1979). These works in turn have generated posts on World Wars and Chronologies. Reading or rereading, even if chaotic, usually provides material for blogging. However, this lap top is rapidly declining so there may be further technical delays.

Niven and Pournelle begin what feels like a substantial novel set in an interstellar empire comparable to Anderson's Terran Empire. In the first full paragraph on p. 17, the omniscient narrator tells us what the Imperial forces find on entering New Chicago and also how the New Chicago revolt had affected the Empire. The second paragraph presents Sally Fowler's point of view: she felt the Marines' eyes on her. The third paragraph recounts word for word what one Marine guard thinks about Sally. The fourth paragraph reverts to Sally's point of view: she felt nothing. This page is a bit too disjointed pov-wise.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Perhaps the "disjointedness" you noticed in THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE came from the book being by two authors, rather than one. A collaborative work, even if as successful as MOTE, might still sometimes have a few rough spots.


Paul Shackley said...

Both of these authors know how to control pov in their own works.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Including the works co-written by Niven and Pournelle? I agree, the authors knew how to work together to make sure the POV we see in their joint books remained consistent. But I'm sure it must have taken a lot of debate!