Monday, 1 February 2016

"Men Make Their Own History..."

"Men make their own history but not in circumstances of their own choosing."

Whereas SM Stirling's John Rolfe accidentally opened a Gate to an alternative Earth where he founded the Commonwealth of New Virginia, Poul Anderson's Manuel Argos led a slave revolt and founded the Terran Empire. The Empire is incomparably vaster than the Commonwealth. However, this is because Rolfe was a World War II veteran whereas Argos was born in a later age of faster than light interstellar travel: "...not in circumstances of their own choosing."

Further, we are shown several centuries of the Empire but only two generations of the Commonwealth. How vast might the latter later become? At the end of Conquistador, the Commonwealth begins to expand not out into space but sideways onto a third alternative Earth. Since at least one of Argos' predecessors has already traveled between universes, there is the possibility, however remote, of a meeting between Commonwealth and Empire, maybe in a second Anderson-themed anthology? But, meanwhile, we have many already written works to read or reread.

Apparently, hypothetical crossovers are a regular fannish debating topic:

Batman and Captain America fight - who wins?;
the Federation of Star Trek and the Empire of Star Wars meet - which wins?;

(I have the uneasy feeling that this post has descended from the sublime to the center of a black hole.)


David Birr said...

Patrick Stewart was once asked which captain would win if they fought, Jean-Luc Picard or James T. Kirk. He took a third option instead, saying Picard and Kirk would TEAM UP to get rid of all competition and then "beam" themselves and the most attractive ladies present to a luxury suite.

The "Federation vs. Empire" is still a debate topic on some fanatic fora I don't visit, but about which I hear reports. Those reports CONFIRM me in my desire not to visit them.

Oh, and a crossover comic, set during World War II, DID once show Batman and Captain America, or rather their secret identities Bruce Wayne and Steve Rogers, get into a fight when each thought the other was a spy for the Nazis. There was no clear winner, because after a few minutes of perfectly stalemated combat, Batman REALIZED Rogers must be Captain America and therefore called a halt.

Paul Shackley said...

There was also a DC v. Marvel miniseries where Bats fought Cap and the readers voted on the outcome.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I like VERY much the idea of people from Stirling's the Commonwealth of New Virginia and Anderson's Terran Empire possibly meeting in the Earth of an alternate universe. And I would very much like to see another Poul Anderson themed anthology.

While I agree we see the Commonwealth expanding in CONQUISTADOR, it should be kept in mind that John Rolf VI preferred the expansion to happen gradually, and not in the rapid and nakedly aggressive manner desired by Salvatore Colletta and his son Giovanni. Whether Rolfe wanted it or not, the Commonwealth INEVITABLY affected the Earth he had discovered, but he preferred to go slow.