Monday, 29 February 2016

Merseians And Moties

Poul Anderson's Ensign Flandry is the opening volume of the Dominic Flandry series, a major part of Anderson's History of Technic Civilization. In Ensign Flandry, the title character is given a guided tour of the planet Merseia but must leave in a hurry. Merseian supremacism threatens the Terran Empire. The problem is ideological.

Larry Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's The Mote In God's Eye is the opening volume of the Moties diptych, a major part of Pournelle's CoDominium future history. In Mote..., crew members and passengers from the human spaceship, MacArthur, are given a guided tour of the planet Mote Prime but must leave in a hurry. The Motie breeding cycle threatens the Second Empire of Man. This problem is biological.

I appreciate two works simultaneously without implying that there is any textual one-to-one correspondence. Both series are Heinleinian future histories although with a structural difference. Whereas Anderson's Psychotechnic History and, I think, Pournelle's CoDominium History were consciously modeled on Robert Heinlein's Future History, the Technic History grew into a vaster Heinleinian template by the fusion of two originally independent series.

A future history comprises several successive periods, e.g., -

Heinlein: technological advances, interplanetary imperialism, the Prophets, the Covenant, the first mature culture;
Asimov: Robots, Empire, Foundation;
Cities In Flight: the Vegan Tyranny, the Earthman culture, the Web of Hercules, new universes;
The Seedling Stars: Port Authority; extrasolar colonies; a far future "Watershed";
Psychotechnic: UN, Solar Union, Stellar Union, Galactic civilization;
Technic: several periods, including Commonwealth (van Rijn) and Empire (Flandry);
Niven: interplanetary exploration; UN and Belt, Man-Kzin Wars, Known Space, the Thousand Worlds;
Pournelle: CoDominium, First Empire, Secession Wars, Second Empire.

(Blog readers will recognize Asimov's as another fused future history.)

James Blish and Poul Anderson also link the future to the past -

After Such Knowledge:
Roger Bacon, possibly inspired by a demon, invents scientific method;
demons manifest in the twentieth century;
a Jesuit biologist suspects demonic influence on an extrasolar planet in the twenty first century.

The Boat Of A Million Years:
immortals live through history into an indefinite future. 

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And we both agreed in finding Asimov's work to be, ultimately, unsatisfactory. One of those unsatisfactory points being how I did not find Asimov's attempted fusing of his Robots stories with the Foundation series convincing. He should have kept them separate.