Monday, 29 February 2016
Empires resonate with much past Terrestrial history. The word "empire" evokes a realm both vast and powerful - although also oppressive and militaristic. It seems both implausible and unimaginative as a future form of social organization.
Poul Anderson wrote well about interstellar empires, then moved on to other kinds of fictional futures. "The Star Plunderer" makes the founding of the Terran Empire by Manuel Argos seem plausible and the Dominic Flandry novels make interstellar Imperial administration seem credible.
Greg Bear wrote:
"...Rome has been much abused. Lay off Rome for a while. And give me no spaceships in feudal settings...unless, of course, you are Poul Anderson, but you are most likely not."
-Greg Bear, "Tomorrow Through The Past" IN SFWA Bulletin, Fall 1979, pp. 38-41 AT pp. 40-41.
I agree that Poul Anderson made even feudalism with spaceships work. I can accept Niven and Pournelle's Empire of Man as part of a literary tradition and as the setting for their First Contact novel but sf must move on, as Anderson did.