Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Collaborative Fiction

Science fiction is collaborative. James Blish said that sf writers practice what would be called plagiarism in any other genre. An author publishes a story with a new idea and a logical deduction from it. A second author publishes a story with an alternative consequence of the same idea. The second author is not condemned for plagiarizing the idea but commended for his new interpretation of it.

Thus, when Robert Heinlein had written about a "generation ship" (a slower than light multi-generation interstellar spaceship), then so did Poul Anderson, Brian Aldiss and Clifford Simak. Aldiss even said, in a conversation at Eastercon 1970, "I thought I could do it better!"

Much later, collaboration was institutionalized:

"The franchise universe lives!"
-Larry Niven, Man-Kzin Wars II (London, 1991), p. vii.

Now, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, SM Stirling and others were able not only to write about militaristic, carnivorous, feline aliens but also to call them kzinti. Anderson's Man-Kzin Wars stories are:

"Iron" (also here, here and here)
"Inconstant Star" (also here, here, here, here and here);
"Pele" (also here).

We have been following Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling as to some extent successors of Poul Anderson so we might be interested in rereading their co-written Man-Kzin Wars stories. Since the first of these, "The Children's Hour," is 171 pages long, I regard it as a novel.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I can think of at least one story, or part of a novel, from the works of Poul Anderson featuring STL generation ships or starships: "The Troblemakers" (found in COLD VICTORY) and Chapter XIX of THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS. I thought as well of the STL ship in THE ENEMY STARS, alto its crews only served fairly short stints, relieving each other from Earth via a matter transmitter. And, of course there's the Kith stories and STARFARERS, also featuring STL ships.