Thursday, 24 March 2016

Future History Building

"'The humans must have either great luck, or more knowledge than is good...'" (Man-Kzin Wars III, p. 60)

"Was General Early a military genius, or incredibly lucky?" (Man-Kzin Wars V, p. 15)

Twice, Jerry Pournelle and SM Stirling mention luck. Later in Larry Niven's Known Space History, the Puppeteers, theorizing that luck is a psychic power, successfully breed human beings for luck by influencing the UN to establish a Birthright Lottery. Although human acquisition of the hyperdrive just in time to defeat the kzinti looks like very good luck, it was in fact arranged by the Puppeteers as part of their project to breed tamer kzinti. (Of course, it was lucky for humanity that Puppeteers existed and interacted with kzinti in just this way. Also, the kzinti attack was lucky because it saved humanity from stagnation.)

The Thrintun's three-armed slave technicians remind us of Niven's and Pournelle's three-armed Moties while the Jotoki, even more versatile, have five arms. (I would never have thought of giving aliens an uneven number of limbs.)

Harold's Terran Bar is an excellent invention. The characters who meet there even include one unemployed veteran and two defeated kzinti who then seek work together. The Bar, invented (I think) by Pournelle & Stirling, is also visited by Poul Anderson's characters. It will be illuminating to trace the connections between Pournelle's & Stirling's and Anderson's contributions to Niven's future history. We have come a long way from a single author writing a single novel comprising an entire future history.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I too thought four or six limbs more convenient and logical than races like the Moties, Thrintum slave technicians, or Jotoki having and odd number of limbs. And the Jotoki were once the employers of the Kzinti, whom they had hired to be their mercenaries.