Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Mankind In Spacetime And The Universe

HG Wells describes:

the experiences of space traveling and time traveling;

the far future of mankind and Earth;

Selenites in their environment;

Martians invading our environment;

political and military conflicts;

in one future, the transcendence of social problems and the emancipation of humanity but, in an alternative future, devolution into Morlocks and Eloi.

Poul Anderson describes:

many experiences in space;

the experience of time traveling;

the far future of AI on Earth and in the galaxy;

political and military conflicts on Earth and between interstellar empires;

imaginative alien life forms, e.g., in the Terran Empire.

Too much emphasis just on political and military conflicts is not really sf - maybe? Characters in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium future history have such conflicts on Earth - and export them to space. Nuclear exchanges on a single planet are suicidal so let's have them between planets instead? Some people will draw the lesson that they need to build a society free of such conflicts and will use the Alderson drive to travel far enough away that they can make a fresh start without Imperial interference, like the McCormac rebels in Anderson's Technic History.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Commenting on your last paragraph. I can see your point about how SF writers may focus too much on political and military conflict. But, I have to disagree because the seeds or origins of such conflicts lies within MAN himself. So, no matter how far emigrants may go in an interstellar future, the potential for conflict remains.

And the McCormac rebels we see in Anderson's THE REBEL WORLDS were not exactly conflict free themselves. They had waged a pretty "conflict" trying to unsuccessfully take over the Terran Empire.

One point I would like to make about Anderson's "Starfog" is that I don't think ALL the McCormac eventually ended up on Kirkasant. The story mentions that the wreck of only ONE ship was known by these colonists. One character even wondered if their ancestors were not exactly "reputable" persons.

All of this leads me to think Kirkasant was founded by McCormac rebels in only one ship which had either gotten lost or split away on its own. Or perhaps they had a "conflict" with the rest of McCormac's fleet?

I don't believe ANY human society will be free of conflict.


David Birr said...

Paul and Sean:
As Jerry Pournelle said in his Introduction to the first of David Drake's *Hammer's Slammers* collections, "if five thousand years of recorded history have given us no formula for controlling violence and greed, we would be fortunate indeed if this generation has indeed fought the war to end all wars; if the armies that exist today were the last this planet will ever see."

Later in the same book, an essay by Drake explains that one of the background elements is the "Church of the Lord's Universe," a Christian sect focused on the idea that spreading to other planets would give humanity room to live in peace. "It was a naive doctrine, of course. Neither the stars nor anything else brought peace to Man...."

In summary, I agree with Sean's first paragraph, and so did Pournelle and Drake. Humans WILL fight each other. If they ever reach the point where NO humans ANYWHERE have any urge to fight, they'll be so different from us as to be incomprehensible.

(They'll also, as Heinlein remarked in *Starship Troopers*, soon be wiped out or enslaved by aliens who're still a fighting species.)

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Many thanks for commenting! As an Army veteran I can tell you have no illusions about how prone we fallen humans are to war and conflict. I've read some of David Drake's "Hammmer's Slammers" stories, so I might have the collection with Pournelle's introduction.

This blog focuses on Poul Anderson, so it's only right for me to quote some of what he said about war and conflict. The text quoted next came from Anderson's Foreword to his collection SEVEN CONQUESTS (The Macmillan Company, undated):

Our subject is human conflict leading to
institutionalized violence. The keyword is
"institutionalized." Societies have gene-
rally found ways to keep murder, battery,
rape, and riot within some bounds. When
they fail to do so, throughout history, it
has been a symptom of their breakdown; they
are soon replaced by new systems or whole
new cultures virile enough to guarantee the
ordinary peaceful person a measure of secur-
ity in his daily life. But no government thus
far has established a similar protection
against war: for this is a proceeding of
society itself.

The prayers, prophecies, denunciations, pleas,
studies, conferences, and political maneuver-
ings of several thousand years have not done
away with war. Our generation is unlikely to
get further with its noisy peace parades and
its mealy mouthed observances of United Nations
Day. The violence of the state remains legiti-
matized, and often glorified, because it serves
the ends of the state. And these ends are not
always evil; ask anyone whom Allied forces
liberated from Nazi concentration camps. Such
considerations demonstrate the fallacy of

And I certainly agree with Heinlein's comment that if mankind ever fails to provide for its own defense, another race just as bellicose will wipe us out!