Saturday, 5 March 2016

Of Time And Stars

In Poul Anderson's Solar Commonwealth, there is a Polesotechnic League; in Jerry Pournelle's Second Empire of Man, there is an Imperial Traders Association - two interstellar merchants' organizations.

Anderson's Time Patrol has an exile planet whereas the Second Empire has a prison world. It makes sense that an interstellar organization would isolate prisoners on an entire planet.

The Patrol preserves a single timeline whereas the Second Empire preserves interstellar peace against the threat of renewed nuclear wars that would devastate planets. Thus, two defensive organizations.

We learn that the Patrol guards history not just against time criminals but also against temporal changes resulting from quantum fluctuations in space-time energy. However, the consequences of such fluctuations can be experienced only by time travelers. Thus, both the Patrol and the Empire are responses to consequences of technology.

The Commonwealth, the Empire and the Patrol perform the functions of a state, preserving social order, whereas League and ITA members organize economic activities. We know that there are inter-temporal traders in the Time Patrol timeline but are told less about them.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I remembered the Imperial Traders Association after you mentioned it, but not any details. Except that I think the ITA was too eager, at least at first, to trust the Moties (due to the hope of mutually profitable trade relations being developed with the aliens). Unfortunately, unlike Poul Anderson with the Polesotechnic League in the early part of his Technic Civilization stories, Pournelle never wrote any stories focusing on the ITA.

I'm rather surprised we see no mention in Anderson's works of his Terran Empire having an exile or prison planet for criminal convicts or political malcontents. Maybe planets where men could live without needing to carry around life support systems were thought too valuable to be used like that?