Monday, 21 March 2016

Seeing Far

Who wrote this?

A time traveler visits the far future;
men traverse interplanetary space;
Martians invade Earth;
there will be wars and revolutions;
an alternative history unfolds on a parallel Earth.

I have just summarized five major sf works by HG Wells - and also by Poul Anderson.

Moving on from Wells:

Stapledon gave us cosmic sf;

Capek gave us robots;

de Camp gave us a time traveler changing history;

Heinlein gave us a future history series, a generation ship, science fictional treatment of immortality, juvenile sf, elaborate circular causality and magic as technology;

Asimov gave us robotics and a predictive science of society;

Anderson developed all of these themes.

The blog has entered territory where we are comparing future histories, including several by Anderson, and assessing collaborative future histories. Thus:

Niven created a future history series that includes a period of wars between men and kzinti;
Pournalle and Stirling wrote stories set in this period;
Anderson wrote sequels to Pournelle's and Stirling's Man-Kzin Wars stories.

We have come a long way from Wells' Martians invading Earth but are clearly in the same literary tradition. We find Anderson seeing far because he stands on the shoulders of:

de Camp
Stirling -

- and we have not yet mentioned Mary Shelley, creator of science fiction and of the Frankenstein theme developed further by Capek, Asimov and Anderson.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And of course Isaac Asimov's contribution to the science fictional treatment of robots sprang from him getting tired of how often early stories about robots has them turning on mankind. What Asimov called the Frankenstein complex. In protest he worked out the now famous Three Laws of Robots and wrote stories exploring the implications and consequences of those Three Laws.

I can see how Poul Anderson's use of AIs in the HARVEST OF STARS books and GENESIS are related to the Asimovian laws of robotics. Esp. the surprisingly gentle sophotects we see in the HARVEST series.