Saturday, 5 March 2016

Worlds Of War

(Sean M Brook's "Andersonian Themes and Tropes," which had remained on the top of our list for a week, is still with us here and can also be found on the companion blog here.)

(I have found confirmation that the Imperial Church in Jerry Pournelle's Second Empire of Man has not only a New Rome and Cardinals but also a Pope. There is a reference to "His Holiness" on p. 69 of King David's Spaceship (London, 1984).)

Poul Anderson writes extremely well, although not exclusively, about war. With some other writers, it is a more central theme. How can space travelers visit a planet where human beings wear armor and fight with swords? Quite easily. In King David's Spaceship -

Interstellar Secession Wars destroyed the Old Empire. In that Empire, Makassar had been a park world with few machines or power installations. The planet was bombarded, then isolated. Its few surviving former service workers were unable to build a sophisticated civilization. Native vegetation is inedible and Earth Stock crops require constant attention.

This determines a social structure:

barbarian raiders;
warriors to protect the cultivators;
military aristocrats unwilling to work in the fields and in any case fully occupied with fighting barbarians and each other;
constant warfare between barbarians, baronies and some cities.

A plausible rationale for continuing to write about warfare.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

My memories about previous readings of THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE might be at fault here, but I think the pope is also mentioned in that book. We also see a Cardinal being interviewed on a futuristic equivalent of TV about the theological issues raised by discovery of the Moties.

Yes, Poul Anderson could write very well about the problems and issues raised by or connected to war (I thought of "Kings Who Die"). Other writers I have read, such as Jerry Pournelle, Dave Drake, and S.M. Stirling, have focused more on war.

Conflict, strife, and war can arise for many reasons. One being two races being biochemically so much like each other that they desire the same kind of planets (humans and Merseians). Or two opposing systems of belief can be such a threat to each other that no long term peach or even truce is possible (which is what we see in Stirling's Draka books). Or simple, plain old human cussedeness is enough to bring about war. I could go on, but readers should understand my point!