Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Another relevant author is CS Lewis whose unique brand of theological sf is polemically anti-Wellsian and anti-Stapledonian whereas Poul Anderson, although he addresses some theological issues, primarily continues and extends the tradition of Wells and Stapledon. (A full list of other writers compared with Anderson on the blog is here.)
Lewis inverts the interplanetary invasion idea. In his Trilogy, any extraterrestrial incursions are entirely benign. Planetary angels descend to empower the revived Merlinus Ambrosius who then inflicts demonically possessed scientists with the curse of Babel. An earlier benign incursion had been the birth of Maleldil as a hnau in Thulcandra - but I leave it to readers of the Trilogy to understand words in the Solar language. A space-faring scientist is the demonically possessed instrument of a literally diabolical assault on the Paradisal oceanic planet Venus. And here is another parallel because, in Anderson's "Sister Planet," an Earthman kills the peaceful inhabitants of an oceanic Venus.
Lewis' "The Dark Tower" is modeled on Wells' The Time Machine. Both works begin with a group of characters discussing the concept of time travel. On the basis of what I regard as a fallacious argument, Lewis' characters conclude that physical time travel is impossible. However, Lewis then introduces parallel Earths which tie in with Wells' Men Like Gods, with several works by Anderson and with major contributions by Harry Turtledove and SM Stirling.
Lewis did not write a future history but did ask: what kind of future do we want? In Wells' and Stapledon's future histories, mankind remakes itself with science. The concluding volume of Lewis' Trilogy expresses the antithetical view that any such project would in fact mean some men controlling others with science. Anderson mainly follows Wells and Stapledon by presenting anthropocentric futures although his character, Fr Axor, pursues a Lewisian program by seeking evidence for the Universal Incarnation. Anderson's later future histories go further by presenting Artificial Intelligences as displacing or even replacing mankind. I suspect that Lewis would have regarded AI as either impossible or diabolical.