Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Stories In A Future History

There are two kinds of future history:

a future historical text book, e.g., Wells, Stapledon;
a future history series, e.g., Heinlein, Anderson.

There are two ways to create a future history series:

compile a time chart, then set stories within it;
write stories from which a fictional chronology emerges.

Heinlein invented and pioneered the first way. Anderson, of course, did it both ways. Thus, we have what I call a future history triad: the Future History; the Psychotechnic History; the Technic History. Heinlein's future history is the Future History just as Wells' time traveler is the Time Traveler. The Psychotechnic History is modeled on the Future History and has the same author as the Technic History. Rhysling from the Future History and van Rijn from the Technic History both visit Anderson's inter-universal inn, the Old Phoenix.

Whichever way a future history series is written, the reading public gets:

a sequence of stories to read;
a fictional chronology to contemplate and criticize. See here.

In the Technic History:

"The Season of Forgiveness" is a one-off story set within a particular period of the History - its background is the Polesotechnic League, introduced in "Margin of Profit," and its setting is the planet Ivanhoe, introduced in "The Three-Cornered Wheel";

"Margin of Profit," "The Three-Cornered Wheel" and "Tiger by the Tail" are each the introductory installment of a series about a particular character within the History;

"The Star Plunderer" is an individual story that advances the History by showing the transition from one period, the Troubles, to another, the Empire.

For discussion of different kinds of stories within a future history, see here and here.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I noted the flattering linking of my article about the Chronology of Technic Civilization. Thanks! I've been going thru my essay and then the chronology itself, and as SpeakNoEvil pointed out, there are still some problems with it. Such as the proper dating of SATAN'S WORLD and whether "Lodestar" should be dated a little earlier or later.

The dating for SATAN'S WORLD is by far the most difficult problem. If we go by what we see in MIRKHEIM the earlier story is set TOO FAR back in the past to be plausible. I have to regretfully conclude Poul Anderson made a mistake here and stay with the later date I proposed for SATAN'S WORLD.