Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Fictional Histories And Poul Anderson
Future histories are one kind of fictional history. Others include:
JRR Tolkien's History of Middle Earth;
CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia;
Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain.
Not unrelated to the works of Tolkien, a Catholic, and Lewis, an Anglican, is the Bible, a multi-generational narrative comprising every kind of literature including:
theologically interpreted histories;
historical fictions (Ruth, Job and Jonah).
Also relevant is John Milton's theological trilogy:
With the passage of time, a future history becomes an alternative history. Also, an alternative historical series can become a fictional history. Thus, SM Stirling presents:
three novels about the gradual conquest of Earth by the Draka;
one novel about interstellar and inter-cosmic conflicts involving the Draka -
a trilogy about Nantucket translated to an alternative timeline;
a series about the Earth that Nantucket left behind.
Of the future history series that I have read, I think that Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is the most substantial and comprehensive. We should always remember the original model:
Heinlein's Future History
I A collection about technological advances, eventually including interplanetary travel.
II A collection about the colonization and exploitation of the Solar System.
III A novel about the revolutionary overthrow of an American theocracy and two stories about different aspects of the post-revolutionary society, including the resumption of space travel.
IV A novel about a crisis in the post-revolutionary society.
V Two stories about a lost interstellar ship mentioned in Vol IV.
Some other future histories can be summarized briefly:
Anderson's Psychotechnic History
Galactic civilization (query)
Anderson's Technic History
interplanetary and interstellar exploration
Solar Commonwealth and Polesotechnic League
Time of Troubles
civilizations in several spiral arms
a Galactic civilization
Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium Future History
the First and Second Empire of Man
James Blish's Cities In Flight
a novel about the discoveries necessary for interstellar travel
two volumes about Okie civilization
a novel about the post-Okie universe
Larry Niven's Known Space Future History
Too complicated to summarize briefly?