Monday, 31 July 2017

Myth Meets Economics

SM Stirling, The Tears Of The Sun (New York, 2012) is an fsf mix so it is appropriate to discuss it on an sf blog. There are gods but they are scientifically rationalized. Mind, sometimes manifesting as gods, evolved in an earlier universe and now transforms new universes from their beginnings. (Norse gods originated in a precosmic void so the origin of Stirling's gods is legitimate.)

Let's look at history in our universe before we get into Stirling's fiction. Why were kings powerful?

Mythological answer: because they were descended from and appointed by gods.

Economic answer: because social labour had produced a surplus that maintained, and was controlled by, a ruling class.

My response: appreciate the mythology and understand the economics.

In Stirling's fiction:

high technology stopped working in the Change;
economies retrogressed to cannibal, tribal, feudal etc;
many populations have taken refuge in diverse mythologies;
and beings answering the descriptions of gods, saints and demons have become active both in the Change and in the subsequent course of events.

Now, in this context:

"The Destined Prince with the Magic Sword is wonderful, but less wonderful when he asks you to cough up every tenth bushel and piglet and takes out a mortgage on your farm." (Chapter Fifteen, p. 463)

Myth meets economics. A divinely appointed High King must raise taxes to wage expensive wars against demonolaters. Why can't the gods be more helpful by making him financially independent, e.g., with a secretly located, privately owned gold mine?

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Hanno, Lazarus Long And John Carter

Poul Anderson's Hanno is the oldest mutant immortal.

Robert Heinlein's Lazarus Long, the Senior, or oldest member of the human race, is a third generation Howard, bred for longevity, but also, coincidentally and inexplicably, a mutant who lives much longer than any other member of the Howard Families.

Edgar Rice Burrough's (ERB's) John Carter claims to remember only an extended adulthood without any childhood and to know nothing of his own origin even though he has a great-grand-nephew and must surely therefore also know his brother or sister and their parents? (ERB wrote glaring inconsistencies.) Carter died on Earth but was astrally projected to Mars where he still lives in a tangible undying body and speculated just once that maybe he is the materialization of a long dead warrior. Mysteries beyond mysteries. (SM Stirling, in his Martian novel, alludes to the cave near which Carter was astrally projected.)

Might Hanno and Long become like what Carter claims to be? Let me explain. Most people have lived for less than 100 years. Whatever age you have now reached, how much do you remember of your first two years? If you were to live for 1000 years, how much would you remember of your first 20 years? If you were to live for 1,000,000 years, how much would you remember of of your first 20,000 years? And so on. Hanno and his fellow immortals agree to meet again in another million years and expect to continue living after that.

Could there be an sf series as outlined below?

Vol I, set in One Billion AD: a man who seems to have lived forever remembers only the last ten millennia.

Vol II, set in Two Billion AD: a man who seems to have lived forever is by now known by a different name, has learned so much from experience that he has completely changed his personality and remembers only the last ten millennia.

Vol III, set in Three Billion AD...

Friday, 31 March 2017

Not Fanfic But

I cannot write fan fiction but can speculate about obscure potential sequels to existing texts:

What becomes of country roads in Cumbria after the fall of Poul Anderson's Terran Empire (see here)?

Might SM Stirling's Rangers and Tolkien's Elves meet in Anderson's Old Phoenix Inn between the universes (see here)?

What will become of Lancaster in James Blish's Okie History (see here)? (I do not think that it will go Okie.)

Might Ys have gone Okie if, instead of being inundated, it had survived into the Okie future history (see here)?

Might the Time Traveller, the Doctor and the Time Patrol interact (see here)?

Examples could be multiplied but I think that these five are sufficiently suggestive.