Re: BOOKS: Dropping the Attanasio meme

David Blenkinsop (
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 23:33:40 -0600

Jean-Francois Virey wrote:

>BTW, when I characterized "Inherit the Stars" as one of the worst novels on
>the Extropian reading list, I meant "Voyage to Yesteryear", which I found
>unreadable and totally devoid of dramatic interest. "Inherit the Stars", on
>the other hand, though not great literature, is a very pleasant mystery novel
>on the scale of a planetary system.

I read "Voyage to Yesteryear", not long ago, and I'd agree that there's a problem with it, though perhaps not quite as bad a problem, for an sf novel, as the above comment might indicate. In the novel there's this starship from Earth bringing a whole township full of very officious Euroamerican beauracrats, all the way across light years of space to meddle in the affairs of a well established colony of an Alpha Centauran planet. Right off, it's a setup for the original settlers to stand up for their own goals, some kind of fun possiblities, there, perhaps. At the same time, the problems and political shenagans of the would-be takeover artists seem reasonably dramatic and familiar enough, it's the whole idea of colonialism all over again.

The problem with the novel is that the totally moneyless, robot driven society of the Centaurans seems just plain unbelievable, no matter what Hogan has his characters say about "no need to work for money, now we have robots, now we have nuclear energy, we were raised by a tribe of robots, we're free of the past", etcetera. For instance, the Centauran director of a power station/research institute is said to hold her position *purely* by acclamation from her coworkers, no question of needing to be appointed by funds providers, no question of coworkers causing strife by nominating lots of different people for the job, in competition with one another? In the discussion that takes place when the better natured colonialists and Centaurans begin to mingle, it is actually said that real disagreement can't happen, because the more unreasonable parties would be shot! It's as though every institution would have to be run by a tremendously influential or charismatic cult leader, there'd be no other basis for allocating resources in that situation. As a fabled sf Utopia, it's not too bad, but if it were real life -- brrr!

David Blenkinsop <>