April 26th, 2012, 06:28 PM
re: "Progress" by Poul Anderson
Progress, from: To Outlive Eterninty and Other Stories (Baen 2007)
(Originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1962)
I just read this story and liked it, but.... I don't know that I understood the last line of the story.
I won't give any details in this first post, to avoid spoiling it for those who have not read it.
If anyone has read this story, can you tell me what that last line meant? The way it is presented suggests to me that it is meant to be significant, and so probably not something that was mentioned at the start of the conversation in which it appears.
The only other interpretation that occurs to me seems to be contradicted by something earlier in the story...so I am at a loss.
I really like Anderson's stories and ideas, and am concerned I might be missing something here.
Thanks for any help.
April 26th, 2012, 10:05 PM
OMG. Poul got me started writing SF and became my mentor. Virgin Planet got me hooked. I shamefully admit that I haven't read much of Poul's stories, but plan to do so in the near future. I kept all my correspondence from Poul, and have stayed in touch with Greg Bear.
October 7th, 2012, 06:44 PM
The answer comes a few pages before, where Lorn makes a statement and Alisabeta answers.
"I wasn't sure about that. I thought from the way you handled yourselves--I figured you for special operatives."
"Oh, heavens, no. Intelligence had decided the truth was less likely to come out if the advance agents were a bona fide merchant crew, that had never been involved in such work before, and never would be again. We got some training for the job, but not much, really."
Unprepared merchants handle themselves as well as special operatives on a mission involving an entirely new technology never seen before on Earth. A nuclear apocalypse happened so long ago it is all but forgotten, destroying certain continents and shattering the world ecology. This is an optimistic story about humans who have adapted in a big way. What seems like a backward and repressive society is actually very effective at survival and at managing global politics to avoid another apocalypse. That is what the last line is about.
The stars are in auspicious alignment, the various significant moons are in the correct houses, and ambient psychic energies are in balance. All is well, and the universe is at peace.