WaltS Corner of the Web

WaltS Corner of the Web
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In Gordon R. Dickson's "future history" of humanity's physical and spiritual development, The Childe Cycle (“Cycle”) or as it is more commonly referred to, the Dorsai books, we see the development of the three Splinter Cultures, and the Others. The Friendlies were men and woman of enduring faith; the Exotics were philosophers and scientists who sought to know all there is to know; and The Dorsai, they were incomparable professional soldiers. The Others - Dahno and Bleys Ahrens interstellar organization.

Why did the three Splinter Cultures achieve what they did - because, each in their own way understood there were “no free rides.”  Yesterday’s accomplishments ALWAYS need be followed with the new accomplishments of today.

The name Childe Cycle is an allusion to "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came", a poem by Robert Browning, which provided considerable inspiration for elements in Dickson's magnum opus.

While, on the face of it, the Cycle is a science fiction series, it is also an allegory. In addition to the eight science fiction novels of the Cycle, Dickson had also planned three historical novels and three novels taking place in the present day. It is known that one of the three historical novels would have dealt with John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost. Judging from the frequent mentions of him in the published science fiction portion of the Cycle, Sir John Hawkwood, a 14th century mercenary, would probably have been the subject of another.

The Cycle stretches from the 14th century to the 24th century, and deals with the conflict between progress and conservatism. It also deals with which of humanity's traits are most important, namely, Courage, Faith, and the ability to think philosophically.

The Splinter Cultures

Following the events of Necromancer, humanity has colonized some 14 Younger Worlds. The inhabitants of these worlds have evolved culturally, and to some extent, genetically, into several specialized Splinter Cultures. This was done by the racial collective unconscious itself as an experiment to see what aspects of humanity are the most important. The inhabitants of Earth (now called Old Earth, since New Earth is one of the Younger Worlds) remain "full spectrum humans" as a control.

The interstellar economy is based on the exchange of specialists, which puts Old Earth, the jack of all trades, at something of a disadvantage.

Of all the Splinter Cultures, three are the most successful:

The Dorsai (Courage): The Dorsai, inhabitants of a Younger World also called the Dorsai, are honorable, elite mercenaries. The Cycle focuses mainly on their exploits, to the extent that the Cycle is also known as the “Dorsai series.”

The Exotics (Philosophy): The Exotics are the inhabitants of Mara and Kultis. They are pacifistic philosophers, the descendants of the 21st Century Chantry Guild. Dickson based the Exotics on Eastern Philosophy. The Exotics hire themselves out as psychiatrists, among other things.

The Friendlies (Faith/Fanaticism): The somewhat ironically named Friendlies inhabit the worlds of Harmony and Association. Friendlies can be true faith-holders, or they can be fanatics. The difference, according to the Cycle, is that true faith-holders are guided by their faith, while fanatics use their faith to justify their actions. The Friendly home worlds experience continual sectarian civil war. Like the Dorsai, the Friendlies earn interstellar credit as mercenaries, fighting in other people's wars. Unlike the Dorsai, Friendly mercenaries are drafted cannon-fodder, with largely green troops and high casualty rates. However, they are tenacious defenders. While the Friendlies are sometimes presented as villains, their faith is co-equal in importance to humanity with the Courage of the Dorsai and the Philosophy of the Exotics. Dickson based the Friendlies on the Puritans.

Other Splinter Cultures include the Hard Scientists of Newton and Venus, the Miners of Coby, the Fishermen of Dunnin's World, the Technocrats of Cassida, the Catholic farmers of St. Marie, and the merchants of Ceta.

The Books of the Cycle include:

  • Dorsai! (1959)

  • Necromancer (1960)

  • Soldier, Ask Not (1968)

  • Tactics of Mistake (1971)

  • Young Bleys (1991)

  • Other (1994)

  • The Final Encyclopedia (1984)

  • Chantry Guild (1988)

  • In addition, there are two books that take place in the same fictional universe as the Childe Cycle, but are not part of the greater allegory.

  • The Spirit of Dorsai (1979)

  • Lost Dorsai (1981)

  • Both of these books each contain two short works, and have a frame story. The frame story is a conversation between Hal Mayne and the Third Amanda Morgan, during the events of The Final Encyclopedia.

    By the chronology of the Cycle, the novels fall in the following order:

    1. Necromancer

    2. Tactics of Mistake

    3. Soldier, Ask Not

    4. Dorsai!

    5. Young Bleys

    6. Other

    7. The Final Encyclopedia

    8. Chantry Guild

     However, it has been suggested the best way to read them is in this order:

    1. Tactics of Mistake
    2. Soldier, Ask Not
    3. Dorsai!
    4. Necromancer
    5. Young Bleys
    6. Other
    7. The Final Encyclopedia
    8. Chantry Guild

    These novels, together with their internal dates and central characters, are:

    2093-2094 Necromancer Paul Formaine
    2184 Tactics of Mistake Cletus Grahame
    2270-2289 Soldier, Ask Not Tam Olyn
    2276-2289 Dorsai! Donal Grahame
    23xx-2359 Young Bleys Bleys Ahrens
    2359-23xx Other Bleys Ahrens
    2359-2366 The Final Encyclopedia Hal Mayne
    2366- ? Chantry Guild Hal Mayne

    Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childe_Cycle


    The source for the bulk of the information at left is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    A direct link to the source article can be found at the end of this page.






























































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