Originally published on Poul Anderson Appreciation, 14 June 2012.
common human-Holont language is established swiftly and surely because
the contemporary Holont have received a message from the future Holont
telling them that human beings would arrive and how they would try to
communicate: trans-temporal communication and circular causality
paradox. Unfortunately, we are told this but are not otherwise told very
much about what passes between the two kinds of beings.
It is suggested that thousands or millions
of years must pass before galactic civilization flowers as a result of
interactions between organic and holontic cultures. Meanwhile, human
beings, exploring, colonizing and trading in interstellar space, hope to
build holontic time communicators which, like James Blish's Dirac
transmitters, will not only receive messages from the future but will
also operate instantaneously in the present, making the universe one.
A sequel to Starfarers could have shown a utopia like that in Blish's "Beep" and The Quincunx Of Time,
where starfarers, receiving messages describing themselves preventing
disasters and presiding over a peaceful, expanding culture, then did
prevent disasters and preside over a peaceful, expanding culture: cosmic