The Final Encyclopedia

The Final Encyclopedia
I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook version of Gordon R. Dickson’s “The Childe Cycle,” recently, and I’m currently on “The Final Encyclopedia (TFE). It’s probably my favorite though it really is difficult to chose as every story in the Cycle has amazing characters and elements. That’s probably why I usually think of it as a complete set of works rather than individual books.

I’m not sure how old I was when I read my first book from this collection (probably around junior-high), but I know which one it was. It was “Dorsai!” Dorsai! is practically a pamphlet compared to TFE - 7 hours in audiobook compared to over 30 hours - but it’s the lynchpin of the set. The main character of Dorsai! is Donal Graeme and it’s also the story that introduces Kensie and Ian Graeme, his uncles, that for all the brevity of their appearances have a massive influence to the overall arc of the Cycle.

Lost Dorsai
I can’t begin to describe how influential these books have been to me, but one of the main things that’s been running through my mind is the concept of the Final Encyclopedia, itself. In the books it’s described as a futuristic repository of the sum of all human knowledge (as imagined in the early 80’s). A tool that would allow humanity to unlock it’s true creative potential.

In the main, I think Dickson was right. The Internet in its current form is essentially what he was describing the Final Encyclopedia to be; a tool that a scholar can use to bring whatever knowledge he or she doesn’t already have immediately to hand. And - despite what detractors would say - I think we’re using it to essentially accomplish what it was ultimately used for in the books; the further evolution of humanity.

This is an amazing time to be human.