Poul Anderson at 90

Poul_AndersonPoul Anderson was born on this date, November 25, in 1926.  He passed away in 2001.  It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone that long.

Anderson was best known for his science fiction, but he was also an accomplished fantasy author.  I debated whether to post this tribute over at Futures Past and Present, but decided to go with the main blog.

It’s hard to go wrong with Anderson.  I grew up reading his future history and from there branched out to his other works.  In more recent years, I’ve read mostly his fantasy.

Unfortunately I’ve not read much of his work in recent years.  Too many other things demanding my attention.  The last thing I read by him was The Broken Sword.  It had been part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and I had been intending the review to be my next post in my look at that line for Black Gate.  Life got in the way, and I had to let some things drop.  The BAF series of posts was one of them.  Enough time has passed that I would need to reread the book before I reviewed it.  Too many details have faded.  Another project for a different day.

If you’ve not read Anderson, or not read much of his work, or not read him in a while (this would be me), do yourself a favor and check him out.  He was one of the giants of the field, and it’s a shame that he may be forgotten by the younger generation.  Much of his work is available in inexpensive ebook editions.  NESFA Press has a series of his collected short fiction available in hardcover (in case anyone was wondering what to get me for Christmas).

10 thoughts on “Poul Anderson at 90

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks for the link. I’ve read most of the authors in Appendix N, although not necessarily the works listed.

  1. Fletcher Vredenburgh

    I first came to Anderson thru the Polesotechnic League books (thanks, Dad!), and became an obsessive fan for a while. I haven’t read any of his sci-fi in years. I need to reread The Broken Sword and Three Hearts.

    When I reread Hrolf Kraki’s Saga (and reviewed at Black Gate https://www.blackgate.com/2013/12/03/the-whole-northern-thing-hrolf-krakis-saga-by-poul-anderson/), it was even rougher and tougher than I remembered it being. Man, could Anderson bring on the Northern thing in all its doom-laden, ill-fated gloriousness. Yeah, grimdark’s only impressive to folks who really haven’t read much.

    1. Keith West Post author

      I read a short story or two by Anderson in middle school in one of the Robert Silverberg anthologies the school library had, but they didn’t do much for me. I think it was the stories in the Hugo Winners anthologies that pointed me in the direction of the Polesotechnic League, plus some of the ones in Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF anthologies. The Polesotechnic League was where he really caught my interest. That was around my senior year of high school and freshman year of college.

      I’ve not read Three Hearts of Hrolf Kraki yet. They are on the radar, though.

  2. deuce

    Good to see you’re remembering Poul, Keith! I did the same thing 7yrs ago:

    These last couple of years, I’ve probably read/reread about 60-70% of Poul’s output. That has cemented his place in my Top 10 pantheon. The man was just damn good. Plus, he recognized the cyclical nature of civilizations and how hard they are to maintain over time. To top it all off, he wrote a story about a Danish spacer who built a rocket propelled by beer kegs!

    1. Keith West Post author

      Thanks for the link, Deuce. I missed that post. I think I started reading the Cimmerian blog a few months after you wrote it.

      Anderson was one of the best of a generation of writers who could write across genres ranging from science fiction to fantasy and throw in some mystery or horror. Other examples are Fritz Leiber, C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner (individually and collaboratively), and Jack Vance. I don’t see anyone today with that versatility and range, at least not in traditional publishing. James Reasoner and a few others come close. I have to wonder if writing for the pulps, and by extension at shorter lengths, had a natural selection effect that forced them to diversify to survive.

      BTW, I looked at the novella that became Tau Zero after I wrote this post. http://adventuresfantastic.com/futurespastandpresent/a-look-at-poul-andersons-to-outlive-eternity/

  3. Manly Reading

    I just read The Merman’s Children – its very much a “faerie tale” with some splendid S&S (the rain on a Kraken’s lair in lost Atlantis is superb) alongside a lot more introspective stuff.

    The man could really write.


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