Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American science fiction author who began his career in the 1940s and continued to write into the 21st century. Anderson authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and short stories. His awards include seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards.
Anderson at Polcon in 1985
|Born||Poul William Anderson|
November 25, 1926
Bristol, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||July 31, 2001 (aged 74)|
Orinda, California, United States
|Pen name||A. A. Craig|
Winston P. Sanders
P. A. Kingsley
|Genre||Science fiction, fantasy, time travel, mystery, historical fiction|
Poul Anderson was born on November 25, 1926, in Bristol, Pennsylvania, of Scandinavian parents. Shortly after his birth, his father, Anton Anderson, an engineer, moved the family to Texas, where they lived for over ten years. Following Anton Anderson's death, his widow took her children to Denmark. The family returned to the United States after the outbreak of World War II, settling eventually on a Minnesota farm. The frame story of his later novel Three Hearts and Three Lions, before the fantasy part begins, is partly set in the Denmark which the young Anderson personally experienced.
While he was an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Anderson's first stories were published by John W. Campbell in Astounding Science Fiction: "Tomorrow's Children" by Anderson and F. N. Waldrop in March 1947 and a sequel, "Chain of Logic" by Anderson alone, in July.[a] He earned his B.A. in physics with honors but made no serious attempt to work as a physicist; instead he became a free-lance writer after his graduation in 1948—and placed his third story in the December Astounding.
Anderson married Karen Kruse in 1953 and moved with her to the San Francisco Bay area. Their daughter Astrid (now married to science fiction author Greg Bear) was born in 1954. They made their home in Orinda, California. Over the years Poul gave many readings at The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore in Berkeley, and his wife later donated his typewriter and desk to the store.
In 1965 Algis Budrys said that Anderson "has for some time been science fiction's best storyteller". He was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in 1966 and of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), also in the mid-1960s. The latter was a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors led by Lin Carter, originally eight in number, with entry by credentials as a fantasy writer alone. Anderson was the sixth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, taking office in 1972.
Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his 1985 novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls to Anderson and eight of the other members of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy. The Science Fiction Writers of America made Anderson its 16th SFWA Grand Master in 1998 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted him in 2000, its fifth class of two deceased and two living writers. He died of cancer on July 31, 2001, after a month in the hospital. A few of his novels were first published posthumously.
Anderson is probably best known for adventure stories in which larger-than-life characters succeed gleefully or fail heroically. His characters were nonetheless thoughtful, often introspective, and well developed. His plot lines frequently involved the application of social and political issues in a speculative manner appropriate to the science fiction genre. He also wrote some quieter works, generally of shorter length, which appeared more often during the latter part of his career.
Much of his science fiction is thoroughly grounded in science (with the addition of unscientific but standard speculations such as faster-than-light travel). A specialty was imagining scientifically plausible non-Earthlike planets. Perhaps the best known was the planet of The Man Who Counts; Anderson adjusted its size and composition so that humans could live in the open air but flying intelligent aliens could evolve, and he explored consequences of these adjustments.
In many stories, Anderson commented on society and politics. Whatever other vicissitudes his views went through, he firmly retained his belief in the direct and inextricable connection between human liberty and expansion into space, for which reason he strongly cried out against any idea of space exploration being "a waste of money" or "unnecessary luxury".
The connection between space flight and freedom is clearly (as is stated explicitly in some of the stories) an extension of the nineteenth-century American concept of the Frontier, where malcontents can advance further and claim some new land, and pioneers either bring life to barren asteroids (as in Tales of the Flying Mountains) or settle on Earth-like planets teeming with life, but not intelligent forms (such as New Europe in Star Fox).
As he repeatedly expressed in his nonfiction essays, Anderson firmly held that going into space was not an unnecessary luxury but an existential need, and that abandoning space would doom humanity to "a society of brigands ruling over peasants".
This is graphically expressed in the chilling short story "Welcome". In it, humanity has abandoned space and is left with an overcrowded Earth where a small elite not only treats all the rest as chattel slaves, but also regularly practices cannibalism, their chefs preparing "roast suckling coolie" for their banquets.
Conversely, in the bleak Orwellian world of "The High Ones" where the Soviets have won the Third World War and gained control of the whole of Earth, the dissidents still have some hope, precisely because space flight has not been abandoned. By the end of the story, rebels have established themselves at another stellar system—where their descendants, the reader is told, would eventually build a liberating fleet and set out back to Earth.
While horrified by the prospect of the Soviets winning complete rule over the Earth, Anderson was not enthusiastic about having Americans in that role either. Several stories and books describing the aftermath of a total American victory in another world war, such as "Sam Hall" and its loose sequel "Three Worlds to Conquer" as well as "Shield", are scarcely less bleak than the above-mentioned depictions of a Soviet victory. Like Heinlein in "Solution Unsatisfactory", Anderson assumed that the imposition of an American military rule over the rest of the world would necessarily entail the destruction of American democracy and the imposition of a harsh tyrannical rule over the United States' own citizens.
Both Anderson's depiction of a Soviet-dominated world and that of an American-dominated one mention a rebellion breaking out in Brazil in the early 21st century, which is in both cases brutally put down by the dominant world power—the Brazilian rebels being characterized as "counter-revolutionaries" in the one case and as "communists" in the other.
In the early years of the Cold War—when he had been, as described by his later, more conservative self, a "flaming liberal"—Anderson pinned his hopes on the United Nations developing into a true world government. This is especially manifest in "Un-man", a future thriller where the Good Guys are agents of the UN Secretary General working to establish a world government while the Bad Guys are nationalists (especially American nationalists) who seek to preserve their respective nations' sovereignty at all costs. (The title has a double meaning: the hero is literally a UN man and has superhuman abilities which make his enemies fear him as an "un-man").
Anderson and his wife were among those who in 1968 signed a pro-Vietnam War advertisement in Galaxy Science Fiction. By then Anderson had repudiated world government; a half-humorous remnant is the beginning of Tau Zero: a future where the nations of the world entrusted Sweden with overseeing disarmament and found themselves living under the rule of the Swedish Empire. In The Star Fox, he unfavorably depicts a future peace group called "World Militants for Peace". A more explicit expression of the same appears in the later The Shield of Time where a time-traveling young American woman from the 1990s pays a brief visit to a university campus of the 1960s and is not enthusiastic about what she sees there.
Anderson often returned to right-libertarianism and to the business leader as hero, most notably his character Nicholas van Rijn. Van Rijn is different from the archetype of a modern type of business executive, being more reflective of a Dutch Golden Age merchant of the 17th century. If he spends any time in boardrooms or plotting corporate takeovers, the reader remains ignorant of it, since nearly all his appearances are in the wilds of a space frontier.
Beginning in the 1970s, Anderson's historically grounded works were influenced by the theories of the historian John K. Hord, who argued that all empires follow the same broad cyclical pattern, into which the Terran Empire of the Dominic Flandry spy stories fit neatly.
The writer Sandra Miesel (1978) has argued that Anderson's overarching theme is the struggle against entropy and the heat death of the universe, a condition of perfect uniformity where nothing can happen.
In his numerous books and stories depicting conflict in science-fictional or fantasy settings, Anderson takes trouble to make both sides' points of view comprehensible. Even where there can be no doubt as to whose side the author is on, the antagonists are usually not depicted as villains but as honourable on their own terms. The reader is given access to their thoughts and feelings, and they often have a tragic dignity in defeat. Typical examples are The Winter of the World and The People of the Wind.
A common theme in Anderson's works, and one with obvious origins in the Northern European legends, is that doing the "right" (wisest) thing often involves performing actions that, at face value, seem dishonorable, illegal, destructive, or downright evil. The Man who Counts, Nicholas van Rijn is "The Man" because he is prepared to be tyrannical and callously manipulative so that he and his companions can survive. In "High Treason" the protagonist disobeys orders and betrays his subordinates to prevent a war crime that would bring severe retribution upon Humanity. In A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows, Dominic Flandry first (effectively) lobotomizes his own son and then bombards the home planet of the Chereionite race in order to do his duty and prop up the Terran Empire. These actions affect their characters in different ways, and dealing with the repercussions of having done the "right" (but unpleasant) thing is often the major focus of his short stories. The general lesson seems to be that guilt is the penalty for action.
In The Star Fox, a relationship of grudging respect is built up between the hero, space privateer Gunnar Heim, and his enemy Cynbe, an exceptionally gifted Alerione trained from a young age to understand his species' human enemies to the point of being alienated from his own kind. In the final scene, Cynbe challenges Heim to a space battle which only one of them would survive. Heim accepts, whereupon Cynbe says, "I thank you, my brother."
Anderson set much of his work in the past, often with the addition of magic, or in alternate or future worlds that resemble past eras. A specialty was his ancestral Scandinavia, as in his novel versions of the legends of Hrólf Kraki (Hrolf Kraki's Saga) and Haddingus (The War of the Gods). Frequently he presented such worlds as superior to the dull, over-civilized present. Notable depictions of this superiority are the prehistoric world of The Long Remembering, the quasi-medieval society of No Truce with Kings, and the untamed Jupiter of "Call Me Joe" and Three Worlds to Conquer. He handled the lure and power of atavism satirically in Pact, critically in "The Queen of Air and Darkness" and "The Night Face", and tragically in "Goat Song".
His 1965 novel The Corridors of Time alternates between the European Stone Age and a repressive future. In this vision of tomorrow, almost everyone is either an agricultural serf or an industrial slave, but the rulers genuinely believe they are creating a better world. Set largely in Denmark, it treats the Neolithic society with knowledge and respect while not hiding its own faults. It is there that the protagonist, having access to literally all periods of the past and future, finally decides to settle down and finds a happy and satisfying life.
In many stories, a representative of a technologically advanced society underestimates "primitives" and pays a high price for it. In The High Crusade, aliens who land in medieval England in the expectation of an easy conquest find that they are not immune to swords and arrows. In "The Only Game in Town", a Mongol warrior, while not knowing that the two "magicians" he meets are time travelers from the future, correctly guesses their intentions—and captures them with the help of the "magic" flashlight they had given him in an attempt to impress him. In another time-travel tale, The Shield of Time, a "time policeman" from the Twentieth Century, equipped with information and technologies from much further in the future, is outwitted by a medieval knight and barely escapes with his life. Yet another story, "The Man Who Came Early", features a 20th-century United States Army soldier stationed in Iceland who is transported to the tenth century. Although he is full of ideas, his lack of practical knowledge of how to implement them and his total unfamiliarity with the technology and customs of the period lead to his downfall.
Anderson wrote the short essay "Uncleftish Beholding", an introduction to atomic theory, using only Germanic-rooted words. Fitting his love for olden years, this kind of learned writing has been named Ander-Saxon after him.
The story told in The Shield of Time is also an example of a tragic conflict, another common theme in Anderson's writing. The knight tries to do his best in terms of his own society and time, but his actions might bring about a horrible Twentieth Century (even more horrible than the one we know). Therefore, the Time Patrol protagonists, who like the young knight and wish him well (the female protagonist comes close to falling in love with him), have no choice but to fight and ultimately kill him.
In "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" a time-travelling American anthropologist is assigned to study the culture of an ancient Gothic tribe by regular visits every few decades. Gradually he is drawn into close involvement, feeling protective towards the Goths (many of them his own descendants, following a brief and poignant liaison with a Gothic girl who died in childbirth), and they identify him as the god Odin/Wodan. Then he finds that he must cruelly betray his beloved Goths, since a ballad says that Odin did so; failure to fulfill his prescribed role might change history and bring the whole of the Twentieth Century as we know it crashing down. In the final scene he cries out in anguish: "Not even the gods can defy the Norns!"—giving a new twist to this central aspect of the Norse religion.
In "The Pirate", the hero is duty-bound to deny a band of people from societies blighted by poverty the chance for a new start on a new planet, because their settling the planet would eradicate the remnants of the artistic and articulate beings who lived there before. A similar theme but with much higher stakes appears in Sister Planet: although terraforming Venus would provide new hope to starving people on the overcrowded Earth, it would exterminate Venus's just-discovered intelligent race, and the hero can avert that genocide only by murdering his best friends.
In "Delenda Est" the stakes are the highest imaginable. Time-travelling outlaws have created a new 20th Century—"not better or worse, just completely different". The hero can fight the outlaws and restore his (and our) familiar history, but only at the price of totally destroying the world which has taken its place. "Risking your neck in order to negate a world full of people like yourself" is how the hero describes what he eventually undertakes.
In the opening of S.M. Stirling's novel In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, a group of science fiction authors, including Poul Anderson, watch first contact with the book's Martians while attending an SF convention. Poul supplies the beer.
A Midsummer Tempest is a 1974 alternative history fantasy novel by Poul Anderson. In 1975, it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the Mythopoeic Award.Conan the Rebel
Conan the Rebel is a fantasy novel written by Poul Anderson featuring Robert E. Howard's sword and sorcery hero Conan the Barbarian. It was first published in paperback by Bantam Books in July 1980. It was reprinted once by Bantam (1981) and twice by Ace Books (1988, 1991). The first hardcover edition was published by Tor Books in 2001; a trade paperback followed from the same publisher in 2003. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in 1988.Goat Song (novelette)
"Goat Song" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Poul Anderson. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction issue of February 1972, it was later included in the anthologies Nebula Award Stories Eight and The Hugo Winners Volume 3.This story has strong parallels to the Greek myth of Orpheus and EurydiceKith (Poul Anderson)
The Kith are a starfaring culture featured in a number of science fiction stories by American writers Poul Anderson. They are:
"The Horn of Time the Hunter" (also known as "Homo Aquaticus", 1963)
The novel Starfarers (1998) - John W. Campbell Memorial Award nominee, 1999The Kith develop out of early interstellar explorers in the 21st and 22nd centuries. Because of the effects of time dilation associated with travel at near-light speeds, the Kith maintain separate settlements ("Kithtowns") in which care was taken to keep their language and culture consistent over the course of millennia. As Kith usually marry among themselves, they seek to avoid in-breeding by a strict exogamy; Kith must find their mates in a ship other their own, marriage between crew members of the same ship being considered a kind of incest.
Inevitably, Kith come to regard planet-bound cultures with aloof detachment, as an individual Kith may witness in his or her lifetime the passage of hundreds of years, the rise and fall of empires which can only seem ephemeral. To the ground-dwellers such attitudes come to seem superior and arrogant, and the Kith's apparent near-immortality arouses envy. Although the Kith are instrumental in maintaining the network of trade that makes human interstellar civilization possible, over time they become the object of derision, suspicion and ultimately persecution.
As set forth in Starfarers and "Ghetto", the Kithtowns ultimately become ghettos, and pogroms are launched against the Kith. "The Horn of Time the Hunter" suggests that the Kith are ultimately forced to flee human space altogether, and chronicles the return of one group of Kith to human space after hundreds of thousands of years' relativistic travel to the Galactic core.Memory (Poul Anderson)
Memory (first title A World Called Maanerek) is a science fiction narration by Poul Anderson, first published in 1957.Poul Anderson bibliography
The following is a list of works by science fiction and fantasy author Poul Anderson.
See also Category:Works by Poul AndersonQuest (Anderson novelette)
"Quest" is a science fiction novelette by American writer Poul Anderson, about the consequences of an extraterrestrial scoutship landing in Medieval England. It is a sequel to Anderson's 1960 novel The High Crusade. Poul Anderson described the original as "one of the most popular things I've ever done, going through many book editions in several languages." "Quest", originally appeared in Ares magazine in the same issue that saw the original publication of The High Crusade wargame. The novelette was included in two collections of Anderson's short work, Space Folk and Going for Infinity, before being added to the Baen Books fiftieth anniversary edition of The High Crusade.Sam Hall (story)
"Sam Hall" is a 1953 science fiction novelette by Poul Anderson. It was first published in Astounding Science Fiction, in August 1953.The Best of Poul Anderson
The Best of Poul Anderson is a collection of writings by American science fiction and fantasy author Poul Anderson, first published in paperback by Pocket Books in August 1976. It was reprinted in August 1979. The pieces were originally published between 1953 and 1970 in the magazines Astounding Science Fiction, Analog, Galaxy Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the anthology The Farthest Reaches.
The book contains nine novellas, novelettes and short stories, together with an introduction by fellow science fiction writer Barry N. Malzberg and a second, general introduction and introductory notes on the individual stories by the author.The Corridors of Time
The Corridors of Time is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson, first published in 1966 as a serial in Amazing Stories, May–June 1965 and as a book by Doubleday.The High Crusade
The High Crusade is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson, about the consequences of an extraterrestrial scoutship landing in Medieval England. Poul Anderson described the novel as "one of the most popular things I've ever done, going through many book editions in several languages."The High Crusade was originally serialized in the July–August–September 1960 issues of Astounding.
First published in book form in 1960 by Doubleday, it has been published in (at least) June 1964 and September 1968 (by Macfadden Books), 1983, 1991 (by the SFBC and again by Baen Books), 2003, and most recently in 2010. It is in print with a paperback edition issued by Baen Books in 2010 with ISBN 978-1-4391-3377-4. Anderson's work was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1961, and was adapted into a 1983 wargame of the same name by TSR, Inc. and into a motion picture of the same name in 1994. Poul Anderson wrote one sequel short story, "Quest", which originally appeared in Ares magazine in the same issue that saw the original publication of the wargame.The Longest Voyage
"The Longest Voyage" is a science fiction short story by American writer Poul Anderson. It won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1961.The Many Worlds of Poul Anderson
The Many Worlds of Poul Anderson is a collection of science fiction short stories by American writer Poul Anderson, edited by Roger Elwood, first published in hardcover by Chilton in June 1974. A paperback edition retitled The Book of Poul Anderson followed from DAW Books in June 1975, and was reprinted in June 1978, December 1978, and October 1983. Most of the pieces were originally published between 1947 and 1971 in the magazines Astounding Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, Riverside Quarterly, and Other Worlds Science Stories. The others are original to the collection.The book contains eight short fictions and essays by Anderson and others, two of them co-authored, together with an introduction by the editor.The People of the Wind
The People of the Wind is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson, first published in 1973. It was a 1974 nominee of the Nebula Award for Science Fiction. The novel is the last book in Anderson’s Polesotechnic League series. However, since the setting of the book is many generations after the series' two main characters, Nicholas van Rijn and David Falkayn, and many generations before Anderson's follow-up series, the Terran Empire; it is more proper to consider this book a bridge between the two series.The Queen of Air and Darkness (novella)
"The Queen of Air and Darkness" is a science fiction novella by American writer Poul Anderson, set in his History of Rustum fictional universe. It won the Hugo Award for Best Novella and the Locus Award for Best Short Story in 1972, and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 1971.The Saturn Game
"The Saturn Game" is a science fiction novella by American writer Poul Anderson.The Sharing of Flesh
"The Sharing of Flesh" (also published as "The Dipteroid Phenomenon") is a science fiction novelette by American writer Poul Anderson. Originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction (December 1968), it won a 1968 Hugo Award for Best Novelette and was nominated for a 1969 Nebula Award. The story has appeared in the collections The Night Face & Other Stories (1979), The Dark Between the Stars (1981), Winners (1981), and The Long Night (1983).The Star Fox
The Star Fox is a science fiction novel by Poul Anderson, first published in 1965. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965, an award won by Frank Herbert's Dune.There Will Be Time
There Will Be Time is a science fiction novel by American writer Poul Anderson. It was published in 1972 in a hardback edition by Doubleday and in 1973 in a paperback edition by New American Library.
The story is about a young man who has a genetic mutation that allows him to move through time. It was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973.