- ANDERSON, Poul (William)
- (1926-)US writer born in Pennsylvania of Scandinavian parents; he lived in Denmark briefly before the outbreak of WWII. In 1948 PA gained a degree in physics from the University of Minnesota. His knowledge of Scandinavian languages and literature and his scientific literacy have fed each other fruitfully through a long and successful career. He is Greg BEAR's father-in-law. PA's first years as a writer were spent in Minnesota, where after WWII he joined the Minneapolis Fantasy Society (later the MFS) and associated with such writers as Clifford D.SIMAK and Gordon R.DICKSON, both of whom shared with him an attachment to semi-rural (often wooded) settings peopled by solid, canny stock (frequently, in PA's case, of Scandinavian descent) whose politics and social views often register as conservative, especially among readers from the urban East and the UK, although perhaps this cultural style could more fruitfully be regarded as a form of romantic, Midwestern, LIBERTARIAN individualism. Although he is perhaps sf's most prolific writer of any consistent quality, PA began quite slowly, starting to publish sf with Tomorrow's Children, with F.N.Waldrop, for ASF in 1947, but not publishing with any frequency until about 1950 - a selection of eloquent early tales appears in Alight in the Void (coll 1991) - when he also released his first novel, a post-HOLOCAUST juvenile, Vault of the Ages (1952). In 1953 PA seemed to come afire: in addition to 19 stories, he published magazine versions of three novels, Brain Wave (1953 Space Science Fiction as The Escape, first instalment only before magazine ceased publication; 1954), Three Hearts and Three Lions (1953 FSF; exp 1961) and War of Two Worlds (1953 Two Complete Science-Adventure Books as Silent Victory; 1959 dos). The last of these is one of PA's many well told but routine adventures, in this case involving a betrayed Earth, alien overlords and plucky humans; but the other two are successful, mature novels, each in a separate genre. In Three Hearts and Three Lions, an ALTERNATE-WORLD fantasy, an Earthman is translated from the middle of WWII into a SWORD-AND-SORCERY venue where he fights the forces of Chaos in a tale whose humour is laced with the slightly gloomy Nordic twilight colours that have become increasingly characteristic of PA's work (noticeably in Three Hearts's sequel, Midsummer Tempest 1974). Brain Wave, perhaps PA's most famous single novel, remains very nearly his finest. Its premise is simple: for millions of years the part of the Galaxy containing our Solar System has been moving through a vast forcefield whose effect has been to inhibit certain electromagnetic and electrochemical processes, and thus certain neuronic functions. When Earth escapes the inhibiting field, synapse-speed immediately increases, causing a rise in INTELLIGENCE; after the book has traced various absorbing consequences of this transformation, a transfigured humanity reaches for the stars, leaving behind former mental defectives and bright animals to inherit the planet. After Brain Wave PA seemed content for several years to produce competent but unambitious stories - in such great numbers that it was not until many years had passed that they were adequately assembled in volumes like Explorations (coll 1981) and its stablemates - and SPACE OPERAS with titles like No World of Their Own (1955 dos; with restored text vt The Long Way Home 1975 UK); he occasionally wrote under the pseudonyms A.A.Craig and Winston P.Sanders, and in the mid-1960s as Michael Karageorge. It was during these years, however, that he began to formulate and write the many stories and novels making up the complex Technic History series, in reality two separate sequences. The first centres on Nicholas van Rijn, a dominant merchant prince of the Polesotechnic League, an interstellar group of traders who dominate a laissez-faire Galaxy of scattered planets. Anderson has been widely criticized for the conservative implications it is possible (though with some effort) to draw from these stories, whose philosophical implications he modestly curtails. The second sequence properly begins about 300 years later, after the first flowering of a post-League Terran Empire, which, increasingly decadent and corrupt, is under constant threat from other empires. Most of the sequence features Dominic Flandry, a Terran agent who - sophisticated, pessimistic and tough - gradually becomes a figure of stature as Anderson fills in and expands his story, begun in 1951. The internal chronology of the double sequence is not secure, but the following list is close. Van Rijn: War of the Wing-Men (1958 dos; with restored text and new introduction vt The Man who Counts 1978); Trader to the Stars (coll 1964; with 1 story cut 1964 UK); The Trouble Twisters (coll 1966); Satan's World (1969); Mirkheim (1977); The Earth Book of Stormgate (coll 1978; in 3 vols 1980-81 UK); The People of the Wind (1973). Flandry: Ensign Flandry (1966); A Circus of Hells (1970)and The Rebel Worlds (1969; vt Commander Flandry 1978 UK), both assembled as Flandry (omni 1993) The Day of Their Return (1973) andThe People of the Wind both assembled as The Day of Their Return/The People of the Wind (omni 1982); Mayday Orbit (1961 dos) and Earthman, Go Home! (1960 dos), both assembled with revisions as Flandry of Terra (omni 1965); We Claim These Stars (1959 dos), which is included in Agent of the Terran Empire (coll 1965); A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (1974; vt Knight Flandry 1980 UK) and The Rebel Worlds both assembled as The Rebel Worlds/A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (omni 1982); A Stone in Heaven (1979); The Game of Empire (1985), featuring Flandry's daughter, and pointing the way to two post-Flandry tales: Let the Spacemen Beware (1960 Fantastic Universe as A Twelvemonth and a Day; 1963 chap dos; with new introduction vt The Night Face 1978), also included in a separate collection, The Night Face and Other Stories (coll 1978); and The Long Night (coll 1983). Stories written later tend to moodier, darker textures. A somewhat smaller sequence, the Psychotechnic League stories, traces the gradual movement of Man into the Solar System and eventually the Galaxy itself. There is a good deal of action-debate about AUTOMATION, the maintenance of freedom in an expanded polity, and so forth. The sequence comprises, by rough internal chronology: The Psychotechnic League (coll 1981), Cold Victory (coll 1982), Starship (coll 1982), The Snows of Ganymede (1955 Startling Stories 1958 dos), Virgin Planet (1959), and Star Ways (1956; vt with new introduction The Peregrine 1978). There are several further series. The early Time Patrol stories (ALTERNATE WORLDS) are contained in Guardians of Time (coll 1960; with 2 stories added vt The Guardians of Time 1981) and Time Patrolman (coll of linked novellas 1983), both assembled as Annals of the Time Patrol (omni 1984); subsequently, early and later material was rearranged as The Shield of Time (coll of linked stories 1990) and The Time Patrol (omni/coll 1991), which re-sorted long stories from the first volumes along with a new novel, Star of the Sea, plus The Year of the Ransom (1988) and other new material. The History of Rustum sequence, mainly concerned with the establishing on laissez-faire lines of a human colony on a planet in the Epsilon Eridani system, includes Orbit Unlimited (coll of linked stories 1961) and New America (coll of linked stories 1982). With Gordon R.Dickson, PA wrote the Hoka series about furry aliens who cannot understand nonliteral language (i.e., metaphors, fictions) and so take everything as truth, with results intended as comic: Earthman's Burden (coll of linked stories 1957), Star Prince Charlie (1975) and Hoka! (coll of linked stories 1984). The Last Viking sequence - The Golden Horn (1980), The Road of the Sea Horse (1980) and The Sign of the Raven (1980) - is fantasy, as are the King of Ys novels, written with PA's wife Karen Anderson (1932-): Roma Mater (1986), Gallicenae (1987), Dahut (1988) and The Dog and the Wolf (1988). Although many of the novels and stories listed as linked to series can be read as singletons, there seems little doubt that the interlinked complexity of reference and storyline in PA's fiction has somewhat muffled its effect in the marketplace. This situation has not been helped by a marked lack of focus in its publication, so that the interested reader will find considerable difficulty tracing both the items in a series and their intended relation to one another. With dozens of novels and hundreds of stories to his credit - all written with a resolute professionalism and widening range, though also with a marked disparity between copious storytelling skills and a certain banality in the creation of characters - PA is still not as well defined a figure in the pantheon of US sf as writers (like Isaac ASIMOV from the GOLDEN AGE OF SF and Frank HERBERT from a decade later) of about the same age and certainly no greater skill. Nonetheless he has been repeatedly honoured by the sf community, serving as SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS OF AMERICA President for 1972-3, and receiving 7 HUGOS for sf in shorter forms: in 1961 for The Longest Voyage (Best Short Story); in 1964 for No Truce With Kings (Best Short Story); in 1969 for The Sharing of Flesh (Best Novelette); in 1972 for The Queen of Air and Darkness (Best Novella), which also won a NEBULA; in 1973 for Goat Song (Best Novelette), which also won a Nebula; in 1979 for Hunter's Moon (Best Novelette); and in 1982 for The Saturn Game (Best Novella), which also won a Nebula. PA also won the Gandalf (Grand Master) Award for 1977. Out of the welter of remaining titles, four singletons and one short series can be mentioned as outstanding. The High Crusade (1960) is a delightful wish-fulfilment conception; an alien SPACESHIP lands in medieval Europe where it is taken over by quick-thinking Baron Roger and his feudal colleagues who, when the ship takes them to the stars, soon trick, cajole, outfight and outbreed all the spacefaring races they can find, and found their own empire on feudal lines. It is PA's most joyful moment. Tau Zero (1967 Gal as To Outlive Eternity; exp 1970) is less successful as fiction, though its speculations on COSMOLOGY are fascinating, and the hypothesis it embodies is strikingly well conceived. A spaceship from Earth, intended to fly near the speed of light so that humans can reach the stars without dying of old age (as a consequence of the time-dilatation described by the Lorentz-Fitzgerald equations), uncontrolledly continues to accelerate at a constant one gravity after reaching its intended terminal velocity, so that the disparity between ship-time and external time becomes ever greater: eons hurtle by outside, until eventually the Universe contracts to form a monobloc. After a new Big Bang the ship begins to slow gradually and the crew plans to settle a new planet in the universe that has succeeded our own. The felt scope of the narrative is convincingly sustained throughout, though the characters tend to soap opera. In The Avatar (1978) a solitary figure typical of PA's later work searches the Galaxy for an alien race sufficiently sophisticated to provide him with the means to confound a non-libertarian Earth government. THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS (1989) ambitiously follows the long lives of a group of immortals, whose growing disaffection with the recent course of Earth history again points up the sense of disenchantment noticeable in the later PA, along with a feeling that, in an inevitably decaying Universe, the tough thing (and the worthy thing) is to endure. In Harvest of Stars (1993) and its sequel, The Stars Are Also Fire (1994), that sense of disenchantment once again governs a tale in which Earth - after centuries of savage environmental exploitation - is no longer capable of sustaining humanity's quest for new adventures, and for a new home. The elegy is perhaps soured by some political point-scoring; but the escape from the dying planet is sustained and exhilarating. Other works: The Broken Sword (1954; rev 1971); Planet of No Return (1956 dos; vt Question and Answer 1978); THE ENEMY STARS (1959; with one story added exp as coll 1987); Perish by the Sword (1959) and The Golden Slave (1960; rev 1980) and Murder in Black Letter (1960) and Rogue Sword (1960) and Murder Bound (1962), all associational; Twilight World (2 stories ASF 1947 including Tomorrow's Children with F.N.Waldrop; fixup 1961); Strangers from Earth (coll 1961); Un-Man and Other Novellas (coll 1962 dos); After Doomsday (1962); The Makeshift Rocket (1958 ASF as A Bicycle Built for Brew; 1962 chap dos); Shield (1963); Three Worlds to Conquer (1964); Time and Stars (coll 1964; with 1 story cut 1964 UK); The Corridors of Time (1965); The Star Fox (fixup 1965); The Fox, the Dog and the Griffin: A Folk Tale Adapted from the Danish of C.Molbeck (1966), a juvenile fantasy; World without Stars (1967); The Horn of Time (coll 1968); Seven Conquests (coll 1969; vt Conquests 1981 UK); Beyond the Beyond (coll 1969; with 1 story cut 1970 UK); Tales of the Flying Mountains (1963-5 ASF as by Winston P.Sanders; fixup 1970); The Byworlder (1971); Operation Chaos (coll of linked stories 1971); The Dancer from Atlantis (1971) and There Will Be Time (1972), later assembled together as There Will Be Time, and The Dancer from Atlantis (omni 1982); Hrolf Kraki's Saga (1973), a retelling of one of the greatest Icelandic sagas, associational; The Queen of Air and Darkness and Other Stories (coll 1973); Fire Time (1974); Inheritors of Earth (1974) with Gordon EKLUND - the novel was in fact written by Eklund, based on a 1951 PA story published in Future; The Many Worlds of Poul Anderson (coll 1974; vt The Book of Poul Anderson 1975), not the same as The Worlds of Poul Anderson (omni 1974), which assembles Planet of No Return, The War of Two Worlds and World without Stars; Homeward and Beyond (coll 1975); The Winter of the World (1975), later assembled with The Queen of Air and Darkness as The Winter of the World, and The Queen of Air and Darkness (omni 1982); Homebrew (coll 1976 chap), containing essays as well as stories; The Best of Poul Anderson (coll 1976); Two Worlds (omni 1978), which assembles World without Stars and Planet of No Return; The Merman's Children (1979); The Demon of Scattery (1979) with Mildred Downey Broxon (1944-); Conan the Rebel (1980); The Devil's Game (1980); Winners (coll 1981), a collection of PA's Hugo winners; Fantasy (coll 1981); The Dark between the Stars (coll 1982); the Maurai series comprising Maurai and Kith (coll 1982), tales of post-catastrophe life, and Orion Shall Rise (1983), a pro-technology sequel, in which humanity once again aspires to the stars; The Gods Laughed (coll 1982); Conflict (coll 1983); The Unicorn Trade (coll 1984) with Karen Anderson; Past Times (coll 1984); Dialogue with Darkness (coll 1985); No Truce with Kings (1963 FSF; 1989 chap dos); Space Folk (coll 1989); The Saturn Game (1981 ASF; 1989 chap dos); Inconstant Star (coll 1991), stories set in Larry NIVEN's Man-Kzin universe; The Longest Voyage (1960 ASF; 1991 chap dos); Losers' Night (1991 chap); Kinship with the Stars (coll 1991); How to Build a Planet (1991 chap), nonfiction; The Armies of Elfland (coll 1992). As Editor: West by One and by One (anth 1965 chap); Nebula Award Stories No 4 (anth 1969); The Day the Sun Stood Still (anth 1972), a common-theme anthology with Gordon R.Dickson and Robert SILVERBERG; A World Named Cleopatra (anth 1977) ed Roger ELWOOD, a SHARED-WORLD anthology built around the title story and concept supplied by PA; 4 titles ed with Martin H.GREENBERG and Charles G.WAUGH, Mercenaries of Tomorrow (anth 1985), Terrorists of Tomorrow (anth 1985), Time Wars (anth 1986) and Space Wars (anth 1988); The Night Fantastic (anth 1991) with Karen Anderson and (anon) Greenberg.About the author: Against Time's Arrow: The High Crusade of Poul Anderson (1978 chap) by Sandra MIESEL; Poul Anderson: Myth-Maker and Wonder-Weaver: A Working Bibliography (latest edition 1989 in 2 vols, each chap) by Gordon BENSON Jr and Phil STEPHENSEN-PAYNE.See also: ALIENS; ANTHROPOLOGY; ASTEROIDS; ATLANTIS; BLACK HOLES; CLONES; COLONIZATION OF OTHER WORLDS; CRIME AND PUNISHMENT; CYBORGS; DESTINIES; ECOLOGY; ECONOMICS; END OF THE WORLD; ESCHATOLOGY; FANTASTIC VOYAGES; FANTASY; FASTER THAN LIGHT; FORCE FIELD; GALACTIC EMPIRES; GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION; GAMES AND SPORTS; GENETIC ENGINEERING; GODS AND DEMONS; GRAVITY; HEROES; HISTORY IN SF; HUMOUR; IMMORTALITY; JUPITER; The MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION; MAGIC; MATTER TRANSMISSION; MUTANTS; MYTHOLOGY; NUCLEAR POWER; PLANETARY ROMANCE; POLITICS; PSI POWERS; PSYCHOLOGY; RELIGION; ROBERT HALE LIMITED; ROBOTS; SCIENTIFIC ERRORS; SENSE OF WONDER; SOCIAL DARWINISM; SOCIOLOGY; SPACE FLIGHT; STARS; SUN; SUPERMAN; TECHNOLOGY; TERRAFORMING; TIME PARADOXES; UNDER THE SEA; UTOPIAS; VENUS; WAR; WEAPONS.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.