Fire Time (1974) by Poul Anderson

Firetime1‘I’ve not gotten what news God or Ian Sparling now have.’ Her reference wasn’t theological; Goddard Hanshaw was the mayor (p. 28).

A sidesplitting line, not standard in this page-light, philosophically-laden extra-planetary romance, but deserving enough to get top-billing by me. Perhaps a sign of what Anderson could be if he ditched the political romance for more satire; maybe his slim novels would be better appreciated by new SF fans.

But Fire Time holds itself together better than the overreaching, underpaginated People of the Wind, or the galumphing The High Crusade (an ideal playground for satire, but the humor fails in its puerile simplicity). Another space yarn with parallels to Earthen conflicts, fodder for typical Andersonian commentary on ideological conflict, shared territory, and humanism. Continue reading

People of the Wind (1973) by Poul Anderson

PeopleoftheWind1stMay was a month of second and third chances, when I read popular SF authors that have somehow captivated the fandom, but have not captivated me. In these cases, it’s simply a matter of preference: I’m not macho enough, girly enough, or childish enough. In the case of Poul Anderson, I’m simply not impressed enough. Maybe I haven’t chosen the right Anderson books. Continue reading

One to read with the kiddos: The High Crusade (1960) by Poul Anderson

TheHighCrusade 1stWhen a spaceship lands in the English shire of Ansby during the middle of the Hundred Years’ War, Sir Roger, Baron de Tournville, leads his knights to battle against strange blue “demons,” then hijacks their ship to mount an attack against France. But the lone alien survivor of the Wesgorix, kept alive for information, misleads his captors and autopilots a return to his home empire. Do the merry English bat an eye? Hardly!  The sprawling interstellar empire of the Wesgorix is simply another territory for the Crusade-happy Baron to claim in the name of King Edward III and Christendom.

Monty Python meets Hitchhiker’s Guide? Why not? While the marrying of medieval romps and galactic pioneering sounds as fun today as it did over fifty years ago, the execution is sparse for modern SFers whose mash-up expectations require hundreds of pages, years of research, valid science, and ironic nihilism. But when the first tenth of a novel is dedicated to its most famous fans’ love letters, you know you’ve stumbled on to an important piece of SF history. Continue reading