Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Poul Anderson's Works

The works of Poul Anderson are like a prism through which we can view almost everything else:

religious beliefs;
mythological traditions;
social conflicts;
historical processes;
the man-nature and man-machine interfaces;
the universe as described by modern physics;
every sf idea treated in more than one way;
earlier and later fantasy and sf writers;
issues of alien and artificial intelligence...

As Sean Brooks shows here, Anderson's third phase was one of continued creativity and innovation, not of regrettable repetition or decline. By contrast, of the other Campbell future historians, Heinlein and Asimov declined and Blish unfortunately died at fifty four with new and creative plans unrealized.

Recently rereading works as diverse as the Aeneid and Marvel Comics The Ultimates, I found thematic connections with Anderson. I must now return to rereading his Starfarers.

My technical assistant, Ketlan, has ensured that Sean Brooks' most recent article will remain at the top of the blog for a few days. I hope that regular readers will not miss my posts that will be published beneath it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks for the nice mention of me! It was much appreciated.

I agree with you, alas, in Asimov and Heinlein's later works declining in quality. I most ESPECIALLY regret that in Heinlein because he at least occasionally continued to come up with interesting ideas which should have made for fascinating books. The example I have most in mind beingi I WILL FEAR NO EVIL, a book with a wonderful premise ruined by Heinlein's wearisome obsession with sex. Of his later works I would recommend only, with some reservations, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS.

You have to go to Heinlein's pre STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND books to find works showing him at his best as a writer. One example I happened to recently cite, in another context, being DOUBLE STAR.

And I will try to say something only positive about Asimov here. I recently cited his short "Blind Alley" as one example of him being able to write something interesting set in his Galactic Empire stories.