Saturday, 13 August 2016


Poul Anderson, Operation Chaos (New York, 1995), p. 51.

"Like most people, I'd drifted through life."

A single sentence in a fantasy novel can sum up the lives of many of its readers. Looking back, I am appalled at the extent to which I drifted through life without forethought or plan even though the job that I eventually wound up in consisted of advising young people on career planning. I was right to reject attempts by elders to dictate how I lived but was wrong not to devise a plan for myself - but was also completely incapable of doing so at the time. I stayed in education as long as possible because I valued learning as an end, not as a means. I now enjoy an entirely undeserved happy retirement in which one of the pleasures is blogging.

Fortunately for all of us, Poul Anderson had no occasion to drift. He completed University education, then immediately began a long, productive and creative career as a full time writer. I was reading about Dominic Flandry and Manse Everard when I "should have" been thinking beyond the end of the current academic year.

A sentence like the one that I have quoted from Operation Chaos is an invitation for anyone to reflect on life even though the fictional drifter is a werewolf who had acted as the Wolf Man for MGM.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have read, however, that Poul Anderson ORIGINALLY planned on becoming a working scientist after getting his physics degree. His very first stories were simply written either for his amusement or to obtain money for traveling expenses. As time passed without him finding a permanent job at a laboratory or other research institute, he began writing more and more. Then he came to realize his true job was to be a great writer, not a mediocre scientist.