Thursday, 27 August 2015

Looking Back

Poul Anderson Appreciation, published purely for pleasure, not profit, proceeds unpredictably. Looking back, it is possible to discern certain unplanned directions of reading or rereading. Recently:

Poul Anderson's many works, including his two short stories of realistic alternative history;

SM Stirling's many more elaborate alternative history novels;

Stirling's Time Patrol short story, "A Slip In Time";

early chapters of Anderson's Time Patrol novel, The Shield Of Time.

Despite this unplanned procedure, several consistent themes emerge:

Anderson made major contributions to several literary traditions;
he systematically addressed issues like time travel or AI from every conceivable angle;
his central characters are problem-solvers, often realizing and implementing the solution to a current problem before explaining it to their colleagues and thus to the readers;
Anderson regularly wrote detailed descriptive passages, appealing simultaneously to several of the senses;
thus, his works bear endless rereading to appreciate such details;
another part of the appreciation of his works is to engage with arguments and values presented in the texts;
he asks and answers ultimate questions about the significance of life and intelligence.

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