Monday, 15 October 2012


Quite often in Poul Anderson's fiction, our hero escapes from his enemies and spends quite a lot of time pursued and avoiding recapture. One way to make an initial escape is with a hostage. A high-ranking opponent, surreptitiously held at sword-point or at gun-point, can be forced to accompany the hero and his companion(s), thus concealing from the hostage's subordinates that an escape is occurring.

This sort of things happens in Ensign Flandry and The Golden Slave. In the latter novel, three escaping slaves, helped by a lot of good luck, force their owner to hire a ship and to accompany them on board. Inevitably, he escapes from them and alerts the crew that his three companions are mutineers. The three retaliate by freeing and arming the slaves who are the ship's cargo. Now there is a more even fight that will result in slaughtering the crew and capturing the ship. We are back to a more plausible sequence of events.

Escapes, pursuits and fights are necessary to the plots of action-adventure fiction which, moreover, Anderson wrote very well. However, it is several other features of his writing - the well-realised historical and speculative future periods, descriptive passages, characterisation and re-told myths and legends - that make us read and reread his works.

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