Friday, 29 March 2013

Anderson Juveniles

The three Campbell future historians, Heinlein, Asimov and Blish, each wrote several juvenile sf novels:

Heinlein's Scribner Juveniles include what I call his "Juvenile Future History";

Asimov's Lucky Starr series, although internally inconsistent, shares some major features, extra-solar colonists and robots, with his future history;

Blish's five juvenile novels include one volume of his Cities In Flight future history and three "Haertel" novels, the latter comprising not a single linear sequence but several divergent narratives.

Poul Anderson, a later Campbell future historian and successor of Heinlein, excelled at writing future history series, among many other accomplishments, but did not follow suit with any series of juvenile novels. However, his complete works do include a few items for younger readers:

two short stories in his Technic Civilization future history;
one long story in his Time Patrol series;
I do not remember the title of a short story about a lunar rescue by a juvenile hero;
I have the idea that maybe Vault Of The Ages is a juvenile novel;
the Technic Civilization novel, The Game Of Empire, has a teenage heroine so that might count (although not necessarily).

Unlike his predecessors, Anderson did not emphasise juvenile fiction but he wrote it well, nevertheless.

3 comments:

  1. Vault of the Ages is a juvenile, and is up to a certain standard of competence, although I wouldn't call it Anderson's best by a long shot. It's set several centuries after a nuclear war; a country at a below-twentieth century level of science, technology, and organization faces a barbarian invasion. Meeting it requires cooperation between the country being invaded, the "Witches" living in the ruins of a city, and possessing some higher technology, and some elements of the barbarians. The book may have been more original when written than it would be now, or even by the 1970's when I read it.

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    1. Hi, "ndrosen":

      I agree, VAULT OF THE AGES is not among the very best of Anderson's books. But I did read it both times with pleasure. And I thought the concept of using a Time Vault to store information focusing on what a people gradually rising again from near utter disaster could use very interesting. That is, the Vault in the story stored information and models of technology people at a roughly AD 1400 level of technology could quickly learn how to use.

      And Anderson being the kind of man and writer that he was, he did not stop there. He had the founder of the Vault including as well much of the thought and wisdom of saints and philosophers of the past to help guide future generations in rebuilding civlization along reasonably decent lines.

      And I do agree we have seen more sophisticated examples of post nuclear holocaust novels (sometimes varied either by alien invasion or the Earth getting struck by a comet) since VAULT OF THE AGES was published. Two examples, both by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, being LUCIFER'S HAMMER and FOOTFALL. Frank Herbert's ALAS, BABYLON also comes to mind.

      Some might wish to add Shute's ON THE BEACH, but since everyone eventually dies in that book, it hardly fits the topic being discussed.

      Sean

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  2. Hi, Paul!

    The only book length work of Anderson which I believe is properly a "juvenile" is VAULT OF AGES. And while THE GAME OF EMPIRE features Dominic Flandry's teenaged daughter Diana Crowfeather as the chief human character, I would not classify that book as a "juvenile."

    I do recall a few short stories such as "Wingless on Avalon" and "The Season of Forgiveness" as being probably meant for younger readers. But they can be read with just as much interest and pleasure by adults.

    And I'm sure that if I searched thru Poul Anderson's non series works more titles can be found which were written largely for younger readers.

    Sean M. Brooks

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