Thursday, 25 July 2013

Reviewing The Past

Some readers might notice that this post repeats some points that had already been made in greater detail in several much earlier posts. However, I think that these reflections on Poul Anderson's works remain so fresh that they bear repetition - and may be of interest to any readers who have either forgotten or not read the earlier posts?

In a recent post, I think that I comprehensively summarized what I called Anderson's "pre-futuristic " works into ten groups. By "pre-futuristic," I mean any narrative set in a past or a present as opposed to a future - although, by their own internal logic, some of these narratives do continue into the future as well:

time travelers visit both the past and the future;
immortals who endure through history survive into the future;
Englishmen taken into space in the historical past are found by fellow Earthmen in a spacefaring future.

It seems that there is no limit to what Anderson can imagine.

The ten "pre-futuristic" groups were:

Last Viking;
14th century;
Many Times;
Many Timelines;
Time Patrol;

Of these:

Ys (with Karen Anderson) is a tetralogy;
The Last Viking is a trilogy;
the Time Patrol is a series, most recently published as one omnibus collection and one long novel;
"Many Timelines" is four novels and two short stories connected by common characters;
"Vikings" is five novels connected by common references - and the first Viking volume refers to Ys;
"BC" and "14th century" can each be described as "three novels of different genres classified together only because of the period in which they are set."

However, the difference between a single century and everything BC stretches the word "period" to its limit! The BC "triad," so to call it, covers:

heroic fantasy set in another author's fictitious prehistoric civilization;
science fictional time travel to Atlantis;
historical fiction set during the Roman Republic.

Thus, extraordinarily comprehensive both in periods and in genres. I have not yet read or even seen copies of any of Anderson's three contemporary detective novels, although there are one or two detective short stories in one of the collections. I am currently rereading the collection, Alight In The Void, and will shortly return to the short story, "The Star Beast."

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