Thursday, 5 September 2013

Beginning To End

Rearranging the contents of Poul Anderson's Going For Infinity (New York, 2002) into chronological order of publication generates this list:

"Gypsy," 1950;
"Sam Hall,"1953;
"The Master Key," 1954;
"Journeys End," 1957;
Three Hearts And Three Lions (extract), 1961;
"Epilogue," 1962;
"The Horn of Time the Hunter," 1963;
"Dead Phone," 1964;
"The Queen of Air and Darkness," 1971;
"Goat Song," 1972;
"The Problem of Pain," 1973;
"Windmill," 1973;
A Midsummer Tempest (extract), 1974;
"The Saturn Game," 1981;
"Quest," 1983;
"Death and the Knight," 1995;
"Kyrie," 1996;
"The Shrine for Lost Children," 1999 -

- and that is fifty years.The acknowledgements list informs us that "The Horn of Time the Hunter" was originally "Homo Aquaticus" and we are grateful for the change.

Some Anderson titles might be confused with each other:

"Quest" and "Terminal Quest" are different kinds of stories;

"Windmill" and "Quixote and the Windmill" are installments of different series.

In 1999, Poul and Karen Anderson attended a meeting in Japan for which they designed an inhabited planet close enough to the Solar System for radio communication. Poul comments that he "...may yet get a novel out of it." (p. 360) Clearly, there was no idea of retiring after half a century of writing.

His story for the fiftieth anniversary issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1999 was "The Shrine for Lost Children," described as a tribute to Japan. (p. 361)

The story's thirteen pages are divided into nine sections each headed by a place name:


I found this narrative rather disjointed. The story is fantasy if its protagonist really is internally haunted by her still-born twin sister and psychological fiction if the internal dialogue was caused by the mother's obsessive insistence on naming and continually referring to her lost daughter. In either case, the dead sister is laid to rest when the protagonist makes an offering to "...Jizo, patron of travelers and the savior of children." (p. 372)

And then there is "...Understanding...":

"It was not only Jenny who clung to me. I would not let go. Here I have freed myself from myself." (p. 374)

The last two stories, chronologically speaking, both feature a woman inwardly haunted by her dead in a religious context.

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