Sunday, 8 September 2013

Veering In The Vastness

Several long sequences of posts on this blog have been united by their focus on a particular sub-set of Poul Anderson's works, like:

the King of Ys Tetralogy (with Karen Anderson);
Anderson's many other works set in the past;
the Harvest of Stars Tetralogy;
the Technic Civilization History;
the diverse though overlapping contents of many short story collections -

- but the blogger is at any time free to veer off in some other direction.

Which works do get blogged about is a function of (i) which works are in my possession and (ii) which of these are easily to hand at any given time.

Regarding (i), some books that I did not have are being bought online. The next to arrive should be the first of Anderson's detective novels. Regarding (ii), many books by Anderson and others have been moved from a cellar to an upstairs room where they have yet to be shelved properly and, in any case, they overflow the available shelf space. Anderson books, when looked for, have a consistent knack of not being found where it is thought that they should be.

Thus, having reread several collections and not knowing which of the remaining collections to address next but needing to pick a book in haste, I looked instead for two novels, Planet Of No Return and The Byworlder, only to have the all too familiar experience of not being able to find either of them. These should not have wandered far so should come to light and, if they did not, could presumably be acquired second hand.

Meanwhile, however, I picked up The Peregrine as an alternative, have since posted about it and now intend to finish rereading this novel so will probably post some more. Thus, blogging continues if not always predictably.

I mention all this because I think that the academic practice of identifying each volume by its title followed by its place and date of publication can generate the impression that an author's complete works exist in some ideal realm where they remain perennially accessible whereas the un-Platonic reality is that they in fact exist only as manifested in physical copies and that the unavailability of such a copy is an insuperable obstacle to any attempt to read or refer to them!

So some sort of time-consuming effort is involved not only in acquiring but also in keeping track off the relevant works. This struggle continues.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I hope you enjoy PERISH BY THE SWORD when it comes. One point which struck me while reading this and the other Yamamuro novels was how strangely different the US of 1959 seemed then from what we see now. More orderly, more civilized, more innocent in some ways. NOT that that wasn't plenty of evil to be found, of course, but it looked far less decadent.

    THE DEVIL'S GAME (1980) was another novel which was written and set in real world contemporary terms by Anderson. Compare the Yamamura books with this one and I think you will understand what I mean.


  2. Sean,
    "The past is another country." I wonder if every period seems more innocent to its successors?
    I have THE DEVIL'S GAME and have read it once. It is not on my immediate rereading list but I imagine that I will get to it eventually.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Very true, about "The past being another country." Exactly this was discussed in one of the later Flandry books, something about the problems past generations had to handle seemed less than overwhelming to later generations. Too vague, I know!

      Oh, I wasn't urging you to reread THE DEVIL'S GAME right away. Only that if you do so with the Yamamura books also in mind you will see how SOCIALLY or sociologically different they are.

      Parts of THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS are set in the 20th century. I remember with what great interest I read them because they were set in real world terms personally familiar to me. The late Senator Edward Kennedy (whom I loathed) even comes in as a chracter (under another name, of course!).

      And despite having its full share of evil, I do consider the US of 1959 an improvement in many ways over what we see today. The decadence represented by Miley Cyrus' gross out show would have been inconceivable back then.


  3. Hi, Paul!

    Just a few remarks about your point "ii." I certainly sympathize with you about the difficulty of keeping all your most favorite books in a single, accessible location. I have two entire bookcases devoted solely to holding the works of Anderson. One has only (except a few trade paperbacks) hard backs while the other has the paperbacks plus a few hardbacks. And, a few year ago, I wrote a list of all the Anderson books I have to serve as a catalog. So, I think I'm fairly well organized!


  4. Sean,
    Books are extraordinary because they can rest unopened on a shelf for decades but it is good to be able to pick one up and refer to it when necessary.