Tuesday, 28 January 2014


(My aim has now become to end January with 40 posts - thus, there will have been 1550 posts since the blog began. I will then catch up with other reading for what is left of this month.)

After the (loosely interpreted) "Historical" and "A-Historical" sections of Poul Anderson's Fantasy (New York, 1981), the third and last section is called "It Could Happen To You" - although I am not sure that it could.

The first story in the third section is "Interloper." I read this story many years ago, I think in an anthology. My next Anderson reading will be to finish "Of Thud and Blunder," then to reread "Interloper."

I remember a certain amount. The story addresses the question, "Why build an interstellar empire?" Sf readers are familiar with interstellar empires but not with that precise question. The story involves extrasolar aliens. That alone would be enough to make this work science fiction (sf). However, it also involves fairies. That on its own would change the story's category to fantasy. However, the fairies are scientifically rationalized so we are back with sf.

It is aliens versus fairies. The fate of Earth is at stake, unbeknownst to human beings - although, in reality, it is we who imagine those other kinds of beings. In this case, "aliens versus fairies" does not mean "science versus the supernatural" because, as already stated, these fairies, intelligent beings secretly coexisting with human beings, are scientifically rationalized.

Thus, this story's "King Oberon" (p. 210) is neither the Shakespearean Oberon of Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest nor the Shakespearean Auberon of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (see image). However, I do remember that this Anderson short story contains many interesting details, which I will appreciate on rereading.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    Actually, I would argue that many SF fans are familiar with answers to the question "Why build an interstellarr empire?" from reading both the works of Poul Anderson and Isaac Asimov. In Anderson's Technic History the Terran Empire arose on the ruins of the looser structure of the fallen Solar Commonwealth and Polesotechnic League due the urgent need to restore order and drive out barbarian invaders. In Asimov's THE CURRENTS OF SPACE we see the Trantorian Empire on the edge of unifying the entire galaxy and founding the First Galactic Empire. This was defended on the grounds that peace and order could only be ensured by Trantor conquering the entire galaxy.


  2. Sean,
    Yes, and similarly with the Empire of Man in the Motie books. I should have said, "Why build a covert, exploitative interstellar empire?" which I think is the issue in "Interloper." I will be able to say more when I have reread the story.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Yes, that does clarify what you actually meant. And, the Empire of Man in Niven/Pournelle's CoDominium/Motie series also arose for motives similar to what we see in Anderson/Asimov.