Friday, 28 March 2014

Inheritors Of Earth

Inheritors Of Earth is an sf novel by Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson, based on Anderson's 1950 short story, "Incomplete Superman." The novel features three forms of humanity:

Mortals, the most populous;
Superiors, described as orphans living in shadows;
the Others, enslavers and terrorists.

I have never encountered "Incomplete Superman" and had never heard of Inheritors Of Earth until I found its cover illustration this evening while searching for another Anderson image. Thus, here is an entirely unexpected novel co-written by Anderson. And I think that Anderson also novelized a Man-Kzin Wars story that he wrote?

While waiting for Multiverse, maybe I need to start tracking down the NESFA collections, which are hard to get in the UK? Although they include many familiar stories, they also seem to be lengthy volumes containing plenty of other works not previously collected or anthologized. Yet they are not a Complete Works. Reading everything written by Anderson seems to be an impossible task.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    No, Poul Anderson was not a co author of Gordon Eklund's INHERITORS OF EARTH. Anderson declined to be associated with that book. I THINK Eklund expanded "Incomplete Superman" both in ways Anderson disliked and without his consent.

    I agree, it seems impossible to read everything Poul Anderson has written! I think I still have not read somewhere betwen 40 and 60 of his short stories. And I've not read all of his essays as well. We really DO need a COMPLETE COLLECTED WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON!



  2. Sean,
    So the publishers were wrong to display Anderson's name on the cover as if he was co-author!

    1. Hi, Paul!

      Yes, they were. And I've wondered if Gordon Eklund had falsely told them Poul Anderson was a co author.


  3. Hello, Gentlemen (and any ladies who may be following the blog),

    I remember finding that book in a used bookstore many years ago. I bought it, and didn't much like it. I can't speak to the merits of the original Poul Anderson story.


    1. Hi, Nicholas!

      I would not be surprised at all if Anderson's original story "Incomplete Superman" was better than the novel Eklund made from expanding that story. I really hope NESFA Press will include that story in one of their collections of Anderson's short stories.

      I actually have a copy of Eklund's INHERITORS OF EARTH. Altho Poul Anderson declined to be associated with that book, the completist in me caused me to get a copy despite it's tenuous connection to Anderson. It's been many years since I read it, so I can't fairly comment, personally, on how bad or good it is.

      I know I read somewhere about what Anderson thought of INHERITORS OF EARTH, but I can't quite recall where to look for it. Drat!


  4. in a few days i'll put up John Clute's review for this book originally published in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction back in 1975. It seems to be another sloppy Roger Elwood project, gone to print without copy-editing.

  5. part one

    Gordon Eklund joins Poul Anderson in, or maybe bamboozles him into, a collaborative effort that makes recent Van Vogts look positively normal.

    INHERITORS OF EARTH is an awful, awful book. There is no way to describe it without rewriting it. A chapter-opening quotation demonstrates the case:

    “It was far too cold out here for taking a walk.
    Alec had neglected to grab a coat when leaving the house and was now actually shivering from the chill.
    The sensible thing, if he wanted to do it, would be to turn right around this moment and hurry back to home and heat and bed.
    Sensible – yes – but he knew he wasn’t going to do it.
    Sensibility was a state of mind that existed far beyond his present ability to accept.
    His feet kept moving – without conscious volition.
    Each additional step was a separate and individual motion.
    One – then another – and another.

  6. part two

    And, all this time, the house dwindled farther into the distance.”
    Although Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson are both credited as authors of INHERITORS OF EARTH, I do not believe that Poul Anderson wrote this passage. He may be sentimental at times; his storylines may derive more from pulp and less from mythopoeisis than he (or his protagonists) tend to think; he may sleep at the wheel. But he does not wamble like a spastic turkey on a skating rink. As I do not know the work of Gordon Eklund solo, I’m forced to posit it’s resemblance to turkey tracks sight unseen, which may be unfair, but look at the passage. Look at the first sentence: Is it too cold to take a walk together? Or is it merely too cold to take a walk without a coat: See second sentence. See third sentence: Is it sensible to go back to the house whether or not he wants to? Or is a “sensible thing” to do only if it’s something he wants to do?: But see fourth sentence: No it’s not: Sensible is sensible, period. See fifth sentence: Sense and sensibility, as Jane Austen demonstrated in 1811 and the dictionary established on long before that, are not synonyms, repeat, not synonyms. See sixth sentence: Are we to remark on the presence of volition-less feet? Or on the fact that walking had become solely a moter activity at this point?: Not the latter: See seventh sentence: Each step is “separate and individual,” not simple a motor activity, therefore we are supposed to remark on the presence of volition-less feet. See sixth sentence: See eighth sentence: Check. See ninth sentence: Are we supposed to remark on the fact that the house is not keeping pace?

    End of paragraph.

  7. part three

    See next paragraph (page 87). Alec gets out of sight of the house. It’s a short paragraph. See next paragraph. It starts the chapter off again. See next paragraph. It starts the chapter for the third time. See Gordon Eklund learn about stretching copy. See Poul Anderson spanking Gordon Eklund very hard, don’t you just wish.

    At the very minimum, science fiction books should wear a style that resembles newspaper copy in it transparency to content; ideally, science fiction, like other forms of literature, should work towards a consciousness of the ultimate unity of form and content, a consciousness we on our side, as readers, do our best to tune out when we’re trying to surrender ourselves to baroque, highly machined stories of the sort INHERITORS OF EARTH claims to be. A priori, then, we give to our reading of INHERITORS OF EARTH a kind of willed innocence, a gift from us as consumers to Gordon Eklund and Poul Anderson as producers. And the least we can expect is a book that doesn’t gobble in our faces.

    The story seems to begin on page 97, with Part Two of the book. Though I don’t have a copy of the March 1951 issue of Future Combined With Science Fiction Stories to check, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Poul Anderson’s original effort, “Incomplete Superman,” begins at this point, and that all the maundering and shilly-shallying about of the first half of INHERITORS OF EARTH must be the responsibility of the collaborator.
    Starting at page 97 then, which enables us to avoid Van Vogt Yaw in the process, Van Vogt Yaw being what happens when short stories are tossed into a novel and get seasick, we see that a superior stock has somehow been grafted onto homo sapiens, and plans to take over. Complicating the picture are half-breeds, all of them sterile, like mules. These half-breeds don’t know of the existence of the pure stock, and think they are the coming thing. Everyone gets worked into a fine frenzy. There’s a new religion, and a saintly android, and a few humans, and a beautiful daughter. There is also a telepathic gestalt, comprised of an assemblage of these ingredients, lightly stewed, which defeats one of the supermen in another dimension at a crucial moment (it’s then end of the book), resolving nothing but leaving one lonely omnipotent police officer with a ray of hope. It is not one of Poul Anderson’s more characteristic tales. Fahrenheit 451 may solve the storage problem.

  8. that was what John Clute had to say back in 1975.

    here is what Kirkus had to say..

    This is a bleak reworking of the old theme of disguised aliens covertly plotting humanity's destruction. A small tribe of telepathic orphans, who call themselves ""Superiors,"" are engineering a world war to be fought by android soldiers. But this clandestine group has its own secret enemy, the mysterious ""others"" who emerge as the ""Inheritors"" -- a vicious breed of supermen who are the true parents of the Superiors and are using their offspring for their own dark ends. Embroiled in the labyrinthine conspiracies are Superiors Alec Richmond and his wife Anna, a police inspector and a guru. The last two solve the conundrum of the Inheritors but humanity's ultimate salvation is as much by accident as by good management. A sharp-edged, unsettling story.

  9. March/April 2014 issue of Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction has a Gordon Eklund short story. '

    'The Cross-Road Blues' (1999),%20Gordon/Eklund-CrossRoadBlues.html

  10. Thank you. Please keep us informed of Eklund.


    read the book online for free.

    finally, Incomplete Superman has been reprinted too.