Wednesday, 23 April 2014

NESFA Collections Vol 1

At last I am reading the NESFA Press The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Vol 1, Call Me Joe (Framingham, MA, 2009), although I suspect that I have already read the best of its contents.

The table of contents fills a page but this turns out to be because many of the items are not short stories but short(er) verses. We recognize poems that, apparently, were published in Staves first but then were incorporated into novels. "Heinlein's Stories" is a comic verse, not, as I had hoped and expected, a serious article.

There is a page of haikus. I think that Anderson wrote the perfect haiku in his later novel, Genesis:

"The shadows, like life,
"Moved beneath summer daylight.
"Evening reclaims them."

There is a kind of sf hero who manipulates entire societies with clever schemes. These include James Blish's John Amalfi and an obnoxious extra-solar alien in Anderson's "The Helping Hand."

At last I have read "The Martian Crown Jewels," although I prefer the original Sherlock Holmes as he appears in "Time Patrol." At last also I have read the first of the three Wing Alak stories:

"The Double-Dyed Villains" (1949);
"Enough Rope" (1953);
"The Live Coward" (1956).

(I was born in 1949 and started to attend boarding school in 1956.)

Strangely, the first of these stories incorporates the titles of the second and third stories as phrases in its text (p. 161). This short trilogy deserves its own volume with the title League Patrol. Some of Anderson's characters work for organizations with diverse purposes:

the Time Patrol guards human history;
the Coordination Service guards the Stellar Union;
the League Patrol guards the Galactic League;
the Polesotechnic League makes a profit but spreads civilization in the process;
Naval Intelligence guards the Terran Empire.

Blish wrote about comparable organizations:

the Colonization Council "seeds" the galaxy;
Okie cities "pollinate" the galaxy;
Traitors' Guilds exchange intelligence and disinformation between interstellar powers;
the Service guards an expanding, intergalactic civilization.

Both the Time Patrol and the Service work with time: the Patrol studies and preserves the past whereas the Service receives messages from and guards the future.

Why are "Time Patrol" and two Technic History stories in this collection when they are already collected with the rest of their respective series? Why include so many of the non-series time travel stories when most of these are in Past Times which deserves to be revised and republished?


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Just a tiny correction, you misspelled "Collections" in the title of this blog piece..

Am I right thinking you feel some disappointment with NESFA's CALL ME JOE? Both because it contains too many stories you've read elsewhere and your wish that "Heinlein's Stories" had been a discussion of Heinlein's work rather than a short poem? IF so, I hope you will like the later NESFA volumes better, both because they included hitherto never before republished Anderson stories and some of his essays.

But, in fairness to NESFA, it's right to point out that a major reason NESFA is publishing these volumes is simply to AGAIN make available to readers many of the stories written by Poul Anderson. A worthy, admirable, and necessary goal!

My copy of CALL ME JOE came from the first printing, wherein the text was marred by many mistakes and errors, some of them amusing. I hope your copy came from much improved later printings. And the proof reading for the later volumes of this series was much better!

I am naturally pleased and flattered how you've been keeping my essay about Sandra Miesel's Technic Civilization chronology at the "head" of your blog. But, I only wanted to highlight how I believe her chronology could have been improved, not to KEEP my essay at the front of your blog. Let it "slide down" in the normal way.

And thanks for posting in your blog my latest piece, focusing on the uncollected works of Poul Anderson.


Paul Shackley said...

Thank you for the correction.
Too early to say whether I am disappointed.
My copy is a First Edition.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I look forward to any further comments you care to make about CALL ME JOE. The mere fact it contains tales like the truly masterful title story goes a long way to justifying my purchasing a copy.

A quick way of discovering if your copy came from the first printing is to check if "Journeys End" has an apostrophe. If so, it came from the unsatisfactorily proof read printing. For some reason, more than one proof reader has insisted it should have the apostrophe, altho Poul Anderson did not use or want it in the title.


Paul Shackley said...

I will comment more on CALL ME JOE.
My "Journeys End" has an apostrophe.
So Anderson intended "Journeys" to be nominative plural, not genitive singular, and "End" to be a verb, not a noun.
James Joyce intended FINNEGANS WAKE to mean not "The Wake of Finnegan" but "The Finnegans wake up."
In Sikhism, the scripture, the Granth, is referred to as the Teacher (Guru) and Lord (Sahib). So, of course, one of my pupils, asked the meaning of "Guru Granth Sahib," replied "Lord Teacher's Book." His presuppositions destroyed the meaning.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Exactly right, nominative plural, not genitive singular, as regards the title of "Journeys End." And many readers still misunderstand FINNEGANS WAKE as FINNEGAN'S WAKE? Reminds me of how Poul Anderson discussed in his preface to "Journeys End" in GOING FOR INFINITY of how Anthony Boucher had to overrule his proof readers insistence on the apostrophe for that story.