Saturday, 30 August 2014


The previous post compared Doctor Who with HG Wells' The Time Machine and with Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series.

The post before that compared Anderson's fantasies with those of James Blish, Neil Gaiman and Mike Carey.

Earlier posts have compared Anderson's future histories with those of Wells, Stapledon, Heinlein, Asimov, Blish, Niven and Pournelle.

Thus, Anderson's name is prominent on lists of authors of time travel fiction, fantasy and future histories. Heinlein also wrote these three kinds of fiction but his major time travel works comprise three ingenious statements of one paradox and lack Anderson's historical settings.

Tim Powers combined time travel with fantasy. His The Anubis Gates has Egyptian gods and magic but also several intricate circular causality paradoxes. Thus, this single work compares both with Anderson's three historical circular causality novels and with several of his fantasy novels. However, Anderson surpasses the other authors mentioned in both output and range.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I recommend as well the works of S.M. Stirling. It's my view that he is a worthy successor to Poul Anderson in speculatively examining different kinds of "alternate universes" stories (altho Stirling does not seem much interested in time travel stories). I would suggest experimenting with one or two of his stand alone works, such as THE PESHAWAR LANCERS or CONQUISTADOR, to see if you might like his works.

    I could tell, from both direct mentions of Poul Anderson and his works or recognizably Andersonian turns of phrase and expression that Stirling is a big fan of PA. I even saw a passing mention of an Ensign Dominique Flandry in one of "Dies the Fire" books!

    S.M. Stirling, like Anderson, also takes religious and philosophical ideas seriously and treats honest believers in God with respect. Altho I did find the heavy use of neo pagan beliefs and rituals in large parts of the "Dies the Fire" books rather unconvincing.

    One thing which I did find hard to believe was how often Stirling had women being as active and numerous as men serving as soldiers and navy personnel in his books. Why? Because women average 25 percent to one third LESS strong than most males. Stirling was able to get me to suspend my disbelief on this point in his Draka books by having Draka females (I can hardly call them WOMEN) study, train, have special diets, and practice, practice, practice from early childhood on the martial arts. With, later, advanced genetics being used to physically enhance Draka females. But he was less convincing on this point in the "Dies the Fire" books.


  2. Hi, Paul!

    I f orgot to add that if Mr. Stirling has a fault as a writer, it's in sometimes being too DETAILED in what he describes. In putting in so much of his researches that it sometimes slows down without need the reading of his books. Poul Anderson, by contrast, was able to efficiently condense most of his info dumps in ways that smoothly integrated them into his stories.

    I'm sorry to seem critical of Stirling's works. I truly do like and admire many of his books. If he sees these comments of mine, I hope he won't be offended!


  3. Sean,
    This blog is for literary criticism (as well as for theological and political debate!). Other readers of Stirling's works are free to reply that the info dumps do not slow down his stories - or to let the criticism stand.

    1. Hi, Paul!

      In MOST cases, I don't think Stirling's info dumps slows down his stories too much. The example where I think it did was in his minute description of how to run a farm using circa 1860 technology. My thought was that the detail and care shown there was admirable, but not really needed for developing the plot of the story.

      But, even over detailed info dumps had a very Andersonian feel to and was interesting enough to keep me reading them instead of skipping ahead!