Wednesday, 10 June 2015


And this is a question, not a statement. Poul Anderson's output is immense. Does any of it count as horror? And what is horror fiction? It is a genre unto itself. At the same time, it can be fantasy, sf or neither. Horror can be generated by a ghost or a demon, by an alien or a robot or by a serial killer. But demons can also be treated routinely or even humorously without horror. Poul Anderson does this once or twice.

Being able to overlap with either fantasy or sf connects horror to superheroes, which has also spun off as a separate genre. Whenever sf characters exercise a power like telepathy or teleportation, they approach superheroes territory. And they are always potentially close to horror although sf usually does not go there.

Any episode of The X-Files could be fantasy, sf or neither which is quite an achievement for a TV series. TV is usually genre-specific. But what of Poul Anderson? This blog has often listed his genres but has not included horror. There is a horror element in Volume IV of Poul and Karen Anderson's The Last King Of Ys (Later: Title slightly wrong. See first comment.) when a character who has died returns to kill others and has to be exorcised.

Regular readers might suspect that this question has been prompted by rereading some graphic fantasy horror by Alan Moore. Most questions can be related back to Poul Anderson in one way or another although sometimes the question might seem peripheral.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    You beat me to it, saying the only one of Poul Anderson's works which has at least a touch of horror was the story of Dahut the Siren in THE DOG AND THE WOLF (not THE LAST KING OF YS), the fourth volume of THE KING OF YS.

    Truth to say, I think it was just as well Poul Anderson only tried to "touch" on horror in DOG. I don't think he would have been truly able to write successful horror stories as did Edgar Allan Poe or Stephen King (I recommend King's 'SALEM'S LOT). Hmmm, but it does make me wonder, would Anderson have written a successful horror novel had he tried? We don't know!


  2. Sean,
    Maybe "The Tale of Hauk" belongs in the same category?

  3. Kaor, Paul!

    Yes, I agree, "The Tale of Hauk" is the closest thing to a horror story I can think of among the short works of Poul Anderson. I should have said so in my previous comment. Except some might object that the story does not END in or with horror.

    I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to think Poul Anderson might not have been able to write truly good horror. I don't think even great writers like PA are likely to excell at ALL kinds of writing.