Sunday, 5 March 2017

None Better?

Eilir Mackenzie thinks of Tolkien:

"...it's a great story, none better..."
-SM Stirling, The Protector's War (New York, 2006), Chapter Four, p. 117.

I do not share this "none better" evaluation of Tolkien. How good a book is is closely related to how often I want to reread it. I read The Lord Of The Rings once when at University and once again when the films came out. I do not know how often I have reread two major series by Poul Anderson.

Tolkien's major body of work is the History of Middle Earth;

Anderson's Time Patrol series is the history of mankind as seen by time travelers;

Anderson's History of Technic Civilization is a "future history."

I recommend Anderson's The Earth Book Of Stormgate, a single volume collecting twelve works including one novel with additional introductory passages and covering three periods of the Technic History:

the Grand Survey;
the Polesotechnic League;
the early Terran Empire.

The introductory passages are based on The People Of The Wind and the Earth Book includes stories about Nicholas van Rijn, David Falkayn and Adzel, all of whom appear in other volumes of the History. Thus, the Earth Book is a massive single volume that is also fully integrated into a much longer fictional history. It deserves both wider recognition and screen adaptation.

3 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I agree with what you said about the works of Poul Anderson. But I lean more to Eilir Mackenzie's view of LOTR. While I've not gone as far as some Middle Earth fans and read LOTR every year, I think I have read LOTR at least ten times. And I've read THE SILMARILLION at least three or four times, and loved it. And I strongly recommend THE CHILDREN OF HURIN to you.

    Needless to say, I've read THE HOBBIT multiple times, perhaps as many as ten times. Tolkien and Anderson, these were the two writers of fantasy and SF who have most DEEPLY affected me. And PA wrote an essay on how Tolkien had affected HIM called "Awakening The Elves."

    Sean

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  2. Paul and Sean:
    I'm a strong Tolkien fan as well. "None better" is pitching it too far, but still....

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    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      I agree! Like you, I hesitate a bit at the "none better...," but I do see why some Tolkien fans think like that.

      Poul Anderson has also written fantasies so good that I would not think it too much of a strain if some called them "none better." THE BROKEN SWORD and THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS comes to mind.

      Sean

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