Anvil’s Interstellar Patrol

Interstellar Patrol – Christopher Anvil, Baen Books 2004 paperback, “Colonization” series, 592 pages

Interstellar Patrol II – Christopher Anvil, Baen Books 2007 paperback, “Colonization” series, 882 pages

Interstellar Patrol I cvr small

Interstellar Patrol II cvr - small

The pseudonym of Harry C. Crosby Jr., “Christopher Anvil” was one of my favorite authors in the days I was reading Astounding Science Fiction a long time ago. I’m talking about when John Campbell edited it, and before it became Analog, though I believe Anvil stories appeared after the name change.

That’s where I  read “Pandora’s Planet” in 1956, and I was hooked. Baen published Pandora’s Legions in 2002 which contains “Pandora’s Planet” and  the rest of the Centra series. Then in September 2004 came the first of these two collections. Interstellar Patrol collects 14 stories, the first half of Anvil’s Colonization series of stories. Those stories were originally published in random order, but editor Eric Flint did a nice job of putting them into a fairly coherent saga. In 2007 came the second, massive, volume Interstellar Patrol II, with 23 stories, the rest of the Colonization series of stories.

John Clute in his excellent Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes Anvil’s work as “archaic, simplistic and insistently readable”. For me these are a “guilty pleasure” of good old science fiction enjoyment. These are books to read in a gleeful swoop. Anvil’s sense of the absurd, his ability to twist logic and invest his characters with simultaneous strength and frailty makes the people and organizations in these stories a delight. These Interstellar Patrol stories include several first contact tales that are hilarious and thought provoking.

If anyone has wondered if there is a place in science fiction for humor, irony and fun in science fiction, I believe the answer – yes – lies in the stories collected in these volumes, and in the rest of Anvil’s work. These are highly recommended!

Baen Books has since published more volumes in it’s republishing of Anvil. Check here –  Baen Books – Anvil – for more information.

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10 Responses to Anvil’s Interstellar Patrol

  1. Bill Crider says:

    Good for Baen Books. I really got a kick out of those stories when I read them in Astounding, and I’m sure I’d still like them today.

  2. Drongo says:

    Not quite able to get into Anvil’s stuff, but I much approve of Baen Books bringing old school stories back into print. I’m particularly happy to see all those wonderful Keith Laumer novels available again.

    I’m also enjoying The Broken Bullhorn. You’re off to a pretty good start.

  3. Drongo, I agree with you that Baen is doing a good job, they are one of my favorite s-f publishers. I have some of the Laumer books too, and like them a lot. I guess with Anvil, you might just have to be in the right mood, or maybe the story or stories you tried weren’t his best. I encourage you to try Pandora’s Planet if nothing else.

    Thanks for the compliment. Not bad for a three day blogger, I guess. I still have a lot of tinkering to do, but so far it’s good.

  4. Bill, they are as good – maybe even better – than what we remember, and you can’t say that about a lot of things. If you try one of these, I’d love to hear (or read on your blog) what you think.

  5. George Kelley says:

    I remember reading a Barry Malzberg essay where he wrote that his initial goal as a writer was to be as good as Christopher Anvil.

  6. Drongo says:

    George, I wouldn’t have imagined a connection between Malzberg and Anvil.

  7. Interesting. Malzberg wouldn’t seem to me to be the…type. My opinion of him just went up a little.

  8. I agree, but then perhaps we don’t really know what Malzberg meant by his comment. Still, Anvil IS very good, IMHO.

  9. George Kelley says:

    I think that Malzberg comment came from his brilliant book of SF essays, ENGINES OF THE NIGHT. At one time, Christopher Anvil had a story in just about every issue of ASTOUNDING, just like Ed Hoch in ELLERY QUEEN’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE.

  10. Thank you very much for your help, this has been a great relief from the books,

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