Poul Anderson short works collection from NESFA

The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson, Volume 1: Call Me Joe
edited by Rick Katze & Lis Carey, NESFA Press 2009 hardcover
science fiction short story collection

Poul Anderson. I’m sure there’s nothing new I can say about an author who is one of the giants of the science fiction genre. Nothing new about the man or his work, that is, except personal opinion which is what you’re about to read.

By my count, I have 23 books with Poul Anderson’s by line on them, more than any other SF writer on my shelves. More than Arthur C. Clark, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Charles Sheffield, and all the rest. I realize that volume alone does not quality make, but when it comes to voting with my book-buying dollar, it does reveal preferences and favorites. Poul Anderson’s work is both high quality and entertaining.

What’s more, I don’t have all of Anderson’s work, and there is some overlap in what I do have. Examples: the short stories in Seven Conquests (Macmillan, 1969) are also in this book or in the second collection now available from NESFA, Queen of Air and Darkness. I have a paperback of Margin of Profit, and that also appears in The Earthbook of Stormgate and in the recently published The Van Rijn Method. In fact I probably have more overlap in my Poul Anderson books than those by any other author. That doesn’t diminish my love for his writing one single bit.

This book: Here we have, in 509 pages, 29 short stories and 17 short poems, plus an introduction by Greg Bear. For complete contents, see the NESFA website. Color wrap-around dust jacket, no interior illustrations. The book is handsome and well made, typical of the publications of NESFA Press.

The cover painting is by Bob Eggleton, it seems to be a tribute to the original Kelly Freas cover for “Call Me Joe” which appeared in the April 1957 Astounding Science Fiction (shown). I honestly like Freas’ cover better and wish they had used it, but I assume there were rights problems. Or maybe they just wanted something fresh.

The stories range in original publication date from “Logic” first published in 1947 to “Ochlan” published in 1993. That’s a long time, and the author’s style and viewpoint changed over the years, but the quality of his writing is always there, his storytelling ability and skill with plot and character a constant. There are some political lectures here and there, as there were in just about all SF of a certain time, and there are some scientific explainations which, in light of present science, may not make a lot of sense, but it’s all good within the framework of the story and is often necessary to it.

I’m not particularly a fan of Anderson’s poetry, but it’s nicely placed throughout the book as endfill following stories, and is not intrusive. Others may enjoy it more then I do.

This is very, very good SF. My recommendation is buy it, read it. If you prefer another way to access Anderson, there are trade paperbacks available from Baen, there are used books available, and of course there is the second volume of this set, The Collected Short Fiction of Poul Anderson, Volume 2: The Queen of Air and Darkness. I have that one on the shelf, and will be cracking it open very soon indeed. I do not know at this time of a third volume is planned (I hope so!).

The New England Science Fiction Association is to be congratulated on yet another excellent book. They’re one of my favorite publishers and their website is well worth a browse.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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19 Responses to Poul Anderson short works collection from NESFA

  1. I love NESFA books, too. I automatically order all their books. Like you, I have plenty of overlapping Poul Anderson books in varying collections and editions. But the NESFA should be the official edition of Poul Anderson’s work.

  2. Scott Cupp says:

    And as much fun as this is, I even enjoyed the 6 volume of Roger Zelazny more. But that’s like preferring lemon meringue over chocolate pie. Either way you win.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    Wish I had something interesting to say, but as someone who has only read a handful of this genre, I don’t.

  4. Carl V. says:

    This is a collection that I want. I hadn’t read any Poul Anderson until this year, but read a couple of his short stories, including Call Me Joe, which I really enjoyed, and on the basis of those two stories I can confidently say that I like what I see. I bought a copy of his first Flanders book recently because I really liked the Michael Whelan cover and thought it looked like a fun read.

    I’m with you, I like the Freas cover better. Don’t dislike the Eggleton cover, but I would have preferred the older one.

  5. Bill Crider says:

    I, too, have a lot of Anderson’s books on my shelves, and his fantasy novel THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS is a favorite of mine. And I, too, like the Freas cover better.

  6. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I’ve never read Anderson but have almost meant to try him.

  7. Richard says:

    George – yes, the official edition, at least of the short works. If they were to publish a uniform edition of everything, I’d probably buy that, too.

    Scott – I agree except I’m not a big Zelanzy fan, at least not big enough to buy more when I have most of his works that I want.

  8. Richard says:

    Patti – if you decide to try a little SF any time soon, Poul Anderson would be a good choice. I’m particularly fond of The Man Who Counts, Margin of Profit and Trader to the Stars, but most of his stuff is good reading. This collection includes a story, “The Martian Crown Jewels”, with a Martian private inquiry agent whose “spiritual advisor” is a Victorian detective named Holmes.

  9. Richard says:

    BillThree Hearts and Three Lions is a favorite of mine, too, I have a paperback of it and also remember reading it serialized in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Thanks to Rick Katz for the correction on that, I had originally thought it was in Astounding.

    Jeff – no time like the present, with this collection and the several things Baen is publishing.

  10. Drongo says:

    I’ve read 25 Anderson books, and while some were better than others, all were enjoyable. The very first science fiction novel I read was THE HIGH CRUSADE.

    Freas was a wonderful illustrator, and I also wish that they had used his cover.

  11. The first Poul Anderson book I ever read was VAULT OF THE AGES. I think I was about eight years old.

  12. Richard says:

    Wow, Poul Anderson at 8. Was it one of the Winston SF books, George? I don’t remember if he did any of those.

  13. Yep, VAULT OF THE AGES was a wonderful Winston SF book. After I read that one, I sought out others in the series. My favorite was Ben Bova’s STAR CONQUERERS with the cool Mel Hunter cover.

  14. Rick Katze says:

    Thanks for the nice words about the first two volumes of Anderson. Volume 3, “The Saturn Game” will be available in July 2010 and i am about to start work on the 4rth volume, which tentatively is titled “Admiralty.” There will be more volumes eventually.

  15. Richard R. says:

    That’s GREAT news, Rick, thanks very much for stopping by to add that. I’ll do a separate post on it Monday.

  16. Joachim Boaz says:

    I just picked up a collection of Poul Anderson short stories — I really enjoy his novels! What’s your favorite novel of his? I’ve read around 10 or so, my favorite has to be The People of the Wind.

  17. Rick Katze says:

    Thanks for all the nice words about the Poul Anderson collections.
    Volume 4 (“Admiralty”) will be available in February 2011. Possibly in Janaury 2011 if everything goes right. You can check the NESFA website (www.nesfa.org).
    And volume 5 is currently in the planning stages.
    By the way, the short version of “Three Hearts and Three Lions” first appeared in “F&SF”, not “Astounding”.

  18. Richard says:

    Joachim – Anderson is a real favorite of mine and I have a hard time picking just one favorite, but the Van Riijn books. I’ve always liked The Man Who Counts especially.

  19. Richard says:

    Rick – and thank you back for pointing out the correct attribution for that book and also for the nice surprise of including a blurb from this review on the dust cover of volume 3. I’m looking forward to future volumes!!

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