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.