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Poul Anderson

anderson of terra

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Poul Anderson was one of the pulp science fiction masters of the '50's and '60's. He's been eclipsed in recent years, and hasn't maintained his popularity the way, say, Robert A. Heinlein has....but he's still written some very good stuff. I've never attempted to build a complete collection of Anderson's books, but there are a few titles I cherish, and pull out periodically when I need a lift.

My favorite is The High Crusade, a space opera with a difference. An army has gathered in a little town in 14th Century England prior to embarking upon an expedition to France when an alien space ship lands. The residents, taking the blue-skinned aliens for demons, attack and take over the ship, requiring their sole captive to fly them to France, and then the Holy Land. Instead, the captive takes them to the nearest alien home world, where extremely funny mayhem ensues. It's witty, silly, and a complete hoot.

Three Hearts and Three Lions is another gem, about a 20th century man who finds that he is the reincarnation of one of Charlemagne's herioc companions...and that France has need of him once again. I'm told this book partly inspired Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle.

And then, there are the Hoka stories, written with Gordon Dickson.

On top of these Anderson has written a slew of science fiction and fantasy about memorable characters such as Agent Dominic Flandry and merchant Nicholas van Rijn. Check out your local bookstore; if there's anything of Anderson's in print, it's probably worth reading.

The Hoka Stories

Back in the 1950's Anderson got together with Gordon Dickson to write a series of short stories about a race of aliens called the Hokas. Hokas are delightful people, with an amazing taste for drama-- given a halfway decent role, your average Hoka would much rather play it than be him or herself. And it seems that the first scout ship to visit Toka, the Hoka's planet, showed a number of Earth movies to the Hokas. Consequently, the League's first ambassador to Toka is faced with Hoka cowboys, Hoka pirates, a Hoka Sherlock Holmes, and many other things designed to make him tear his hair out.

Did I mention that the Hokas are about three feet tall, and resemble teddy bears?

The original Hoka stories were first published in a single volume called Earthman's Burden. In the '70's, the pair wrote a loosely related novel, Star Prince Charlie, which features a Hoka as a major character. They wrote a handful of additional stories in the mid '80's, which were published as Hoka!. All of these stories have recently been collected together and republished as Hoka! Hoka! Hoka! and Hokas Pokas!. The titles are uninspired (I suppose Earthman's Burden was judged not to be Politically Correct) but the tales are a joy.

A Few Books by Poul Anderson

Anderson has written many more books than these; I'm including only my particular favorites as, due to the peculiarities of publishing, titles and everything else may have changed. The Hoka books are a case in point.

The High Crusade
Reviews: 1 November 2000
Three Hearts and Three Lions
Reviews: 1 November 2000
Ensign Flandry
Hoka! Hoka! Hoka!
With Gordon Dickson; portions originally published as Earthman's Burden and Hoka!. Reviews: 1 April 2000
Hokas Pokas!
With Gordon Dickson; portions originally published as Hoka! and Star Prince Charlie. Reviews: 1 April 2000
The King of Ys
With Karen Anderson; originally published in four volumes.

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