Future Histories of Poul Anderson

While researching the Kirkus column, there's a bunch of authors who frequently appear: one such author is Poul Anderson, a hard SF author whose career really began to take off in the 1950s.

Anderson represents part of the movement in the middle of the 1960s/1970s that ran counter to the New Wave: they tended to be conservative, and typically wrote about stories in space with realistic physics and knowledge of astronomy. Anderson's an author that I've never quite read much of, but his name pops up everywhere, due to the sheer number of stories that he wrote over the course of his career.

As I've been writing this column, I've been really interested in the relationship between conservative / liberal politics that has been injected, but also just how those viewpoints have manifested themselves. Conservative authors tend to write about harder, tangible parts of SF, while some of the more liberal movements reject things like space. That's a gross oversimplification, but there's some roots to it. My suspicion is that this comes out of the connections to the space race between the USA and USSR, and all the trappings involved there.

This isn't to say that liberal authors can't write the hardest of the hard SF - just look at Joe Haldeman and his book The Forever War.

Go read Future Histories of Poul Anderson over on Kirkus Reviews.


  • Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss's history of the genre has some good information about Anderson's career and life.
  • Transformations: The Story of The Science Fiction Magazines from 1950-1970, Mike Ashley. Ashley's book has some excellent information about his work in the magazines.
  • Science Fiction Writers: Second Edition, edited by Richard Bleiler. Sandra Miesel authored the entry on Anderson here, and it's a very good background on his career and analysis on his works.
  • The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction, Paul A. Carter. Good additional contextual information here.
  • Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction, James Gunn. This had some useful contextual information in it.

A trio of obituaries were useful, from The Guardian, New York Times and LA Times. The SF Encyclopedia, as always, has a very useful article about him.