Saturday, 26 September 2015


I have wondered how S.M. Stirling was inspired to write his four Draka books (MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA, UNDER THE YOKE, THE STONE DOGS, and DRAKON).  One source to investigate is what Stirling himself said, such as the Introduction he wrote for DRAKAS! (a collection of short stories featuring the Drakas he had consented to other authors writing).  This is what Stirling wrote on page 2 of  DRAKAS! (Baen Books, 2000): "So a thought came to me, suppose everything had turned out as badly as possible, these last few centuries.  Great change make possible great good and great evil. The outpouring of the Europeans produced plenty of both."

I agree that Mr. Stirling's Draka books are dystopian alternate history science fiction, based on the premise of everything turning out as badly as possible.  BUT, what if, unbeknownst to Stirling, he had also been influenced in shaping the basic premises of the Draka stories by Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization stories?  Assume a small group of people with ideas similar to those of the Draka had left a hostile Terra soon after a FTL drive was invented to settle a planet deep in what became the dominions of Merseia in Anderson's Technic stories.

There actually was a human ethnic group within the Terran Empire whose ideas might have developed along the lines taken by the Draka if circumstances had been different!  I refer to the Zacharians, whom we see in THE GAME OF EMPIRE.  Matthew Zachary and Yukiko Nomura, the founders of the Zacharians, lived around the time when a FTL drive had been invented and mankind was beginning to leave the Solar System.  Their desire was to use genetic science to create an improved form of humanity which would provide the leaders of the human race.  To quote Kukulkan Zachary, from Chapter 17 of THE GAME OF EMPIRE: " ' Travel beyond the Solar System was just beginning.  Matthew Zachary saw what an unimaginably great challenge it cast at humankind, peril as well as promise, hardihood required for hope, adaptability essential but not at the cost of integrity.  A geneticist, he set himself the goal of creating a man that could cope with the infinite strangeness it would find.  Yes, machines were necessary, but they were not sufficient.  People must go into the deeps too, if the whole human adventure was not to end in whimpering pointlessness.  And go they would.  It was in the nature of the species. Matthew Zachary wanted to provide them with the best possible leaders.' "

All too predictably, the appearance of the genetically modified Zacharians aroused suspicions of them wishing to become a master race tyrannizing over mankind.  It caused the Zacharians to be alternately shunned or persecuted (with Kukulkan Zachary admitting the Zacharians MIGHT have become such a caste in the right circumstances).  It ended with the Zacharians settling the island they called Zacharia, on the planet Daedalus, orbiting the star named Patricius.  By the time the Terran Empire arose and restored order after the Time of Troubles, the Zacharians had become merely one more ethnicity in an Empire containing thousands of them.  Their resentment at this eventually led them to become traitors, co-conspiring with Merseia to place its agent Olaf Magnusson on the throne as a puppet Emperor.  Kukulkan Zachary tried to justify this in Chapter 20 of THE GAME OF EMPIRE by saying: " ' We owe the Terran Empire nothing.  It dragooned our forebears into itself.  It has spurned our leadership, the vision that animated the Founders.  It will only allow us to remain ourselves on this single patch of land, afar in its marches.  Here we dwell like Plato's man in chains, seeing only shadows on the wall of our cave, shadows cast by the living universe.  The Merseians have no cause to fear or shun us.  Rather, they will welcome us as their intermediaries with the human commonality.  They will grant us the same boundless freedom they desire for themselves.' "

Oh, the irony!  From aspiring to becoming the leaders of mankind, leaders who MIGHT have become like the Draka, the Zacharians eventually decided they would settle for becoming Quislings governing mankind under Merseian supervision.  And I disagree with Kukulkan Zachary--nothing prevented Zacharians from either enlisting in the Imperial armed forces or entering the Civil Service.  Being able and intelligent, many would rise to be among the leaders of the Empire.  But that would have meant adopting the preferred view of the Empire taken by both the other humans and non-humans within its domains, of becoming ASSIMILATED by the Empire, and renouncing the dream of ZACHARIANS being the leaders of mankind.

I wish to examine what we know of the ideology of racial supremacy which dominated Merseia in the days of the Terran Empire, to see how closely it resembled the beliefs of the Draka.  A few quotes from Chapter XIV of A CIRCUS OF HELLS will help: "They [the Merseians] didn't want war with Terra, they only saw the Empire as a bloated sick monstrosity which had long outlived its usefulness but with senile cunning contrived to hinder and threaten THEM..."  And: "No, they did not dream of conquering the galaxy, that was absurd on the face of it, they simply wanted freedom to range and rule without bound, and "rule" did not mean tyranny over others, it meant just that others should not stand in the way of the full outfolding of that spirit which lay in the Race..."

I did not believe a word of this!  As the Merseians expanded into the galaxy they contacted other intelligent races with as much right to exist as theirs.  Yet their reaction was to scorn them as beings inferior to them, and to dominate them because they were not Merseians.

In Chapter XIII of A CIRCUS OF HELLS we see some of Dominic Flandry's reflections about the Merseians and the beliefs driving them: "You gatortails get a lot of dynamism out of taking for granted you're the natural future lords of the galaxy," the man thought, "but your attitude has its disadvantages.  Not that you deliberately antagonize any other races, provided they give you no trouble.  But you don't use their talents as fully as you might.  Ydwr seems to understand this.  He mentioned that I would be valuable as a non-Merseian--which suggests he'd like to have team members from among the Roidhunate's client species--but I imagine he had woes enough pushing his project through a reluctant government, without bucking attitudes so ingrained that the typical Merseian isn't even conscious of them." 

The points I wish to stress about this otherwise out of context quote are these: Merseian belief in their superiority and destiny as rulers of the galaxy, their at best condescending attitude toward non-Merseians, a hint of how ruthless the Merseians could be to any who opposed them, etc.

The human ruled Terran Empire was Merseia's greatest and most powerful rival among oxygen breathing races.  How did at least some Merseian leaders regard humans and how would they treat humans?  An answer to these questions can be found in Chapter 10 of ENSIGN FLANDRY.  Brechdan Ironrede, Protector of the Roidhun's Grand Council, said of the human race: " ' They were magnificent once.  They could be again.  I would love to see them our willing subjects.'  His scarred features drooped a little. ' Unlikely, of course.  They're not that kind of species.  We may be forced to exterminate.' "  Note the casually chilling acceptance of the idea of exterminating an entire intelligent race.  And, by extension, all other non-Merseian races who dared to resist Merseian domination.

In ENSIGN FLANDRY we see one Merseian who did not believe in the evil ideology of racial supremacy and felt betrayed by his own leaders.  As Dwyr the Hook said in Chapter 12: " ' What was the conquest of Janair to me? They spoke of the glory of the race.  I saw nothing except that other race, crushed, burned, enslaved as we advanced.  I would have fought for my liberty as they did for theirs.' "  Dwyr concluded; " ' Do not misunderstand.  I stayed loyal to my Roidhun and my people.  It was they who betrayed me.' "  Dwyr thought like that because he had discovered how badly his own superiors had lied to him as regards being healed of severe war injuries.

To see how humans inside the Empire reacted to Merseians claiming their race was superior to all others I'll quote from Chapter XII of A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS what Bodin Miyatovich, Gospodar of Dennitza and governor of the Taurian sector said: " ' The Empire would have to get so bad that chaos was better, before I'd willingly break it.  Terra, the Troubles, or the tyranny of Merseia--and those racists wouldn't just subject us, they'd tame us--I don't believe we have a fourth choice, and I'll pick Terra.' " Here we see Merseian rule considered so harsh it amounted to treating non-Merseians as mere animals.

I have reviewed Merseian ideas of racial superiority and how both humans and non-humans reacted to them.  What was the political form desired for giving Merseian ambitions a practical shape?  In Chapter 9 of ENSIGN FLANDRY Lord Hauksberg remarked that the electors from the landed clans chose the Roidhun from the landless Vach, the Urdiolch, dismissing that, however, as an unimportant detail.  Commander Max Abrams disagreed, saying: " ' It's not a detail.  It reflects their whole concept of society.  What they have in mind for their far future is a set of autonomous Merseian ruled regions.  The race, not the nation, counts with them.  Which makes them a hell of a lot more dangerous than simple imperialists like us, who only want to be top dogs and admit other species have an equal right to exist.  Anyway, so I think on the basis of what information is available. While on Merseia I hope to read a lot of their philosophers.' "

That last bit, about Merseian philosophers, reminded me of what S.M. Stirling's character, William Dreiser, had done on page 64 of MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA (Baen Books: 1988): "He had done his homework thoroughly: histories, geographies, statistics.  And the Draka basics, Carlyle's PHILOSOPHY OF MASTERY, Nietzsche's THE WILL TO POWER, Fitzhugh's IMPERIAL DESTINY, even Gobineau's turgid INEQUALITY OF HUMAN RACES, and the eerie and chilling MEDITATIONS OF ELVIRA NALDORSSEN." It's disturbing to think there might be Merseian analogs of Draka philosophers like Naldorssen.  I can think of one possibly modifying factor: the Merseians belief in "the God" MIGHT soften the ruthless logic of their racist ideology.

To give a more adequate idea of what the Draka and their ambitions were like I'll quote from Stirling's fictional Draka philosopher Elvira Naldorssen's MEDITATIONS: COLDER THAN THE MOON (possibly the same invented book as the one mentioned in the previous paragraph), from page 230 of Stirling's MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA: "The Draka will conquer the world for two reasons: because we must, and because we can. Yet of the two forces, the second is the greater; we do this because we choose to do it.  By the sovereign Will and force of arms the Draka will rule the earth, and in so doing remake themselves.  We shall conquer: we shall beat the nations into dust and re-forge them in our self-wrought image: the Final Society, a new humanity without weakness or mercy, hard and pure.  Our descendants will walk the hillsides of that future, innocent beneath the stars, with no more between them and their naked will than a wolf has.  Then there will be Gods in the earth."

In conclusion it will help if I listed the ways Merseia resembled the Domination of the Draka:
1. Racial superiority of Merseians over all non-Meseians.
2. Inferior status, within the Roidhunate, of all non-Merseian races.
3. Willingness to exterminate entire races.
4. Enslaving of conquered non-Merseians.

In Poul Anderson's Terran Empire stories the focus was on the decline of the Empire and the urgent need to defend it, to prevent civilization from falling, not primarily on Merseia (except as the enemy of the Empire). Still, I believe I have collected enough evidence to show that the Roidhunate was a nasty place for non-Merseians.  I regret how Poul Anderson never thought of writing a few stories set entirely inside the Roidhunate, showing us the views of both Merseians and non-Merseians.  If he had, and if based on the evidence I collected, Merseia would strongly resemble a non-human Domination of the Draka, on an interstellar scale.

S.M. Stirling is a known fan and admirer of the works of Poul Anderson. I think it was at least possible that, besides experimenting with writing dystopian science fiction, unconscious reflection on Merseia's racism and its consequences was a factor shaping how Stirling developed the Draka.  To say, nothing, of course, of how the Zacharians might have contributed to this process.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sensory Deprivation, by Sean M Brooks

This essay discusses how Poul Anderson used "sensory deprivation" as the means used by some of his characters in WE CLAIM THESE STARS and MURDER IN BLACK LETTER to obtain information.  I also want to examine the question of whether sensory deprivation can be used as a legitimate intelligence method or has to be rejected as torture, and thus unethical to use.

I also wish to stress the need to not assume that the ideas, beliefs, or actions of an author's fictional characters are what that author himself believes or that he approves of all that his characters do.  Sometimes, of course, he does--and at other times does not.

The first quote from the works of Poul Anderson showing how sensory deprivation was used to obtain information is from Chapter X of WE CLAIM THESE STARS, one of the stories he wrote for his Technic Civilization series, in the time of the Terran Empire, more than a thousand years in the future. Captain Sir Dominic Flandry, an officer in Terra's Imperial Naval Intelligence Corps, had, with guerilla assistance, captured Clanmaster Temulak, commander of the alien garrison occupying the human town of Garth, on the planet Vixen.  Temulak was an officer belonging to a race called the Ardazirho which had invaded and seized Vixen, a planet colonized by humans belonging to the Empire.  The Ardazirho captive was unwilling to answer questions, so Flandry took recourse to measures designed to break that resistance, using sensory deprivation.  To quote from Chapter X:
    He nodded to Dr. Reineke.  The physician wheeled forth the equipment he had abstracted from Garth General Hospital at Flandry's request.  A blindfolding hood went over Temulak's eyes, sound deadening wax filled his ears and plugged his nose, a machine supplied him with intravenous nourishment and another removed body wastes, they left him immobile and, except for the soft constant pressure of bonds and bed, sealed into a darkness like death.  No sense impressions could reach him from outside.  It was painless, it did no permanent harm, but the mind is not intended for such isolation.  When there is nothing by which it may orient itself, it rapidly loses all knowledge of time; an hour seems like a day, and later like a week or a year.  Space and material reality vanish.  Hallucinations come, and the will begins to crumble.  Most particularly is this true when the victim is among enemies, tensed to feel the whip or knife which his own ferocious culture would surely use.
Clanmaster Temulak, a moderately high ranking Ardazirho officer, would be CERTAIN to have information which would be extremely useful for the Terrans to know.  The story goes on to say Temulak finally cracked after "Three of Vixen's 22 hour rotation periods went by, and part of a fourth, before the message came that Temulak had broken" (WE CLAIM THESE STARS, Chapter XI).

In 1979, when I first read Poul Anderson's mystery MURDER IN BLACK LETTER (Macmillan: 1960), I was surprised to come across this text on page 133: "They're just now beginning to study the mental effects of eliminating sensory stimuli," said Kintyre.  "The mind goes out of whack amazingly fast.  My friend Levinson, in the physiology department, was telling me about some recent experiments.  Volunteers, intelligent self-controlled people who knew what it's all about and knew they could quit any time they wanted--none of which applies to O'Hearn--didn't last long.  Hallucinations set in."  Plainly, it was in the middle or late 1950's that Anderson first came across the idea of using sensory deprivation as a means of obtaining information from subjects unwilling to truthfully answer questions.

Here we see characters from two of Poul Anderson's novels using sensory deprivation to force prisoners they knew had valuable information to answer questions truthfully.  The issue to be examined is whether what Flandry and Kintyre did was torture and hence unethical or whether it was morally licit.  One reason why torture as such is not used by responsible intelligence officers is because of how unreliable it can be.  To again quote from one of Anderson's novels, about eight years later in the Technic History, in Chapter V of A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS, he has Flandry saying: "Let me explain from the ground up.  Interrogation is an unavoidable part of police and military work.  You can do it on several levels of intensity.  First, simple questioning; if possible, questioning different subjects separately and comparing their stories. Next, browbeating of assorted kinds.  Then torture, which can be the crude inflicting of pain or something like prolonged sleep deprivation.  The trouble with these methods is, they aren't too dependable.  The subject may hold out.  He may lie.  If he's had psychosomatic training, he can fool a lie detector; or, if he's clever, he can tell only a misleading part of the truth.  At best, procedures are slow, especially when you have to crosscheck whatever you get against whatever other information you can find."   We see torture, defined as either the crude inflicting of pain or prolonged sleep deprivation, dismissed as slow and unreliable.

For a look at how torture should be regarded ethically, I will quote what the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (Image Books, 1995), an official and authoritative summarizing of Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching, says about it in Nos. 2297-2298: "2297 ....*Torture* which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary for respect for the person and for human dignity.  Except when performed for strictly therapeutic, medical reasons, directly intended *amputations, mutilations,  *and *sterilizations *performed on innocent persons are against the moral law."  And 2298 says: "In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture.  Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy.  She forbade clerics to shed blood.  In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person.  On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading.  It is necessary to work for their abolition.  We must pray for the victims and their tormentors."

Given all that has been previously written, the question to be answered is whether or not the use of sensory deprivation is or is not torture.  If it is not torture, or not always thus, its use as a means of extracting information from those unwilling to answer questions truthfully is ethically permissible.  Those who would defend the use of sensory deprivation will point out that Temulak was not tortured in the senses given above: pain was not inflicted on him nor was he even deprived of, or prevented from sleeping.  All that happened to him was being made temporarily unable to see, hear, smell, or move.  And this was done only as long as it took for persuading Temulak to cooperate in being interrogated. However, those who would argue against the use of sensory deprivation as a means of obtaining information would say that having one's senses deprived of outside stimuli is torture because prolonged lack of stimulation for the senses becomes unendurable.  I believe both sides would agree that to deliberately prolong sensory deprivation beyond the point of inducing the subject to cooperate in being interrogated does becomes torture, and thus immoral to use.

What conclusions can be reached to resolve this question?  Sensory deprivation, when strictly limited and used solely for persuading persons being interrogated to cooperate in being questioned, can be legitimately used.  Two preconditions are necessary: first, the cause or reason for using sensory deprivation on an unwilling person must be so strong that this unwillingness can be rightfully overruled.  Second, interrogators must also be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the person they are trying to question DOES have information they need to discover (because to use sensory deprivation on a prisoner reasonably likely not to know the information being sought is indisputably torture).  For example, a private will know far less information of military value than a colonel or general.  That was certainly the case with Clanmaster Temulak, the captured enemy officer we see in WE CLAIM THESE STARS.  Recall, Temulak was captured by Flandry and his guerrilla assistants on a planet seized and occupied by enemies, in circumstances where discovery and seizure by those enemies was a very high possibility.  Flandry did not have the TIME or means for lengthy, weeks long interrogation of an unwilling prisoner.

I am, of course, open to being corrected in my view that sensory deprivation can be a legitimate interrogation method by REASONED and logical arguments.  I would also be interested in finding out what professional, law abiding, and ethical interrogators and intelligence officers think of this question.  I have tried to find out how sensory deprivation was used in actual cases.  However, I have found none where this method was described as used with the care ordered by Flandry for the treatment of Temulak.  Merely emotional or ad hominem arguments for or against sensory deprivation are rejected out of hand.

During the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1960's and 1970's, British security forces came to use five "sensory deprivation" methods which eventually caused the Republic of Ireland to sue the United Kingdom in the European Court of Human Rights for alleged torture of terrorists or guerrillas (see European Court of Human Rights, "Ireland v. the United Kingdom," January 18, 1978).  The disputed methods were: wall standing, hooding, subjection to noise, deprivation of sleep, and deprivation of food and drink.  In the final judgment handed down by the European Court in the above mentioned case, it examined the United Nations definition of torture and ruled that these five methods did not meet the intensity of pain and suffering laid down by that definition.  However, the Court ruled these methods amounted to "inhuman and degrading treatment," violating Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (another treaty binding on signatory nations).

Except for the hooding of Temulak, none of this applies to the case we see in WE CLAIM THESE STARS.  The prisoner was not subjected to wall standing, loud noises, depriving of sleep, or depriving of nourishment.  So, I am not satisfied the British case gives us a clear example in actual history of the use of sensory deprivation as seen in WE CLAIM THESE STARS.  Nor have I found any US cases using "sensory deprivation" as seen in those of Poul Anderson's works I have quoted in this article.  Rather, the cases I read of were roughly similar, in some of the methods used, to those seen in the British case.

And, speaking personally, I have wondered what it might be like to experience sensory deprivation.  I have actually thought of being tied down, having my ears plugged, eyes blindfolded, etc., for one hour.  What would it be like to endure sensory deprivation for even so short a time? I know there are persons who have found the limited use of sensory deprivation to be restful or useful.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


This article outlines and dates the three phases of Poul Anderson's career as a writer, with representative examples taken from his works. Considering how vast Anderson's output was from 1947 to his death in 2001, it will not be practical or desirable to cite more than a few of his many short stories and novels.  And one weakness of this essay is how I have completely ignored his mysteries, historical novels, and non fictional works.  One last point: this arbitrary carving up of a writer's career into phases is an artificial construct by critics, commentators, and fans, and should be done cautiously, with a grain of salt.

Strictly speaking, it would be correct to date Anderson's career as beginning in September 1944, when AMAZING published his first short story, "A Matter of Relativity."  However, dating the beginning of the early phase of his career to the publication of "Tomorrow's Children" (ASTOUNDING, March 1947) is more realistic.  Because Anderson only began to write regularly from 1947 onwards.

I argue for dating Anderson's early phase from 1947 when "Tomorrow's Children" (which became the first part of TWILIGHT WORLD) was published. And I date the end of this early phase in Anderson's career to 1958, when THE ENEMY STARS was published.  This early phase was when Anderson was still learning how to write, to find his natural voice as a writer, and when he began writing about many of the ideas and themes dearest to his mind.  This early period is also when we can detect a few false starts, or perhaps merely a change of mind in how he thought about and wrote his stories.  The clearest example of that being the Psychotechnic stories (found in collections such as THE PSYCHOTECHNIC LEAGUE, COLD VICTORY, STARSHIP, and novels like VIRGIN PLANET and THE PEREGRINE).

One of the false starts I believe can be found in Anderson's early phase is "Genius"  (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, December 1948). I base this on comments by a critic whose name I cannot convincingly recall (it may have been Sandra Miesel) who argued this very early story contradicted the moral values and beliefs of Poul Anderson.  I wish I could cite the author by name and quote the exact text.  I apologize for this vague and unsatisfactory paragraph and hope I can replace it if I find the text I am incompletely remembering.

Besides hard science fiction Poul Anderson also wrote a smaller but still impressive amount of fantasies, both novels and short stories.  The most significant example of that, during his early phase, being THE BROKEN SWORD (Abelard: 1954).  It's interesting to note how he became dissatisfied with the original form of that novel and published a revised version 1971. Which means THE BROKEN SWORD can be found in both his early and middle periods.  The following bit from Anderson's "Foreword" to the 1971 Del Rey/Ballantine Books edition of THE BROKEN SWORD gives us some understanding of why he became dissatisfied with the first version: "I would not myself write anything so headlong, so prolix, and so unrelievedly savage.  My vein is more that of THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS."

Going back to the Psychotechnic stories, in an "Author's Note" that Anderson placed at the end of THE PSYCHOTECHNIC LEAGUE (New York, Pinnacle Books, 1981) we are given some comments about his first "future history" and why he eventually became dissatisfied with it.  On page 284 Anderson wrote:
    A good reason for this abandonment was that the real world had, predictably, not been behaving as described.  For example, World War Three remains ahead of us, rather than behind.  No doubt I could have fudged my dates a bit. However, I could not explain away important scientific discoveries and technological advances which I had failed to foresee.
    People and institutions had also changed profoundly, as had my view of them. Once I was a flaming liberal, a fact which is probably most obvious in "Un-Man." Nowadays I consider the United Nations a dangerous farce on which we ought to ring down the curtain.  (In justice to it and myself, though, please remember that when I wrote this novella the U.N. had quite a different character from that it has since acquired, and looked improvable.)
I date Anderson's middle period as beginning with the publication of WE CLAIM THESE STARS! (Ace, 1959).  This middle period is marked by the confidence and strength with which Anderson wrote.  Two of his most prominent series of stories which began in his early phase, the stories featuring the Polesotechnic League/Terran Empire and the Time Patrol, reached their full maturity in this middle phase (although Anderson wrote one last Time Patrol story late, in 1995).  I would date the end of this middle period to 1989, when THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS was published. BOAT shows both definite similarities with Anderson's earlier works and touches on the ideas and themes which would dominate the works he wrote during the last twelve years of his life.

David G. Hartwell contributed a prefatory essay to the fourth volume of NESFA Press' reprinting of many of Anderson's shorter works in ADMIRALTY: THE COLLECTED SHORT WORKS OF POUL ANDERSON (2011).  What he said on page 10 admirably describes qualities which can be found in the stories Anderson wrote during his middle period (in fact, in all three phases).  Hartwell wrote: "Instead, again in the hard SF tradition, he most often wrote about strong men and women pitted against the challenge of survival in the face of the natural universe.  Some of them die.  But Anderson was optimist enough to see beyond the dark times into both a landscape, sometimes a starscape, and a future of wonders--for the survivors.  Anderson's future is not for the lazy or the stay-at-homes.  He was fairly gloomy about current social trends, big government, repression of the individual, so he catapulted his characters into a future of new frontiers, making them face love and death in vividly imagined and depicted environments far from home.  I recall the power and beauty and pathos of his fine black hole story, "Kyrie," the wit of THE MAN WHO COUNTS (THE WAR OF THE WING MEN) the good humor of "A Bicycle Built for Brew," the enormous scope and amazing comprehension of "Memorial."  His range was impressive."

(Hartwell's mentioning of "Memorial" puzzles me, I can't find it among Anderson's works.  The item closest to it being "In Memoriam," which can most conveniently be found in ALL ONE UNIVERSE, published by Tor Books in 1996.)

And I would date the beginning of Anderson's middle period in his writing of fantasies to the publication of THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS in 1961. However, since this edition was only an expanded version of the original form of the novel first published by the MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION in September/October 1953, this story belongs more to Anderson's early phase.  A truer representative of Anderson's work in fantasies dating to his middle phase is A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST (Doubleday, 1974).  An especially interesting thing to note about this book is how it was written almost entirely in blank verse, the form of poetry used by William Shakespeare for his plays.  In other words, TEMPEST was written as an act of homage to the Bard.

I am convinced Poul Anderson was a master short story writer.  In both fantasy and hard science fiction.  By turns poetic and elegiac, and scrupulously faithful to known science or not too impossible extrapolations from what was known.  He also excelled in describing his characters and the backgrounds of his stories.

What were some of the ideas and themes which Anderson took up with, in my opinion, magnificent success, in his later years?  Immortality, artificial intelligence based on computer technology (AI, for short), the uploading of human personalities into computer networks (and their downloading into human bodies created for them via DNA engineering and cloning), nanotechnology, even raising animal species to human levels of intelligence, etc. Albeit, as of this writing, we are seeing results in the actual world only in cloning and nanotech.  I am skeptical some of the themes Anderson speculated about in his later years will ever actually come to pass, such as immortality and AI.

One of the ideas which came most strongly to me as marking Anderson's late phase was how WELL he wrote during the period 1989-2001.  It is my opinion that THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS marks both the end of his middle phase and the beginning of his late period.  These years shows Anderson as not being content to rest on his laurels and rehash old ideas and themes from his earlier years.  Instead, his late phase is marked by how boldly he tried out new ideas, some of them very strange to me!  I refer, of course, to his four HARVEST OF STARS books, STARFARERS, GENESIS, and the posthumously published FOR LOVE AND GLORY.  I ardently recommend readers to try out the HARVEST OF STARS books, despite the difficult ideas found in them (some of which, as noted above, I am skeptical will ever actually come to pass).

One of the themes which marked Anderson's later years was how he preferred to speculate about STL means of mankind reaching the stars.  Mostly, of course, because that was, given our current knowledge of science, more likely than having a FTL drive.  But he did use FTL for his last novel, FOR LOVE AND GLORY.

Compared to his early and middle phases, Anderson wrote fewer fantasies during his late period, 1989 to 2001.  The first being "Faith" (co-authored with Karen Anderson) published in AFTER THE KING (1992).  And the first of only two fantasy novels he wrote during his later years was WAR OF THE GODS (Tor: 1997).  Truth to say, I consider WAR to be one of Anderson's very few weaker books.  The second being OPERATION LUNA (1999), placed in the same "world" as OPERATION CHAOS.

I should also note that during his later years Anderson continue to write short stories, both hard SF and fantasy.  Examples being "Death and the Knight," and the posthumously published "Pele" (set in Larry Niven's Man/Kzin wars series) and "The Lady of the Winds" (set in the Thieves World fantasy series).