The King of Ys by Poul Anderson
"I remember Ys, though I have never seen her."
The King of Ys is a historical fantasy — it is set in our world just before the fall of the Roman Empire and it mixes in the legend of the mythical city of Ys which was built below sea level on the coast of Brittany. Many of the characters in The King of Ys (Roman emperors, Christian saints, etc) are based on legendary and real historical figures and Poul and Karen Anderson include plenty of footnotes which explain the legend of Ys and the culture and religion of the 5th century.
In Roma Mater, we meet Gaius Valerius Gratillonius, a Roman centurion stationed at Hadrian's Wall. Because of his loyalty to would-be-emperor Magnus Clemens Maximus, the commander of... Read More
Poul Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories. He received numerous awards for his writing, including seven Hugo Awards and three Nebula Awards. Anderson received a degree in physics from the University of Minnesota in 1948. He married Karen Kruse in 1953. They had one daughter, Astrid, who is married to science fiction author Greg Bear. Anderson was the sixth President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America from 1972-1973.
The King of Ys by Poul Anderson
Hrolf Kraki’s Saga by Poul Anderson
Poul Anderson took the Viking saga of Hrolf Kraki and crafted this magnificent fantasy novel from the legendary king's story. Hrolf was a sort of Arthurian equivalent in the northern folk tales and myths, but Anderson brought him to life in this novelized retelling of his exploits.
Like much of northern mythology the story is dark in spots, dealing with such themes as murderous sibling rivalry, incestuous relationships, and the everyday brutality that must have been common in the era that was rightly called "the Dark Ages." Even so, Anderson captured the heroic nature of the story, as well as the courageous outlook of the original saga recorders.
Hrolf Kraki’s Saga is a myth retold, rather than historical fiction, although the opening framework sequence is set in more recent historical times with a woman being asked to recount the old myths to a royal... Read More
Psychotechnic League — (1956-1982) Publisher: There was Joachim, captain of the Nomad star ship Peregrine, and ruler of the Peregrine clan. There were also all the ship’s officers and crew and their entire families. Bound to no world, the better part of their lives spent on the great ships, the Nomads were something like the gypsies who once roamed the lands of Earth, and something like the Vikings who once fared Earth’s seas — but different from any human society known before. Once a year, the captains of the Nomad ships met at their secret planet called Rendezvous, where the bylaws and intricate agreements of Nomad society were made and enforced. And this year, Peregrine Joachim had a bombshell to toss into the midst of his colleagues. Five Nomad ships had disappeared, vanished completely in an uninhabited area of space. It appeared to be no accident!
TECHNIC HISTORY (Omnibus editions are available)
Polesotechnic League Period (Nicholas van Rijn) — (1958-1978) Publisher: When three Terrans — a space pilot, a planetary queen and an obese tycoon — crash-landed on Diomedes, they realized that the chances for survival were quite slim. The native food was totally poisonous to humans, and the survivors had only six weeks’ worth of supplies to get them across thousands of miles of unmapped territory to the one Terran outpost. Their only hope was to enlist the aid of the winged inhabitants of Diomedes, and these barbarian tribes cared only for battle and glory. There was little that could induce them to worry about the lives of three humans.
Terran Empire Period (Dominic Flandry) — (1959-2010) Publisher: Dominic Flandry is the central character in the second half of Poul Anderson’s “Technic History” series. He first appeared in 1951. The space opera series is set in the thirty-first century, during the waning days of the Terran Empire. Flandry is a dashing field agent of the Imperial Intelligence Corps who travels the stars to fight off imminent threats to the empire from both external enemies and internal treachery. His long-time archenemy is Aycharaych, from the planet Chereion, a cultured but ruthless telepathic spymaster who weaves plots for the expansionistic rival empire of the alien Merseians. Similar to the James Bond stories (which started two years later), every new adventure brings Flandry another beautiful damsel to woo and rescue. The illegitimate son of a minor nobleman, Flandry rises to considerable power within the decadent Empire by his own wits, and enjoys all the pleasures his position in society gives him. Still, he is painfully conscious of the impending fall of the Terran Empire and the subsequent “Long Night” of a galactic Dark Age. His career is dedicated to holding it off for as long as possible.
Time Patrol — (1961-1990) Publisher: Forget minor hazards like nuclear bombs. The discovery of time travel means that everything we know, anyone we know, might not only vanish, but never even have existed. Against that possibility stand the men and women of the Time Patrol, dedicated to preserving the history they know and protecting the future from fanatics, terrorists, and would-be dictators who would remold the shape of reality to suit their own purposes. But Manse Everard, the Patrol’s finest temporal trouble-shooter, bears a heavy burden. The fabric of history is stained with human blood and suffering which he cannot, must not do anything to alleviate, lest his tampering bring disastrous alterations in future time. Everard must leave the horrors of the past in place, lest his tampering — or that of the Patrol’s opponents, the Exaltationists — erase all hope of a better future, and instead bring about a future filled with greater horrors than any recorded by past history at its darkest and most foul.
Harvest of Stars — (1992-1997) Publisher: Winner of seven Hugo and three Nebula Awards, Poul Anderson is one of science fiction’s supreme masters. In “Harvest of Stars,” his most ambitous novel to date, Earth lies crushed in the grip of totalitarianism. To save her planet, his heroine, Kyra Davis is sent on a mission to liberate our last bastion of freedom and rescue its legendary leader. Her bold adventure will sweep her from Earth’s rebel enclaves to the decadent court of an exotic lunar colony, from the virtual realities of biotech and artificial intelligence to a brave new world menaced by a dying star.
Holger Danske — (1961-1974) Publisher: Holger Carlsen, wounded in Nazi-occupied Denmark, awakens to find himself in a magical land of knights, dragons, and sorcerers.
Operation Otherworld — (1971-1999) Publisher: In a war waged against Black Magic, the fact that Steve is a werewolf and his wife is a highly skilled witch is not unusual. But their adventures prove very unusual, even for their world, when they are given the task of neutralizing an enemy’s ultimate weapon — the world’s most powerful demon.
Last Viking — (1980) With Karen Anderson.
Vault of the Ages — (1952) Archaeologists, studying the past, are handicapped by the fact that relics are usually few and in poor condition. Often, one is not even sure where to look for them. Out of such finds, from tombs, ruined cities, swamps, deserts, and any other place where men of the past have left some trace of themselves, the archaeologist tries to build up a picture of these men’s lives and civilizations. but there are great gaps in our knowledge and probably always will be. For Instance, we cannot yet read the inscriptions left by the ancient Cretans, and so are in the dark about many features of their high civilization…
The War of Two Worlds — (1953) Earth must choose — The Martians or the Monsters!
Brain Wave — (1954) A fascinating ‘what if’ novel, Brainwave is an exploration into the ways human society is organized and the assumptions that are made about how life is valued. It is also a novel about equality and what happens when the hierarchical structures by which we arrange our daily lives disappear.
The Broken Sword — (1954) Publisher: Thor has broken the sword Tyrfing so that it cannot strike at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree that binds together earth, heaven and hell. But now the mighty sword is needed again to save the elves in their war against the trolls, and only Scafloc, a human child kidnapped and raised by the elves, can hope to persuade Bolverk the ice giant to make Tyrfing whole again. But Scafloc must also confront his shadow self, Valgard the changeling who has taken his place in the world of men.
The Long Way Home — (1955) This book has also been published as No World of Their Own
The Enemy Stars — (1959) aka We Have Fed Our Seas. Publisher: The black star was not part of Creation. It was a fossil sun, left over from a Universe that had died before this one was born, circled by an iron tomb that had once been a planet. When the black star called, four men went to the galaxy’s edge. Only one came back. But he did not come back alone…
The Golden Slave — (1960) 100 B.C. The Cimbrian hordes galloped across the dawn of history and clashed in screaming battle against the mighty Roman legions. Eodan, son of Chief Boierek, has been on the war campaign for many years. The Cimbrain army has become a hungry homeless pagan tribe. Their sworn enemy, the Romans, they have battled against gloriously. But for all the burning towns, the new-caught women weeping, the wine drunk, the gold lifted, the Cimbri did not find a home. Eodan, the proud young chieftain, had been caught and sold into slavery, his infant son murdered and his beautiful wife, Hwicca, taken as a concubine. But the whips and slave chains could not break the spirit of this fiery pagan giant who fought, seduced and connived his way to a perilous freedom to rescue the woman he loved. A struggle that would make him a lover, pirate, commander, and in the end the struggle would make him a legend!
The High Crusade — (1960) In the year of grace 1345, as Sir Roger Baron de Tourneville is gathering an army to join King Edward III in the war against France, a most astonishing event occurs: a huge silver ship descends through the sky and lands in a pasture beside the little village of Ansby in northeastern Lincolnshire. The Wersgorix, whose scouting ship it is, are quite expert at taking over planets, and having determined from orbit that this one was suitable, they initiate standard world-conquering procedure. Ah, but this time it’s no mere primitives the Wersgorix seek to enslave—they’ve launched their invasion against free Englishmen! In the end, only one alien is left alive—and Sir Roger’s grand vision is born. He intends for the creature to fly the ship first to France to aid his King, then on to the Holy Land to vanquish the infidel. Unfortunately, he has not allowed for the treachery of the alien pilot, who instead takes the craft to his home planet, where, he thinks, these upstart barbarians will have no choice but to surrender. But that knavish alien little understands the indomitable will and clever resourcefulness of Englishmen, no matter how great the odds against them.
After Doomsday — (1962) Publisher: Earth was gone — the space crew had to find other humans!
The Makeshift Rocket — (1962) Publisher: The story of Knud Axel Syrup and a marvellous spaceship, built of beer kegs, bound with gunk, unholstered with pretzel boxes and powered — for the first time in space travel history — by the mighty reaction forces of malted brew!
Shield — (1963) Publisher: A scientist brings a device to Earth which shields the wearer from any known weapon. Soon he is on the run from every military power on Earth…. including his own!
Three Worlds to Conquer — (1964)
The Star Fox — (1965) Publisher: Earthmen and Aleriona have met in space and neither side can afford to let the other get too strong. The Aleriona have captured the human outpost, New Europe, and claim that all the inhabitants were killed. The World Federation on Earth seems committed to peace at any price, but there are those, and ex-navy Captain Gunnar Heim is one of them, who know that appeasement will only lead to further Alerion encroachment, and he passionately believes that there must be a showdown now, before it is too late. Heim and his crew of volunteers take off from Earth in the Star Fox and start to fit out for their hit-and-run battle.
The Corridors of Time — (1965) Publisher: Storm was a key leader of the Wardens, who were struggling for supremacy over the Rangers. But the Wardens and the Rangers were from centuries past, and it was only by choosing the appropriate gate in the time tunnel that Lockridge could enter their warring worlds. It was a war fought simultaneously with spears and lethal atomic guns…
Tau Zero — (1970) Publisher: Poul Anderson’s book Tau Zero stands out in the genre in large part because it does precisely the thing that one so rarely sees in science fiction: it takes a keen interest in the emotional lives of the characters in the novel, which the novel combines this with a general fascination for all things scientific. In Tau Zero, these two often competing themes in the genre work together with a synergy that makes the novel much more than just another deep space adventure story. From practically the very first page, Tau Zero sets the scientific realities in dramatic tension with the very real emotional and psychological states of the travelers: you have the time factor and their emotional response to the consequence of traveling at this high rate of speed and the time that has passed. This tension is a dynamic that Anderson explores with great success over the course of the novel as fifty crew-members settle in for the long journey together. While they are a highly-trained team of scientists and researchers and therefore professionals, they are also a community of individuals, each of them trying to create for him or herself a life in a whole new space (or literally, in space). It isn’t too long, however, before the voyage takes a turn for the worse. The ship passes through a small, uncharted cloud-like nebula that makes it impossible to decelerate the ship. The only hope rather, is to do the opposite and speed up. But acceleration towards and within the speed of light means that time outside the spaceship passes even more rapidly, sending the crew deeper into space and also, further into an unknown future.
The Dancer from Atlantis — (1971) Publisher: During a cruise to Japan, Duncan Reid is suddenly transported into the distant past, where he and three other time travelers try to find the way home. By the author of The Boat of a Million Years. Nominated for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.
Operation Chaos — (1971) Publisher: In a war waged against Black Magic, the fact that Steve is a werewolf and his wife is a highly skilled witch is not unusual. But their adventures prove very unusual, even for their world, when they are given the task of neutralizing an enemy’s ultimate weapon — the world’s most powerful demon.
The Byworlder — (1971) Publisher: Skip Wayburn, an itinerant artist working his way through the byworld subculture, teams up with Dr. Yvonne Canter in order to communicate with the alien ship that has been orbiting the Earth for three years. Nominated for a Nebula award.
There Will Be Time — (1972) Publisher: Jack Havig, a man born with the ability to move at will through the past and the future of mankind, must save the world from a doomed future of tyranny before his time runs out. Nominated for a Hugo award.
The People of the Wind — (1973) Publisher: Like two giants the old enemies faced each other across the reaches of the galaxy — the Terran Empire and the Ythrian Domain. Terra was a Leviathan, encroaching ever further among the stars, promising peace and prosperity — but at the price of freedom. Ythri was smaller, but an empire in its own right, peopled by birdlike beings with a civilisation and intellect that easily matched Terra’s own. Nominated for a Hugo and Nebula award.
Fire Time — (1974) Publisher: The planet Ishtar has three suns: Bel, the “real” sun, the Life Giver. Ea, the Companion who warms the Ishtaran summers. Anu, the Demon Star. Mostly Anu is so far away that it is just a light in the Ishtaran sky. But once every thousand years it comes close. It is then that the barbarians must flee their scorched lands, and civilizations fall. The natives call this Fire Time. Always before, its coming had meant the death of a civilization. But this time, the humans are here, and they have brought with them their magical technology. This time things could have been different. Too bad that the humans are suddenly faced with a war of their own, their own Fire Time. Nominated for a Hugo award.
The Winter of the World — (1976) Publisher: Thousands of years from now, after a new Ice Age has reduced our world to frozen ruins, new civilizations and cultures arise from the Ice. But as the people of tomorrow slowly uncover the lost technology of the past, they also rediscover war, conquest, diplomacy… and betrayal. While the might Rahidain-Barammian Empire expands across the globe, Josserek Derrain, uncover agent for the freedom-loving Seafolk, must find a way to save his people from the Empire’s grasp. His best hope is an alliance with the Rogaviki, a wild and nomadic race whose women are rumored to cast an unbreakable spell on any man who dares seek them out. Between barbarians and aristocrats, spied and soldiers, the battle lines are drawn in the ultimate conflict to determine who will rule over...The Winter of the World.
The Avatar — (1978) Publisher: In the immeasurable past a mysterious alien race known as The Others left mankind a challenging legacy, a ‘gate’ to the unexplored reaches of the stars. Humanity has utilized the gate to painstakingly colonize the Phoebus star system but has left the rest of the galaxy unexplored. In the midst of turbulent political upheaval on Earth, the exploratory ship Emissary leaves through the gate on a voyage of discovery. When the Emissary returns ahead of schedule the Social Welfare Party on Earth impounds the ship and imprisons its crew – and forbids all future space exploration. Dan Broderson, an entrepreneur and adventurer, commandeers a commercial spaceship from his own company and travels to Earth to find the Emissary. He locates the ship, confounds its captors and rescues some of the explorers, including the first alien to visit the solar system. But Broderson has to flee through the gate unprepared, to become a wanderer among the stars in search of The Others. They alone have the knowledge that will enable his ship to return home.
The Merman’s Children — (1979) Publisher: In the waning years of the Middle Ages, before Christendom had completely scoured the world of magic, both Faery and Man lived on Europe’s shores. This is the story of those last days: of the halfling children of the Liri king, who were of both realms but chose the one we call the other; of how they schemed & fought for survival, hounded from the Baltic to the ice caves of Greenland to the Mediterranean coast; of how they loved & how they died. It is the epic master piece, the adventure at once erotic, violent and magnificently sad, that Poul Anderson has always wanted to write.
The Devil’s Game — (1980) Publisher: In the contest for souls, what disembodied voice whispers the rules of The Devil’s Game… Making a bargain with the devil to act as a liaison between the underworld and the human world, Sunderland Haverner is called upon by the mysterious Samael to bring seven specially chosen people to the Republic of Santa Ana.
Conan the Rebel — (1980) In the Conan series. Publisher: Conan and his beautiful companion Belit lead their pirate warriors in a desperate rebellion to free the people of Stygia from the forces of the reptile god Khemi.
New America — (1982) Publisher: The benevolent, paternalistic World State regarded the freedom-minded Jeffersonians as a minor embarrassment whose violent elimination would cause more disruption than their demise would merit. So both sides were happy when the chance came for voluntary exile to a distant planet. But two hundred years later the less benevolent descendant of the World State that had let them go was to decide that the cosmos was not big enough to hold both it and a free people
Maurai and Kith — (1982) Publisher: The Sky People have come to enforce their vision of civilization on the People of the Sea, who have created a society based on conservation and the integrity of life.
Orion Shall Rise — (1983) Publisher: After nuclear weapons ravaged the Earth, only Skyholm, a huge solar-powered station floating above Europe, remains in possession of high technology. But as Skyholm is seized by a religious faction, a young noble escapes to the ground below and joins a group who conspire to use the power of the atom, outlawed for centuries, to regain the lost heritage of space flight.
No Truce with Kings — (1986) Publisher: No Truce with Kings spins the tale of a uniquely feudal future America at war with itself. As the battles and intrigues multiply, the most perceptive generals begin to realize that their society is being socially engineered by a mysterious secret society. The Longest Voyage chronicles the adventures of an old-fashioned hero. A latter day Columbus, on a faraway planet, builds an ocean going ship and sails away in order to prove that his world is round. But the new civilizations he discovers on a distant shore worship something far more potent than his leaky wooden caravel-a crashed starship that holds the key to the entire future history of their race. Poul Anderson’s evocative stories draw freely upon the founding conventions of fantasy. Echoes of space operas and epic sagas resound in his work. In 1953 Anderson earned a degree in Physics, and exploded upon the literary scene in 1954 with the publication of 19 stories and 3 novels. His familiarity with Scandinavian languages, literature and traditions characterizes his stories, which have earned him 5 Hugo awards.
The Boat of a Million Years — (1989) Publisher: Others have written science fiction on the theme of immortality, but in The Boat of a Million Years, Poul Anderson made it his own. Early in human history, certain individuals were born who live on — unaging, undying — through the centuries and millennia. This story follows them over two thousand years, up to our time and beyond — to the promise of utopia, and to the challenge of the stars. A milestone in modern science fiction and a New York Times Notable Book when first published in 1989, this is one of a great writer’s finest works.
Inconstant Star — (1990) When humans and kzinti met, the kzinti introduced themselves with a scream-and-leap of joyous anticipation. But — surprise! — the monkey boys and girls of Planet Earth not only fought back but won! How, how could the Warrior Race have fallen prey to slinking cowardly (albeit clever) leaf-eaters who didn’t even possess weapons? After long hard thought the Kzin have come up with an answers: the first time they didn’t leap hard or fast enough! After all, no matter how clever the humans may be, they won’t stand a chance if it all happens so suddenly that monkey cleverness never has a chance to come into play. So when Eric Saxtorph and his crew stumble across the secret of the Great Attack the kzinti are more than a little upset. And when kzinti are upset, you know what they do…
War of the Gods — (1997) Publisher: The story of the great King Hadding is one of the darkest and most violent to come down to us from the old North. Hadding was raised by giants far from his rightful throng, as his father, a Danish King, was slain shortly after Hadding’s birth. But the times comes when Hadding feels he must reclaim his legitimate place in the land of the old North. He must endure ferocious battles, the charms of voluptuous Valkyries, and a War of the Gods to rival Armageddon.
Starfarers — (1998) Poul Anderson, one of science fiction’s most treasured visionaries, returns with a new masterpiece. Starfarers is the story of an expedition into the far reaches of the galaxy, where answers to mankind’s greatest questions await. The saga begins when evidence of an advanced civilization is discovered by SETI astronomers. “Trails” observed in the sky are thought to be from starships traveling at the speed of light, an enigma that spurs scientific minds until this breakthrough is achieved by mankind as well. An expedition is then mounted and an eclectic team of scientists chosen to journey into the sector where the intelligent life is allegedly located. But because the destination of the starship, Envoy, and her crew is 60,000 light-years away, the time required to reach the point of origin of the signals and return is 120,000 years — longer than Homo sapiens has been on Earth. And though the crew is ready to face the ramifications of such a trek, no one is prepared for what awaits them at the outer edge of the cosmos — or back at the planet they once called home. Starfarers is a story of patience and immediacy, but most of all of courage. It is a saga for anyone who has ever felt the emptiness of life on Earth and found the missing substance in the spaces between the stars. Poul Anderson’s latest is the story of those who see the future in a clear night’s sky and are ready to journey into it armed with both insight and passion.
Operation Luna — (1999) Publisher: Ginny Greylock and Steve Matuckek are partners on an Earth quite unlike our own. Ginny ia a licensed witch and Steve is an engineer and werewolf. He works on a spacecraft out in the Arizona desert and takes part in a project that soon discovers there is life on the moon.
Genesis — (2000) Publisher: Astronaut Christian Brannock achieves his dream and explore the stars through technology that enables a human personality to be uploaded into a computer, achieving a hybrid immortality. Brannock returns to Earth billions of years later to check on strange anomalies. He and another hybrid upload, Laurinda, investigate Gaia, the supermind dominating the planet.
Mother of Kings — (2001) Publisher: Blending characters historical and mythological, science fiction and fantasy grandmaster Poul Anderson has crafted a novel of magic, mystery and the might of ancient nations to rival Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. In the tenth century, during the violent end of the Age of the Vikings, Gunhild, the daughter of a Norse Chieftan, is sent away to learn the magic of a pair of Shamans. She learns her lessons well, and uses her power to summon her hearts desire, Eirlik Blood-Ax. Gunhild’s magic is a powerful compliment to Eirik’s strength, but it is not enough to save him from death at the hands of his vicious rivals. Still, the sons they had will each become kings, and Gunhild’s own struggles are far from over.
For Love and Glory — (2003) Hugo and Nebula award winner Anderson incorporates two stories he wrote for the Asimov’s Universe series into this absorbing posthumous novel, a fast-paced space opera that never lets the reader forget that aliens are alien. At a time when nearly immortal humans have colonized the galaxy, various space-faring species commingle freely and the residents of Earth have become as alien to other humans as true ETs, an astronomical event that may affect all existence is about to take place. Unfortunately, only one set of aliens knows what that event is and their ruling dictatorship is hell-bent on keeping it that way. Lissa Windholm, an Earth woman with a spirit of adventure men find attractive, is determined to uncover the mystery and share the knowledge with everyone. Lissa and her partner Karl, a tyrannosaurus-like scientist, make some startling archeological discoveries on the planet Jonna about beings known as the Forerunners, but a psychologically scarred starship captain and an impressively ancient and profit-minded human rogue have other plans for the relics. Moving from one key sequence to another, Anderson omits much of the buildup and back story customary for such epic-scale SF, yet his protagonists and the worlds they explore always feel rich and real.
Selected Story Collections by Poul Anderson:
Hoka — (1957-1983) Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. Publisher: The adventures of the Galaxy’s Zaniest Creatures… The incredible Hokas!