marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Call Me Joe

Call Me Joe: The Collected Short Works of Poul Anderson volume 1

This one, unlike the latter ones, is all SF stories, with some poetry.Some are even in a series, the story of Wing Alak, Patrolman, who works to maintain peace under the rule that he can never cause the death of a sapient being.  (Lying like a rug, on the other hand, is allowed, so there is a great deal of propaganda about what they are capable of inflicting.)

Another is one of his Time Patrol stories, the first.  The others are all stand alones, including a futuristic copy of Sherlock Holmes, and two different stories about planets populated solely by geniuses, one distinctly grim, the other light.

I warn that it can be a little hard going because even when the story has a happy ending -- and he has an uncommonly high number of sad or bittersweet ones -- the tone can be a bit grim.  Not GRIMDARK, there's no massacre here.  But like J.R.R. Tolkien, he did much original research into Nordic myth.  Tolkien tempered his admiration of the Norse myths with his Christian belief that hope is a virtue, and despair a sin.  Anderson doesn't show the tempering.  It can be a bit much without spreading them out.

I was particularly taken with "Time Lag", in which a woman is taken captive after a retaliatory raid on her village that killed her husband.  The other planet that is out to conquer them was avenging their attempt to defend themselves.  Taken to their planet by their leader, the time lag of the title is time dilation, and despite it, she works for her planet.  There are also tales about a man trapped by a time machine that only goes forward, a ship that claims to come from another universe, and chess pieces that are intelligent and aware of the rules.
Tags: fiction reviews: sf, fiction reviews: short story collections, poul anderson

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