The bestselling author of such classic novels as Brain Wave and The Boat of a Million Years , Poul Anderson won just about every award the science fiction and fantasy field has to offer. He has won multiple Hugos and Nebulas, the John W. Campbell Award, The Locus Poll Award, the Skylark Award, and the SFWA Grandmaster Award for Lifetime Achievement. His recent books include Harvest of Stars, The Stars are also On Fire, Operation Chaos, Operation Luna, Genesis, Mother of Kings, and Going for Infinity , a collection and retrospective of his life's work. Poul Anderson lived in Orinda, California where he passed away in 2001.
Poul William 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, taking office in 1972. He was a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America, a loose-knit group of Heroic Fantasy authors founded in the 1960s, some of whose works were anthologized in Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! anthologies. He was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his 1985 novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls to Anderson and eight of the other members of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy.
Poul Anderson died of cancer on July 31, 2001, after a month in the hospital. Several of his novels were published posthumously.
Back in the 1950s, Poul Anderson developed two story lines: one a far after post-apocalyptic idea where the next great civilization to rise from the ashes of the old would come from the western Pacific; and the other storyline was a development from a generational ship idea, and along the lines of his classic novel Tau Zero.
The Maurai were centered around the western Pacific and are the inheritors of the planet centuries after nuclear war had ended civilization as we know it know. Though peoples and even organized socio-political institutions survived from where they are today, the hard scrabble survivors of western civilization are only a pale vestige of what they had been. This reality is also maintained by a vigilant Mauraian Federation that intends for humanity’s next great age to avoid the wasteful and self-destructive trends of the past. Ecologically and biologically responsible, resourceful and innovative, the Maurai represent one way in which Anderson was especially visionary, as these later day islanders resemble Greenpeace with muscle … and cool tribal tattoos. This storyline would be expounded upon in 1984 with Anderson’s release of Orion Shall Rise, a full-length novel about the Maurai Federation.
The Kith are a group of space faring families who have somewhat accidentally come to be a separate race of humanity. Anderson, like several other science fiction writers from the 50s and 60s explored the concept that when a space ship nears light speed travel, the inhabitants of the ship will experience one time, while the folks on Earth experience a much greater passage. For instance, a traveller on a rocket that goes to a distant solar system traveling at close to light speed will experience ten years of travel. When he gets back to earth, though, that same corresponding voyage has lasted well over a century. His parents and friends are long dead, he is a fading memory and the world has gone on without him. So, the spacers became a group without a time and they tended to stay with themselves.
Maurai & Kith, published in 1982, collects previously published short stories about these two story-lines. A reader will appreciate Anderson’s astute observations regarding social, economic and political climates and the differing group dynamics within each story line. A recurring theme in Anderson’s work is to show how humanity will change centuries and even millennia down the road and this collection exemplifies that visionary quality of his writing.
Perhaps most poignant is the short story “Ghetto”, a Kith story where Anderson equates an isolated Kith settlement to a Jewish village, and describes how because they are different, the present day powers that be hate and mistrust them. This comparison fits well with the diaspora of the Kith to distant stars, keeping there own culture virtually unchanged as the styles and trends of modern day Earth come and go, passing away and growing up again in between space trips. Anderson no doubt chuckled to himself when a Kithman, reflecting on how poisonous the local politics has become, idly comments that these times will only last another century or two.
Anderson was always one to take the long way home.
This is a collection of 5 short stories, the first three about the Maurai, and the last two about the Kith.
I was already acquainted with the Maurai from my reading of the novel Orion Shall Rise (which incidentally is one of the best Sci Fi books I've ever read), and these short stories complement and add color to what I already knew about the Maurai from that piece of long fiction. My rating for them would be 4, collectively speaking.
The final 2 stories didn't fare so well: I found them clichéd, melodramatic and uninteresting. Perhaps it's because they were my first contact with the Kith (haven't met them in my reading of the author's works until now) so they didn't have as rich a background for my mind to draw on as ones about the Maurai, but I don't think so. My rating for these is 1.5, but weighting they're just two stories, my rating for the entire book comes to a 3.
Anyway, if you're not a completist like me and don't specially care about the Kith, I'd suggest you read just the ones about the Maurai and call it done; you won't be missing much if anything.
This book collects several of Poul Anderson's short stories (written in the 1950s and 1960s) about a past nuclear apocalyptic culture ... with a dominant Polynesian culture and eventually a starfaring culture. There are some highpoints and some awkward writing, but since it's Poul Anderson, there's a lot of good storytelling. You can see an emerging environmental consciousness --in both Anderson and in the motives of the characters--and I like that. In one of the stories, the Polynesian culture suppresses a small city state which is moving toward nuclear energy, even though that city state is much more likeable than a country that they are have problems with. I admire Anderson for writing stories which reveal difficult choices ... that makes us think long after we have finished those stories.
The book would have been better with some extensive rewriting, which might have made the stories flow better, from one story into another. Overall, it's a good book to see what interesting science fiction was like in the 1950s and 1960s, but not one of Anderson's stronger efforts.
Excellent use of a time jumping storyline. Poul never loses track of his narrative and his protagonists just become more and more interesting as they become more and more powerful. Would have given it 3 and 1/2.