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25 November 2016
Born of Scandinavian parents, Anderson lived in Denmark briefly before the outbreak of the Second World War. He was a SFWA Grand Master, winner of seven Hugo Awards and three Nebulas – and was Greg Bear‘s father-in-law!
Unlike most of his peers, Poul Anderson was equally at home with SF and Fantasy. Although much of his work falls unambiguously into the science fiction category – including major works, the Flandry and Psychotechnic League series – he received a World Fantasy Award nomination for A Midsummer Tempest and won the British Fantasy Award, for Hrolf Kraki’s Saga.
It is one of the oddities of the award process that his major works of fantasy were not recognised with wins or nominations by the various Fantasy Awards. SF-Fantasy fusion The High Crusade was shortlisted for the 1961 Hugo Award, but the seminal Norse fantasy The Broken Sword – hailed by no less than Michael Moorcock as one of the finest fantasies ever written – has troubled neither juries nor voters. It was, however, selected for inclusion in David Pringle‘s important Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels and was added to Gollancz’s re-launched Fantasy Masterworks series last year.
So, with a career spanning over half a century, where should one begin? With his Masterworks, of course: Tau Zero in the SF Masterworks, and The Broken Sword and Three Hearts and Three Lions in the Fantasy Masterworks.
There’s also one of Anderson’s own favourites, Brain Wave, a novel about the effects of the sudden increase in the intelligence of all life on Earth (yes, please!); knights-vs-aliens romp The High Crusade; the saga of immortals among us, The Boat of a Million Years and Time Patrol, a collection of Anderson’s stories following the guardians of the timeways: