cover image GOING FOR INFINITY: A Literary Journey

GOING FOR INFINITY: A Literary Journey

Poul Anderson, . . Tor, $25.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0359-2

This posthumous retrospective anthology serves as a valentine to SFWA Grandmaster Anderson's legions of fans, and includes hard SF, first-contact stories, fantasy, detective fiction and sword and sorcery, sometimes melded together in surprising ways. Some tales (e.g., "Sam Hall") show their age but well reflect the writing popular at the time, while others, particularly those that play with fantasy elements (e.g., "The Saturn Game"), underscore Anderson's tendency toward densely written, emotive prose, with a dollop of soul-satisfying melodrama. Among samples from his many series are "The Master Key," a Nicholas van Rijn story from his Technic History series, and "The Problem of Pain," one of his tales of the Poleosotechnic League. Both highlight the great divide between human and alien, but of chief interest is not the misunderstanding between the two but rather the human response to loss. The bittersweet "Death and the Knight," part of the Time Patrol sequence, repeats a familiar Time Patrol plot (time traveler gone missing must be rescued), but with a twist. Classic must-read stories include "Goat Song" and "The Queen of Air and Darkness," both of which foreground faerie. And "Quest," in the sword-and-sorcery-meets-high-tech world of The High Crusade, posits an outer-space quest for the Holy Grail. Anderson provides brief headnotes for each story, full of anecdotes about fellow SF luminaries. This anthology represents the life's work of one of SF's most enduring and versatile writers. (June 20)

FYI:Anderson died July 31, 2001, at home in Orinda, Calif. In a writing career that spanned more than 50 years, he won three Nebula and seven Hugo awards.