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Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Poul Anderson

By: dakine01 Saturday August 16, 2014 4:05 am
The Broken Sword

The Broken Sword

There are a lot of prolific Science-fiction and fantasy writers and Poul Anderson surely fit that description. From his wiki intro:

Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) 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.[2]

I have not read a lot of Anderson’s work but as I looked through the list of his books from Goodreads.com, I did recognize a number that I had picked up almost randomly over the years and read. This included some books and stories that he added to series that had been from other authors as well as parts of series or collaborations he had with others.

An example of the former is his book Conan the Rebel. Conan was started by Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp added both books and stories to the Conan universe. I do recall reading Anderson’s contribution to Conan’s ‘history’ as well.

Anderson wrote five different series by himself although not all of the books/stories within the series were closely related. Flandry was his largest series with Goodreads showing 21 total books for this series but some of these are re-issues, compilations, or foreign editions.

One of his books listed as part of the Operation Otherworld series is A Midsummer Tempest. This book is probably my favorite of Anderson’s work as it provides an interesting “what-if” scenario. The book is set during the English Civil War. The major character is Prince Rupert of the Rhine. The first hook is having trains/locomotives being invented during this time, leading to a totally different outcome to the war than what happened in our “real life.” Then it adds in the hook Shakespeare being a historian rather than a playwright and his characters being living creatures. As the Goodreads synipsis puts it:

“What if Shakespeare were a historian & his world a mortal one of men & elves? Somewhere, spinning thru another universe is a history almost like ours except for the result of a revolution or two & the earlier incidence of a few inventions. A prince called Hamlet has lived in Denmark. The English woods are full of Pucks, Titanias & Oberons. Cromwell is at the throat of King Charles, but locomotives rage thru the verdant countryside & observation balloons tower over battle lines.”

Other Anderson books I have read include Rogue Sword set during the waning days of the Roman Empire; Genesis which is a universe where the human mind can be melded to computers; and The Broken Sword using Thor and other characters from Norse Mythology.

Anderson worked mainly in the sci-fi field but he also wrote some fantasy in collaboration with his wife, Karen Anderson.

Anderson apparently embraced libertarianism, as have many other sci-fi writers. He also appears to have covered the Israeli/Palestine issue, directly and indirectly.

Besides his Hugo and Nebula awards, Anderson also won other awards and was a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

I think the biggest initial surprise I learned about Anderson was that he was a founding member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerer’s Guild of America and Society for Creative Anachronism.

Saturday Art: Influential Authors: Antonia Fraser

By: dakine01 Saturday August 9, 2014 4:05 am

I’m pretty sure it was the mid-70s when I first read something by Antonia Fraser. In fact, it was her biography of Cromwell that I grabbed off of my Mom’s bookshelf after having recently read a novel based on Charles II and the Restoration.

'Must You Go?' Lady Antonia Fraser

Lady Antonia Fraser

From her wiki intro:

Lady Antonia Margaret Caroline Fraser, DBE (born 27 August 1932), née Pakenham, is a British author of history, novels, biographies and detective fiction. She is the widow of the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Harold Pinter (1930–2008), and prior to his death was also known as Antonia Pinter.[2][3][4]

Lady Antonia has won awards for some of her non-fiction as well as fiction works. Much of her non-fiction work is on various members of English and other royal families. Kings and Queens of England, Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King, The Wives of Henry the VIII, and King James VI of Scotland and I of England for just a sample.

I have read both the bio of Cromwell I mentioned above and the bio of Charles II she wrote a few years later, Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration.

I think my favorite from Lady Antonia has to be The Warrior Queens. From the Goodreads.com synopsis:

Antonia Fraser’s Warrior Queens are those women who have both ruled and led in war. They include Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, Isabella of Spain, the Rani of Jhansi, and the formidable Queen Jinga of Angola. With Boadicea as the definitive example, her female champions from other ages and civilisations make a fascinating and awesome assembly. Yet if Boadicea’s apocryphal chariot has ensured her place in history, what are the myths that surround the others? And how different are the democratically elected if less regal warrior queens of recent times: Indira Ghandi and Golda Meir? This remarkable book is much more than a biographical selection. It examines how Antonia Fraser’s heroines have held and wrested the reins of power from their (consistently male) adversaries.

I guess to counteract the overall seriousness of her non-fiction works, Lady Antonia has also written a series of mystery/detective books and short stories with the lead character being Jemima Shore. Again from Goodreads.com:

Jemima Shore is an investigative reporter and host of a television show. Visit Cinemystery for more information about the movie made from Quiet as a Nun.

As I look through the list of Jemima Shore mysteries, none of the titles look familiar to me but I know I have read stories with her. Then I noticed Women of Mystery, More Women of Mystery, and Women of Mystery III. She is also a contributor to Best of Ellery Queen, Under the Gun, and Murder Most Divine: Ecclesiastical Tales of Unholy Crimes.

Besides her Jemima Shore mysteries, Lady Antonia has also written King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table which I also read in the mid-70s and Robin Hood which is now on my “to read” list.

Lady Antonia Fraser’s IMDB page only shows five writing credits, mostly for television based on Jemima Shore.