Poul Anderson

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Anderson in 1985

Poul William Anderson (November 25, 1926July 31, 2001) was a prominent American science fiction author who wrote during a Golden Age of the genre. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy.


Short fiction[edit]

  • What, after all, what is the most logical way for superman to evolve? Not in one fantastic mutation of unknown thousands of genes all working to produce the same results: the very formulation was an insult to the laws of probability. No, homo superior should have evolved from homo sapiens in the same way that other species had evolved from a parent stock—by isolation of a few not very different mutations, selection and intensification of the new traits, new mutations gradually appearing and being lost if they were unfavorable, being incorporated if they gave some advantage.
    • Incomplete Superman, Future, March 1951, p. 24
  • You know what they say about bold spacemen never becoming old spacemen.
    • "Garden in the Void" (1952)
  • A man isn't really alive till he has something bigger than himself and his own little happiness, for which he'd gladly die.
    • "Ghetto" (1954)
  • I was not speaking of minor ripples in the mainstream of history—certainly those are ruled by chance. But the broad current moves quite inexorably, I assure you.
    • Cold Victory, in Scithers & Schweitzer (eds.) Another Round at the Spaceport Bar, p. 181. Originally appeared in Venture Science Fiction, May 1957
  • It was true. Men died and civilization died, but before they died they lived. It was not altogether futile.
    • Cold Victory, in Scithers & Schweitzer (eds.) Another Round at the Spaceport Bar, p. 181. Originally appeared in Venture Science Fiction, May 1957
  • Time is the bridge that always burns behind us.
  • Collectively as well as individually, man is never going to find perfection. Some societies he builds may work better, for the majority anyhow, than others. But all of them will have their built-in drawbacks. Their affairs will always be conducted with a high irreducible minimum of inefficiency. Read: sentimentalism, magical thinking, shortsightedness, vanity, greed, envy, hate, fear – not because we are evil but because we are mortal.
    • Comment on Last of the Deliverers, in Harry Harrison (ed.), SF: Author’s Choice, (1968), p. 44
  • We live with our archetypes, but can we live in them?
    • "The Fatal Fulfillment" (Short Story), March 1970. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Aghast, Tauno exclaimed, “but this is frightful!”
    “Oh? Many would count it glorious good fortune.”
    His eye stabbed at hers. “Would you?”
    “Well… No.”
    “Locked among bleak brick walls for all her days; shorn, harshly clad, ill-fed, droning through her nose at God while letting wither that which God put between her legs; never to know love, children about her, the growth of home and kin, or even wanderings under apple trees in blossom time.…”
    “Tauno, it is the way to eternal bliss.”
    “Hm. Rather would I have my bliss now, and then the dark. You, too—in your heart—not so?—whether or not you have said you mean to repent on your deathbed. Your Christian Heaven seems to me a shabby place to spend forever.”
    • The Merman's Children, in Lin Carter (ed.) Flashing Swords! 1 (1973), mass market paperback edition published by Dell Books (Catalogue number 2640), p. 149 (the discussion is of a girl going into a convent)
  • They tell me our kind was friendly with the old gods, and with older gods before them. Yet never have we made offering or worship. I’ve tried and failed to understand such things. Does a god need flesh or gold? Does it matter to him how you live? Does it swerve him if you grovel and whimper? Does he care whether you care about him?
    • The Merman's Children, p. 165
  • A greedy man is an unlucky man.
    • The Merman's Children, p. 182
  • Timidity can be as dangerous as rashness.
    • "The Saturn Game" (1981)

The Book of Poul Anderson (1975)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Daw (UW1176), first printing

Stories originally published between 1947 and 1974. See here for original publication details

  • “Lord, that war was crazy!”
    “All wars are,” said Drummond dispassionately. “but technology advanced to the point of giving us a knife to cut our throats with. Before that, we were just beating our heads against the wall. Robinson, we can’t go back to the old ways. We’ve got to start on a new track—a track of sanity.”
    • Tomorrow's Children (p. 19)
  • No, the only way to sanity—to survival—is to abandon class prejudice and race hate altogether, and work as individuals. We’re all...well, Earthlings, and subclassification is deadly. We all have to live together, and might as well make the best of it.
    • Tomorrow's Children (p. 30)
  • “You were right. We should never have created science. It brought the twilight of the race.”
    “I never said that. The race brought its own destruction, through misuse of science. Our culture was scientific anyway, in all except its psychological basis. It’s up to us to take that last and hardest step. If we do, the race may yet survive.”
    • Tomorrow's Children (p. 34)
  • One light-year is not much as galactic distances go. You could walk it in about 270 million years, beginning at the middle of the Permian Era, when dinosaurs belonged to the remote future, and continuing to the present day.
    • The Queen of Air and Darkness (p. 43)
  • “Don’t talk, you,” he said. “It hurts my ears. Nor think; that hurts your head.’”
    • The Queen of Air and Darkness (p. 52)
  • When facts are insufficient, theorizing is ridiculous at best, misleading at worst.
    • The Queen of Air and Darkness (p. 53)
  • One can surrender one’s rational will to beliefs or habits as easily as to individuals, for essentially the same reasons, and with essentially the same results. Ideas have a mystery and power of their own.
    • Patrick L. McGuire, Her Strong Enchantments Failing (p. 93; this work is an essay about Anderson's story The Queen of Air and Darkness).
  • Mystery is in a way the guarantee of the boundlessness of the might of the ruler: power bound to reason must always have limitations, great though it may be.
    • Patrick L. McGuire, Her Strong Enchantments Failing (p. 94)
  • Anderson demonstrates that if one accepts a sham mystery as real, one has stopped or strayed in the search for truth, and truth has survival value.
    • Patrick L. McGuire, Her Strong Enchantments Failing (p. 94)
  • Freedom brings responsibility and often guilt. It may indeed provide a deeper satisfaction and a richer life, but the evaluation of such rewards is a distressingly subjective process. Perhaps no argument in favor of liberty can satisfy the intellect; perhaps the best we can hope for is a shared emotional conviction.
    • Patrick L. McGuire, Her Strong Enchantments Failing (p. 95)
  • Let’s stop making wild guesses and start gathering data.
    • Epilogue (p. 122)
  • Iskilip is senile, more than half converted to his own artificial creed. He was mumbling about prophecies Val Nira made long ago, true prophecies. Bah! Tricks of memory and wishfulness.
    • The Longest Voyage (p. 171)
  • You can’t be a telepath and remain any kind of prude. People’s lives were their own business, if they didn’t hurt anyone else too badly.
    • Journey’s End (p. 205)
  • So why was a civilian going armed? It bespoke a degree of lawlessness that fitted ill with a technological society.
    • Day of Burning (p. 256)

Time Patrol[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market omnibus paperback edition published by Baen ISBN 978-1-4165-0935-6, second printing (December 2010)

Stories originally published between 1955 and 1995. See here for original publication details

  • I think most human misery is due to well-meaning fanatics like him.
    • Time Patrol (p. 42)
  • For himself, he had never thought it would be this bad. He had stopped remembering her, except maybe ten times a day, but now she came to him and the forgetting would have to be done all over again.
    • Brave To Be a King (p. 63)
  • Man does not live by bread alone, nor guns, paperwork, theses, naked practicalities.
    • Gibraltar Falls (p. 118)
  • Everard was not so sure; he had seen enough human misery in all the ages. You got case-hardened after a while, but down underneath, when a peasant stared at you with sick brutalized eyes, or a soldier screamed with a pike through him, or a city went up in radioactive flame, something wept. He could understand the fanatics who had tried to change events. It was only that their work was so unlikely to make anything better...
    • Delenda Est (p. 177)
  • He was no respecter of windy theories about inborn racial traits, but there was something to be said for traditions so ancient as to be unconscious and ineradicable.
    • Delenda Est (p. 192)
  • “You are very honest about the situation of your own country.”
    Deirdre said roughly, “Most of us won’t admit it, but I think it best to look truth in the eyes.”
    • Delenda Est (pp. 202-203)
  • Everard sighed, switched off his conscience, and began lying.
    • Delenda Est (p. 203)
  • Say on. If you are a rogue, you are at least an interesting one.
    • Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks (p. 286)
  • Like sensible people throughout history, the average Phoenician wanted as little to do with his government as possible.
    • Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks (p. 313)
  • I’m still spry, but I feel the teeth gnawing, and believe me, my friends, it was better to be young.
    • Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks (p. 314)
  • We must understand that what Pascal said is true of every human being in the whole of space-time, ourselves included—“The last act is tragic, however pleasant all the comedy of the other acts. A little earth on our heads, and all is done with forever.”—understand it in our bones, so that we can live with it calmly if not serenely.
    • The Sorrow of Odin the Goth (p. 343)
  • What I’m trying to make you know, not in your forebrain but in your marrow, is that reality never conforms very well to the textbooks, and sometimes it doesn’t conform at all.
    • The Sorrow of Odin the Goth (p. 387)
  • Here was more than a question of law; it was a matter of whose will should prevail.
    • The Sorrow of Odin the Goth (p. 433)
  • Know that against time the gods themselves are powerless.
    • The Sorrow of Odin the Goth (p. 457)
  • I cannot believe you harbor any illusions about the barbarians being nature’s noblemen. I soon lost mine. They were every bit as ruthless. They were simply less efficient.
    • Star of the Sea (p. 523)
  • Sincerity is the most overrated virtue in the catalogue.
    • Star of the Sea (p. 637)
  • What I want is to commune with the land. In company I couldn’t admit that. It’d sound too pompous, as though I were from Greenpeace or the People’s Republic of Berkeley.
    • The Year of the Ransom (p. 643)
  • Inland, all except criminals lived in a tightly pulled net of regulations, duties, social standing, tax collection, expectations of how to act and speak and think—“sort of like late twentieth-century USA” Everard grumbled to himself.
    • Death and the Knight (p. 752)

Vault of the Ages (1952)[edit]

Page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Berkley Books, ISBN 0-425-04336-3, October 1978, 2nd printing
  • There was a huge sadness in it—the little men of today, gnawing apart the mighty works they no longer understood. In a few hundred years, or a few thousand, what did it matter? Nothing would be left, nothing but rubble and waving grass and the wild dogs howling where men had once lived.
    • Chapter 3, “The Wisdom of the Ancients” (p. 20)
  • “So this,” he said, “is the excitement and glory of war! I’ll never believe a ballad singer again.”
    • Chapter 9, “The Broken Ban” (p. 74)
  • “I wonder if there are any gods at all—if they aren’t just another story.”
    Tom and Owl shrank from him. But no lightning struck.
    • Chapter 9, “The Broken Ban” (p. 78)
  • What was right? A man should live justly—but too often it was hard to say which was the road of justice. At any rate, this war was not a struggle of evil against good, black against white; it was a fight between many human beings, none of whom was wholly bad or wholly good.
    • Chapter 12, “Ride to Dalestown!” (p. 99)
  • His will grew tight again. This was no age for weaklings. You had to do whatever seemed best, without letting gods or men or the lower devils deter you.
    • Chapter 15, “The Friendless Ones” (p. 125)
  • A world of life and mystery, a world of splendor and striving and wistful beauty. Yes, it was good to live, and even if he was now to join the sun in an endless night, he was glad of what he had been given.
    • Chapter 19, “The Last Battle” (p. 149)
  • “Peace,” he added, “is kept by the good will and strength of the peaceful.”
    • Chapter 20, “Twilight of the Gods” (p. 160)

Brain Wave (1954)[edit]

Page numbers from the mass market paperback first edition published by Ballantine Books (#B80)
  • Keep on thinking. Keep your thinking close to the ground, where it belongs. Don’t ever trade your liberty for another man’s offer to do your thinking and make your mistakes for you.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 25)
  • And ninety-nine percent of the human race, no matter how smart they are, will do the convenient thing instead of the wise thing, and kid themselves into thinking they can somehow escape the consequences. We’re just built that way.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 28)
  • The end of the world—was the sky going to open up, would the angels pour down the vials of wrath on a shaking land, and would God appear to judge the sons of men? He listened for the noise of great galloping hoofs, but there was only the wind in the trees.
    That was the worst of it. The sky didn’t care. The Earth went on turning through an endlessness of dark and silence, and what happened in the thin scum seething over its crust didn’t matter.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 40)
  • A little careful pushing, and they’ll bury the hatchet all right—in each other.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 76)
  • The city was breaking state and national laws every day—it had to—and the governor was outraged. He wanted to bring the whole state back under his own authority. It wasn’t an unreasonable wish, but the times weren’t ripe; and when they eventually were, the old forms of government would be no more important than the difference between Homoousian and Homoiousian. But it was going to take a lot of argument to convince the Albany man of that.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 76)
  • Too far a retreat from reality is insanity.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 82)
  • “You have to have some kind of morality,” he said.
    “Sure. Like you have to have motives for doing anything at all. Still, I think we’re beyond that smug sort of code which proclaimed crusades and burned heretics and threw dissenters into concentration camps. We need more personal and less public honor.”
    • Chapter 20 (p. 152)

The Broken Sword (1954)[edit]

Page numbers from the 1971 mass market paperback revised edition published by Del Rey (sixth printing, August 1983, Ballantine 31171)
  • Hurry and hurry, autumn leaves hurrying on the rainy wind, snow hurrying out of the sky, life hurrying to death, gods hurrying to oblivion.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 9)
  • There are three Powers in the world which not gods nor demons nor men can stay, against which no magic shall prevail and no might shall stand, and they are the White Christ, Time, and Love.
    From the first you may await only thwarting of your desire, and you must be careful that He and His in no way enter the struggle. This you can do by remembering that Heaven leaves lesser beings their free will, and thus does not force them into its own ways; even the miracles have done no more than leave open a possibility to men.
    The second, which has more names than I myself—Fate, Destiny, Law, Wyrd, the Norns, Necessity, Brahm, and others beyond counting—is not to be appealed to, for it does not hear. Nor can you hope to understand how it exists together with the freedom whereof I spoke, any more than you can understand how there are both old gods and new. But for the wreaking of the greatest spells, you must ponder on this until you know in your inmost being that truth is a thing which bears as many shapes as there are minds which strive to see it.
    And the third of the Powers is a mortal thing, therefore it can harm as well as help, and this is the one you must use.
    • Chapter 6 (pp. 26-27)
  • Men, whose span is cruelly short, rush nonetheless to death in their youth as to a maiden’s arms.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 55)
  • For a space he faltered, when Goltan fell with a spear through him. “Now I am one friend poorer,” he said, “and that is a wealth not gained back.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 65)
  • You should pay no heed to what some yokel priest has prated of. What does he know?
    • Chapter 11 (p. 70)
  • Over unforced love, the gods themselves had no might.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 76)
  • I say that a God who would come between two who have been to each other what we have been, is not one I would heed.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 141)
  • “I think you look on death as your friend,” she murmured. “That is a strange friend for a young man to have.”
    “The only faithful friend in this world,” he said. “Death is always sure to be at your side.”
    • Chapter 21 (p. 148)
  • ’Tis colder outside than a well-born maiden’s heart.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 171)
  • She rarely saw priest—and knowing her heart sinned, was glad of that. Dreary was a church after the woodlands and hills and sounding sea. She still loved God—and was not the earth His work, and a church only man’s?—but she could not bring herself to call on Him very often.
    • Chapter 24 (p. 174)
  • Better a life like a falling star, bright across the dark, than a deathlessness which can see naught above or beyond itself.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 206)
    • Note: In the first edition of the book, this quote reads: Better a life like a falling star, brief and bright across the dark, than the long, long waiting of the immortals, loveless and cheerlessly wise.

The Long Way Home (1955)[edit]

Originally serialized in 1955 in Astounding and published in a truncated version in 1958 under the title No World of Their Own. The Ace edition was restored to its original form by the author.
Page numbers from the revised mass market paperback edition published in 1978 by Ace Books, ISBN 0-441-48924-9, 5th printing (December 1981)
  • I was trying to avoid the cliché all too common in science fiction, even today, of a whole population feeling itself oppressed and waiting only for a leader to rise in a body against its overlords. No government for which that was actually the case could last a minute. There must always be a majority who have some stake in things as they are, whether that stake consist of wealth and power or simply of law, order, and predictability. Moreover, most people cannot really imagine any system working which is very different from the one they are used to. Hence they find rationalizations for it. Even slaves often do this.
    • Introduction (pp. v-vi)
  • Do you think maybe I want power for myself? That’s for fools who want to command other fools.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 57)
  • Chanthavar said that the Egyptian pyramids, part of the Sphinx, traces of buried cities, a couple of ruined dams in America and Russia, some hydrogen-bomb craters, were still around, otherwise nothing earlier than the Thirty-fifth century. Time went on, relentlessly, and one by one the proud works of man were lost.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 75)
  • It isn’t possible to have equality. It’s been tried again and again in history, giving everybody a vote, and it’s always failed—always, in a few generations, the worse politicians drove out the better. Because by definition, half the people always have below-average intelligence; and the average is not high.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 78)
  • I am a peaceful man, captain. I rely more on my cerebral cortex than my guns.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 160)
  • For the ordinary man, instability—change—means dislocation, war, uncertainty, misery, and death.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 198)
  • It sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? One little man thinking he can change history all by his lonesome. A lot of trouble has been caused by that delusion.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 219)

The Enemy Stars (1959)[edit]

Nominated for the 1959 Hugo Award. Page numbers from the revised mass market paperback edition published in 1979 by Berkley Books, ISBN# 0425-03943-9
  • People usually take for granted that the way things are is the way things must be.
    • Foreward (p. v)
  • Then they died.
    And other men came after them. Wars flamed up and burned out; the howling peoples dwelt in smashed cities and kindled their fires with books.
    • Prologue (p. 1)
  • Her rank was higher than his, so high that no one in her family worked productively.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 4)
  • Winter lay among the Outer Hebrides. Day was a sullen glimmer between two darknesses, often smothered in snow. When it did not fling itself upon the rocks and burst in freezing spume, the North Atlantic rolled in heavy and gnawing. There was no real horizon; leaden waves met leaden sky and misty leaden light hid the seam.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 8)
  • I do not think the coerced mind ever really learns an art.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 20)
  • Pioneering is an unlimited chance to become the biggest frog, provided the puddle is small enough.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 31)
  • Hard to say whether personal immortality would be a good thing or not. Not for the masses, surely! Too many of them as it was. But a select few, like Terangi Maclaren—or was it worth the trouble? Even given boats, chess, music, the No Drama, beautiful women and beautiful spectroscopes, life could get heavy.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 36)
  • Life was too short for anything but amusement at the human race.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 38)
  • “Do you know,” said Maclaren, “there is one sin which is punished with unfailing certainty, and must therefore be the deadliest sin in all time. Stupidity.”
    • Chapter 8 (pp. 62-63)
  • I’ll give you one thing to mull over, though. If the body’s such a valueless piece of pork, and we’ll all meet each other in the sweet bye and bye, and so on, why’re you busting every gut you own to get back to your wife?
    • Chapter 11 (p. 87)
  • Li-Tsung of Krasna would have told him to live at all costs, sacrifice all the others, to save himself for his planet and the Fellowship. But there were limits. You didn’t have to accept Dave’s Calvinism—though its unmerciful God seemed very near this dead star—to swallow the truth that some things were more important than survival. Than even the survival of a cause.
    Maybe I’m trying to find out what those things are, he thought confusedly.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 92)
  • You can have more adventure in an hour’s walk through a forest than in a year on a spaceship.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 103)
  • I’m afraid I’m not a convert or anything. I still see the same blind cosmos governed by the same blind laws. But suddenly it matters. It matters terribly, and means something. What, I haven’t figured out yet. I probably never will. But I have a reason for living, or for dying if need be. Maybe that’s the whole purpose of life: purpose itself. I can’t say. But I expect to enjoy the world a lot more.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 129)
  • “At least we can put a little sense into life.”
    “I don’t know whether we do or whether we find what was always there,” he replied. “Nor do I care greatly. To me, the important thing is that the purpose—order, beauty, spirit, whatever you want to call it—does exist.”
    • Chapter 18 (p. 148)
  • “Your son was in your own tradition.”
    “Better, I hope,” said the old man. “There would be little sense to existence, did boys have no chance to be more than their fathers.”
    • Chapter 18 (p. 150)

The High Crusade (1960)[edit]

Nominated for the 1961 Hugo Award. Page number from the mass market paperback edition published by Baen Books
  • On our Earth, we’ve perforce learned all the knavery there is to know.
    • p. 131

Three Hearts and Three Lions (1961)[edit]

Expanded from the 1953 novella, which was nominated for the Hugo Award. Page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Baen Books
  • It was lonely, not even knowing yourself.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 41)
  • “You are much too kind,” said Holger, overwhelmed.
    “Nay.” Alfric waved his hand. “You mortals know not how tedious undying life can become, and how gladly a challenge such as this is greeted. ’Tis I should thank you.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 64)
  • Holger wished he had read the old tales more closely; he had only a dim childhood recollection of them.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 88)
  • They were not plagued that night, which Hugi said was without doubt because something worse was being prepared. Holger was inclined to share the dwarf’s pessimism.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 101)
  • As evil waxes, the very men who stand for good will in their fear use ever worse means o’ fighting, and thereby give evil a free beachhead.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 102)
  • “But your sign says you can conjure up ever-filled purses,” Holger began.
    “Advertising,” Martinus admitted. “Corroborative detail intended to lend artistic verisimilitude.”
    • Chapter 17 (p. 162)
  • You cannot imagine how wearisome existence grows, alone and immortal.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 177)

After Doomsday (1962)[edit]

  • And never forget: any planet is a world, as complex and mysterious in its own right, as full of its patterns and contradictions and histories, as Earth ever was.

The Corridors of Time (1965)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Berkley, ISBN 0-425-03659-6, February 1978
  • Why do people in this age think their own impoverished lives must be the norm of the universe?
    • Chapter 2 (p. 9)
  • At most, the gods gave only a little happiness; the rest was merely existence.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 42)
  • “Destiny,” said John. “The ghastliest word a man can speak.”
    • Chapter 16 (p. 130)
  • “I think,” said John, “you’d do well to remember what one of our philosophers wrote. All evil is a good become cancerous.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 131)

The Star Fox (1965)[edit]

Nominated for the 1965 Nebula Award. All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition (third printing) published by Signet Books (July 1971; T4763)
  • “My mother taught me a Spanish saying,” he remarked, “that it takes four men to make a salad: a spendthrift for the oil, a philosopher for the seasonings, a miser for the vinegar, and a madman for the tossing.”
    • Section 1 “Marque and Reprisal”, Chapter V (pp. 37-38)
  • Heim ignored the mob scene on the 3V, rested his eyes on the cold serenity of the Milky Way and thought that this, at least, would endure.
    • Section 1 “Marque and Reprisal”, Chapter IX (p. 69)
  • Another irritating thing about Naqsans was their habit of solemnly repeating the obvious. In that respect they were almost as bad as humans.
    • Section 2 “Arsenal Port”, Chapter III (p. 90)
  • He’d seen too often how little of the universe is designed for man to neglect any safety measure.
    • Section 2 “Arsenal Port”, Chapter III (p. 93)
  • The last thing any sane person wants is a jihad.
    • Section 2 “Arsenal Port”, Chapter VIII (p. 133)
  • There really wasn’t much in a man’s life that mattered. But those few things mattered terribly.
    • Section 3 “Admiralty”, Chapter IX (p. 200)
  • Life isn’t a fairy tale; the knight who kills the dragon doesn’t necessarily get the princess. So what? Who’d want to live in a cosmos less rich and various than the real one?
    • Section 3 “Admiralty”, Chapter X (p. 207)

Tau Zero (1970)[edit]

Nominated for the 1971 Hugo Award. All page numbers from the first mass market paperback edition published by Lancer Books (June 1971; #75185)
  • “Are you that afraid to die?”
    “No. I simply like to live.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 78)
  • What’s to explain? I’ve scant use for those types whose chief interest is their grubby little personal neuroses. Not in a universe as rich as this.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 80)

Ensign Flandry (1966)[edit]

  • We're mortal - which is to say, we're ignorant, stupid, and sinful - but those are only handicaps. Our pride is that nevertheless, now and then, we do our best. A few times we succeed. What more dare we ask for?

There Will Be Time (1972)[edit]

Nominated for the 1973 Hugo Award. All page numbers from the first mass market paperback edition published by Signet Books (March 1973; #Q5401)
  • Don’t get me wrong. These people are mine. I like and in many ways admire them. They’re the salt of the earth. It’s simply that I want other condiments too.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 10)
  • Bombing: A method of warfare which delivers high explosives from the air, condemned because of its effects upon women, children, the aged, the sick, and other non-combatants, unless these happen to have resided in Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Osaka, etc., though not Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Cf. missile.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 27)
  • Missile: A self-contained device which delivers high explosives from the air, condemned because of its effects upon women, children, the aged, the sick, and other non-combatants, unless these happen to have resided in Saigon, Da Nang, Hué, etc. Cf. bombing.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 30)
  • One man, one vote: A legal doctrine requiring that, from time to time, old gerrymanders be replaced with new ones. The object of this is the achievement of genuine democracy.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 30)
  • History does not tend to the better, Doc, it does not, it does not. We imagine so because events have produced our glorious selves. Think, however. Put aside the romantic legends and look at the facts. The average Frenchman in 1800 was no more unfree than the average Englishman. The French Empire could have brought Europe together, and could have been liberalized from within, and there might have been no World War I in which Western civilization cut its own throat. Because that’s what’s happened, you know. We’re still busy bleeding to death, but we haven’t far to go now.
    • Chapter 5 (pp. 50-51)
  • As related, the bank was one of those eastern ones, with Roman pillars and cathedral dimness and, I suspect, a piece of Plymouth Rock in a reliquary.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 52)
  • “We need a reserve of life, every kind of life,” he explained. “Today for the spirit—a glimpse of space and green. Tomorrow for survival, flat-out survival.”
    • Chapter 5 (p. 53)
  • “Yeah. ‘Environment’ was very big for a while. Ecology Now stickers on the windshields of cars belonging to hairy young men—cars which dripped oil wherever they parked and took off in clouds of smoke thicker than your pipe can produce...Before long, the fashionable cause was something else, I forget what. Anyhow, that whole phase—the wave after wave of causes—passed away. People completely stopped caring...
    I feel a moral certainty that a large part of the disaster grew from this particular country, the world’s most powerful, the vanguard country for things both good and ill...never really trying to meet the responsibilities of power.
    We’ll make halfhearted attempts to stop some enemies in Asia, and because the attempts are halfhearted we’ll piss away human lives—on both sides—and treasure—to no purpose. Hoping to placate the implacable, we’ll estrange our last few friends. Men elected to national office will solemnly identify inflation with rising prices, which is like identifying red spots with the measles virus, and slap on wage and price controls, which is like papering the cracks in a house whose foundations are sliding away. So economic collapse brings international impotence...As for our foolish little attempts to balance what we drain from the environment against what we put back—well, I mentioned that car carrying the ecology sticker.
    At first Americans will go on an orgy of guilt. Later they’ll feel inadequate. Finally they’ll turn apathetic. After all, they’ll be able to buy any anodyne, any pseudo-existence they want.”
    • Chapter 5 (pp. 53-54)
  • The air was cold and smelled of earth. Birds twittered. “Beyond one or two hundred years back,” Havig once said to me, “the daytime sky is always full of wings.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 60)
  • “If anything does change man,” he said, “it’s science and technology. Just think about the fact—while it lasts—that parents need not take for granted some of their babies will die. You get a completely different concept of what a child is.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 60)
  • “I really liked that girl.”
    “Not loved, evidently,” I observed.
    “N-n-no. I supposed not. Though what is love, anyway? Doesn’t it have so infinitely many kinds and degrees and mutations and quantum jumps that— Never mind.”
    • Chapter 8 (p. 83)
  • A cultured, sensitive, observant man is a pleasure to be with in any age.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 97)
  • His conscience must have gotten tired of nagging him and delivered an ultimatum.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 104)
  • Mortal combat corrupts, and war corrupts absolutely.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 107)
  • “Do you actually hope to convert the whole of mankind?”
    “Belay that! Anyhow, if you mean, Do we hope to make everybody into copies of us? The answer is, No. Mind, I’m not in Parliament or Admiralty, but I follow debates and I read the philosophers. One trouble with the old machine culture was that, by its nature, it did force people to become more and more alike. Not only did this fail in the end—disastrously—but to the extent it succeeded, it was a worse disaster.” Lohannaso smote the rail with a mighty fist. “Damnation, Thomas! We need all the diversity, all the assorted ways of living and looking and thinking, we can get!”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 119)
  • The old man murmured: “Aye, we draw to an end. Dying hurts. Nonetheless the forefathers were wise who in their myths made Nan coequal with Lesu. A thing which endured forever would become unendurable. Death opens a way, for peoples as well as for people.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 124)
  • Be calm. A man can do but little. Enough if that little be right.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 126)
  • Did ignorance save his freedom, or merely his illusion of freedom?
    • Chapter 12 (p. 130)
  • Above everything else, perhaps, was today’s concept of working together. I don’t mean its totalitarian version, for which Jack Havig had total loathing, or that “togetherness,” be it in a corporation or a commune, which he despised. I mean an enlightened pragmatism that rejects self-appointed aristocrats, does not believe received doctrine is necessarily true, stands ready to hear and weigh what anyone has to offer, and maintains well-developed channels to carry all ideas to the leadership and back again.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 155)
  • Look, these were none of them supermen. In fact, they were either weaklings who’d been assigned civilian-type jobs, or warriors as ignorant and superstitious as brutal. Aside from what specialized training fitted them for Wallis’s purposes, he’d never tried to get them properly educated. If nothing else, that might have led to questioning of his righteousness and infallibility.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 165)
  • Silence fell. The clock on my mantel ticked aloud and the wind outside flowed past like a river.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 175)
  • I walk beyond town, many of these nights, to stand under the high autumnal stars, look upward and wonder.
    • Chapter 16 (p. 176; closing words)

The People of the Wind (1973)[edit]

Nominated for the 1974 Hugo Award and the 1974 Nebula Award
All page numbers from the mass market paperback first edition published by Signet Books (May 1973; #Q5479), 3rd printing
  • We, the proper civil government, approved your defense measures of the past several years, though you are aware that I myself always considered them excessive. When I think of the prosperity that tax money, those resources, could have brought, left in private hands—or the social good it could have done in the public sector— Give you military your heads, and you’d build bases in the fourth dimension to protect us against an invasion from the future.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 49)
  • Man’s duty in this life, he thought, is to choose the lesser evil.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 67)
  • Your trouble is, the Old Faith reinforces every wish to kill that war has roused in you.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 127)
  • The best foundation that a decision is ever allowed is our fallible assessment of the probabilities.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 161)
  • Then he decided that nothing was more impractical than misplaced practicality.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 168)
  • “Not that any simple principle exists, and not that I couldn’t be wrong. But it seems to me—well, that which we are, our society or culture or what you want to name it, has a life and a right of its own.”
    He drew breath. “Best beloved,” he said, “if communities didn’t resist encroachments, they’d soon be swallowed by the biggest and greediest. Wouldn’t they? In the end, dead sameness. No challenges, no inspirations from somebody else’s way. What service is it to life if we let that happen?
    • Chapter 19 (p. 175)

The Boat of a Million Years (1989)[edit]

All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Tor ISBN 0-812-53135-3, fourth printing
Nominated for the 1990 Hugo Award and the 1990 Nebula Award.

  • “He says giants built it in the morning of the world,” Hanno told Pytheas.
    “Then his people are as ignorant as we,” the Greek said low.
    • Chapter 1 “Thule”, Section 4 (pp. 11-12)
  • What else is life but always bidding farewell?
    • Chapter 1 “Thule”, Section 8 (p. 21)
  • We can hardly expect conventional respectability of a person whose goal in life is enlightenment.
    • Chapter 2 “The Peaches of Forever” (p. 27)
  • Nothing in excess, including self-denial.
    • Chapter 2 “The Peaches of Forever” (p. 29)
  • He did not share the widespread present-day faith in astrology. It seemed likeliest to him that sheer accident ruled the world.
    • Chapter 3 “The Comrade”, Section 2 (p. 45)
  • That is forgotten, their wars and their deeds and their very speech. Wisdom lasts. It is what I have sought across the world.
    • Chapter 5 “No Man Shuns His Doom”, Section 1 (p. 102)
  • I heard too many answers, I met too many gods. Abroad they call on Christ, but if you fare southward long enough it is Muhammad; and eastward it is Gautama Buddha, save where they say the world is a dream of Brahm, or offer to a host of gods and ghosts and elves like ours in these Northlands. And almost every man I asked told me that his folk know the truth while the rest are benighted. Could I but hear a word I felt even half sure of—
    • Chapter 5 “No Man Shuns His Doom”, Section 1 (p. 103)
  • He had intended to say that such was the nature of power. Seizing it and holding it were alike filthy.
    • Chapter 5 “No Man Shuns His Doom”, Section 1 (p. 106)
  • I have learned much in two thousand years, but nothing about any gods, except that they too, arise, change, age, and die. Whatever there is beyond the universe, if anything, I doubt it concerns itself with us.
    • Chapter 7 “The Same Kind”, Section 2 (p. 140)
  • If you continue a liar, you are as skillful a one as I have found in a wide experience.
    • Chapter 11 “The Kitten and the Cardinal” (p. 198)
  • You shall depart freely. Caution enjoins me to have you arrested and garroted within this hour. Either you are a charlatan and deserve it or a mortal danger and require it. However, I deem you a sensible man who will withdraw to his obscurity. And I am grateful to you for a fascinating glimpse of—what is best left alone.
    • Chapter 11 “The Kitten and the Cardinal” (p. 205)
  • “Your Eminence is as great a man as I have ever met.”
    “Then God have mercy on humankind,” Richelieu replied.
    • Chapter 11 “The Kitten and the Cardinal” (p. 207)
  • I also know you cannot pick and choose. Change is a medicine bundle. You must refuse it altogether, or take the whole thing.
    • Chapter 12 “The Last Medicine” (p. 215)
  • Who can make a medicine against time?
    • Chapter 12 “The Last Medicine” (p. 216)
  • I never set myself up as a prophet. Those crazy preachers have been the death of thousands, and the end is not yet.
    • Chapter 14 “Men of Peace”, Section 4 (p. 254)
  • I’ve seen so many gods come and go, what’s one more?
    • Chapter 14 “Men of Peace”, Section 4 (p. 254)
  • She seldom bothered taking revenge. Time did that for her, eventually.
    • Chapter 15 “Coming Together”, Section 2 (p. 281)
  • Think. You have had your dealings with our bureaucracy. It is impossible not to, especially if one is a foreigner. Believe me, when we set our minds to it we can tangle, obstruct, and bring to a dead halt a herd of stampeding elephants.
    • Chapter 16 “Niche” (p. 291)
  • I seek occasional relief in old books. They help me tell the transient from the enduring.
    • Chapter 16 “Niche” (p. 291)
  • Corruption rewards its favorites with jobs.
    • Chapter 16 “Niche” (p. 297)
  • “Is that all he wants?” McCready wondered. “Shuffling papers in an office, forever?”
    • Chapter 16 “Niche” (p. 298)
  • Well, everybody got stupid now and then, especially in war.
    • Chapter 17 “Steel” (p. 306)
  • Once this was a free country. Oh, I always knew that couldn’t last, that here too things were bound to grind back to the norm—masters and serfs, whatever names they go by. And so far we continue happier than most of the world ever was. But damn, modern democracy has the technology to regiment us beyond anything Caesar, Torquemada, Suleyman, or Louis XIV dared dream of.
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 327)
  • No amount of money would stave off a nuclear warhead.
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 328)
  • It would annoy me less that we’re heading into a new puritanical era if the puritanism concerned itself about things that matter.
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 330)
  • “Well, I’ll try to sketch it out for you, but I’ll have to repeat stuff I’ve told you before.”
    “That’s all right. I’m a simon-pure layman. My basic thought habits were formed early in the Iron Age. Where it comes to science, I can use plenty of repetition.”
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 331)
  • Something as biologically fundamental as death ought to be in the very fabric of evolution virtually from the beginning.
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 332)
  • “Evolution is cut-and-try. If I may anthropomorphize,” he added. “Often it’s hard not to.”
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 333)
  • “‘Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ Yeah, trouble is, the three classes of people aren’t the same.”
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 3 (p. 336)
  • We Russians have learned to fear anarchy above all else. We would rather have tyranny than it. Hanno, you do wrong to look on people’s republics, strong governments of every kind, as always evil. Freedom is perhaps better, but chaos is worse.
    • Chapter 18 “Judgment Day”, Section 15 (p. 396)
  • Absolute proof of absolute knowledge is impossible.
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 8 (p. 426)
  • Are you happy?
    Your question is meaningless. I am occupied. I participate in operations, I am one with the accomplishments.
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 8 (p. 426)
  • “We do need something to lift us out of ourselves. It’s wrong to carry our pettinesses along to the stars.”
    “We will, though,” he said. “We can’t help it. How do you escape being what you are?”
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 12 (p. 438)
  • I don’t pretend to understand what the physicists mean by time, but for people, it isn’t so-and-so many measured units; it’s events, experiences. A man who crowds his life and dies young has lived longer than one who got old sitting in tame sameness.
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 14 (p. 441)
  • Before the spirit could seek into it, the mind must. She studied the tensor equations as once she studied the sutras, she meditated upon the koans of science, and at last she began to feel her oneness with all that was, and in the vision find peace.
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 18 (p. 449)
  • What’s the point of our living all these centuries if we haven’t grown up even a little?
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 27 (p. 482)
  • The universe held as many surprises as it did stars. No, more. That was its glory. But someday one of them was bound to kill you.
    • Chapter 19 “Thule”, Section 32 (p. 517)

Harvest of Stars (1993)[edit]

  • "I've heard assorted rhapsodies about humankind going to the stars, of course. Who hasn't? Each of them founders on the practical problems."
    "The fish that first ventured ashore had considerable practical problems."
    • Ch. 40
  • Light fills the air, wind is aglow, drink of it, breathe of it, make leafing.
    Rainfall sows itself, it grows down through soil to the secret places where stones abide; it brings the strength of them up rootward.
    Lie still, molder away, then be again grass.
    • Ch. 55
  • Anybody can find infinite Mandelbrot figures in his navel.
    • Ch. 60
  • All those agonizing philosophical-theological conundrums amount to "Ask a silly question, get a silly answer."
    • Ch. 63

Poul Anderson: Fifty Years of Science Fiction (1997)[edit]

"Poul Anderson: Fifty Years of Science Fiction," Locus Magazine (April 1997)
  • I wrote the first book, Harvest of Stars, and as I was writing it, I saw that certain implications had barely been touched on... It's perfectly obvious that two completely revolutionary things are going on, with cybernetics, and biological science.
  • In Harvest of Stars, there is this notion, not original with me of course, that it will become possible to download at least the basic aspects of a human personality into a machine program...
  • So much American science fiction is parochial -- not as true now as it was years ago, but the assumption is one culture in the future, more or less like ours, and with the same ideals, the same notions of how to do things, just bigger and flashier technology. Well, you know darn well it doesn't work that way...


  • I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
    • Often referred to as Anderson's Law.
    • Cited in:
      • Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner. Google Books. Accessed September 5, 2009.
      • Checkland, P.B. (1985). Formulating problems in Systems Analysis. In: Miser, H. J. and Quade E. S. (eds.) (1985). Handbook of Systems Analysis: Overview of Uses, Procedures, Applications, and Practice. Chapter 5, pp. 151-170. North-Holland, New York.
      • Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows. Chapter 1

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