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The Dark Between the Stars by Poul Anderson

The Dark Between the Stars

by Poul Anderson

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I picked this up long long ago - probably in the mid 80's when I was getting back into reading science fiction again. and it has been boxed away in a closet for a great many years. I'm going through some of those old boxes and thinning them out. I did not remember having read this collection and since I generally liked Anderson's stories (in the early to mid 70's I considered him one of my favorite SF authors) I thought it deserved a read. The hardback was published by the Science Fiction Book Club and it has a gawdawful cover that rather creeps me out. My personal problem is that the subject matter was at times too creepy for me in ways the lurid cover does not suggest. The first story won a 1969 Hugo Award for Best Novelette (and was nominated for a nebula award) and is about cannibalism on an almost lost colony of earth in the far future. The second tale, 'Fortune Hunter' starts off with this fabulously descriptive text that was beautiful but the story is about a fortune hunter, a man who has been trying to emotionally seduce a woman for selfish reasons over a very long time. Once I realized the guy was a creep it really took the shine off the story.

The third story 'Eutopia' first appeared in Harlan Ellison's 'Dangerous Visions' and so would be expected to be provocative. Anderson plays with the readers preconceived notions in this parallel world story and one doesn't hit the ick until the very last sentence, and in fact the very last word. Yuck. Then in another story we have a soldier subject to genital mutilation who is forced to betray his country in this spy game People's Republic of America alternate history story. The title of this collection may be the dark between the stars but it is more like the dark between the words. Dystopian futures and alternate / parallel worlds are a recurring theme.

Generally these are very well written stories but the subject matter and/or the 'twist' was not to my liking in too many. I would not really recommend this collection, although 'Call Me Joe' is a classic of the genre, which I have read before and was worth a reread. Also on the plus side, The Voortrekkers, although rather short, captures the excitement of future deep space pioneers in an unusual way. The personalities of the explorers are stored and then implanted in new bodies when the destination is reached across many light years in space. I think of it as like the Star Trek transporter system in a different use. Here though one must re-acclimate to the recreated body. (I like also Anderson's co-opting the term 'Voortrekkers' for the title of this story of man's migration into space.)

The better stories seem to be in the second half of the book beginning with Voortrekkers. Gibraltar Falls was a rather fun and exciting trip into the past.

There is also a very good afterword in this collection which is oddly placed three stories before the end!

The bulk of the stories collected here are award winning and/or have been anthologized in many different collections.

The included stories are:
Foreword • (1981) • essay by Poul Anderson
The Sharing of Flesh • (1968) • novelette
Fortune Hunter • (1972) • short story
Eutopia • (1967) • novelette
The Pugilist • (1973) • novelette
Night Piece • (1961) • short story
The Voortrekkers • (1974) • novelette
Afterword by Poul Anderson
Gibraltar Falls • (1975) • short story
Windmill • Maurai • (1973) • novelette
Call Me Joe • (1957) • novelette ( )
  RBeffa | Jul 15, 2017 |
To the Reader:

A Must! Read Afterward p. 159 first! Here's what Poul, and all he is, plus all he has created, believes. What is it? The Creed of a fine SF/fantasy writer and thinker of his time. A footnote of human history. My view.

PS He'd give me a very hard time, if he saw this. Writ in 1996 SEL
  sterlingelanier | Sep 24, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 042504291X, Mass Market Paperback)

Someday. Tomorrow. When Earth fails man and man leaves Earth behind, the awesomeness is waiting Out There. Empty beyond all imagining, vast beyond all reckoning, as deep as Time and twice as cold, The Dark between the stars. Here collected for the first time are the most incredible and terrifying voyages of the acclaimed master of SF adventure. Voyages to the center of a universe dark with terror. And Beyond. Collection of 9 stories: "The Sharing of Flesh," nominated, 1968 Nebula award; winner, 1969 Hugo award, best novelette; "Fortune Hunter;" "Eutopia;" "The Pugilist;" "Night Piece;" "The Voortrekkers;" "Gibralter Falls," a Time Patrol story; "Windmill," and "Call Me Joe," which was voted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 08 Jul 2015 22:40:11 -0400)

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