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|Going for Infinity|
by Poul Anderson
Tor Books, 2001
Amazon.com: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.ca: hardcover, paperback
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover, paperback
Recommended by: Greg Slade
I have long enjoyed Poul Anderson's work, whether it's a bit of silliness such as The High Crusade, or something more serious and thoughtful such as The Shield of Time. Therefore, I had no hesitation about picking up Going for Infinity when I spotted it on the shelf. Reading it was bittersweet: On one hand, the endpapers tell me that Anderson died in 2001, so we'll be seeing no more works from him. (I was out of the country at the time, and hadn't heard that.) On the other hand, I found a couple of new (to me) stories set in Anderson's story worlds which I have particularly enjoyed. "Death and the Knight" is a "Time Patrol" story, with some of the same characters as The Shield of Time, and "Quest" is set in the story universe of The High Crusade.
Basically, this collection is a retrospective look at Anderson's career, with the stories interspersed with personal reminiscences of some of the editors and other authors whom he had come to know during his career, which spanned nearly 60 years.
This collection also includes the story "Kyrie", which has long been on my "to read" list of SF works which deal with Christianity. As it happens, the convent on the moon which is described in the beginning of the story appears nowhere else. However, Christian themes or characters pop up frequently in Anderson's work. One example is "The Problem of Pain", which asks how God can allow good people to suffer. Another example is "Journeys End", in which a telepathic character recalls a Catholic priest as one of the few truly good people he has met.
That is not to say that Anderson's works are explicitly Christian. Rather, Christianity is but one of the elements which he weaves into his stories. He also draws on mythology, and even (in "The Queen of Air and Darkness", the final story in the volume) the Sherlock Holmes stories of Sr Arthur Conan Doyle. For Anderson, it was all about storytelling, and he was very, very good at it, picking up very nearly every award which a science fiction and fantasy author could win. This collection provides a good introduction to his work for those who are not already aware of it, and contains some gems which even fans might not have seen before. (June, 2005)
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