I listed Poul Anderson’s more swashbuckling and adventurous fiction with the shared item of characters using swords. How would an editor package these stories? DMR Books just reprinted three stories. I love DMR Books as it provides a service the Big Five publishing conglomerates do not. Small press publications have limitations in size and budget.
I will engage in the hypothetical. There is no easy way to get all of Anderson’s swashbucklers into one book unless you were to do a massive hardcover. What if an entity decided to get into mass market paperbacks, sort of like Hard Case Crime but with science fiction and fantasy? Or alternate timelines with books that never existed. Think Ace or D.A.W. Books in the 1970s. Imagine the Michael Whelan covers for books that never existed.
Here is how I would collect some of those stories I listed last week into one paperback:
Witch of the Demon Seas Planet Stories January 1951
The Virgin of Valkarion Planet Stories July 1951
Swordsman of Lost Terra Planet Stories November 1951
A World to Choose Fantastic Stories November 1960
Goodbye, Atlantis! Fantastic Stories August 1961
The Immortal Game F&SF February 1954
The Barbarian F&SF May 1956
I have written about the yarns from Planet and “Goodbye, Atlantis!” “A World to Choose” had the original title of “A Logical Conclusion” that was restored for the collection Fantasy (Tor/Pinnacle 1981). The story involves a modern man switching minds with a hero in a fantasy type world. Anderson plays it fairly straight with no de Campian Tomfoolery. That is a story many of you probably never heard nor read.
“The Immortal Game” was the aim of a review by James Blish as “William Atheling, Jr.” Blish had this to say about Anderson:
“Over this mechanical performance broods the spirit of Anderson the Barbarian, Thane of Minneapolis, Bard of Scandinavianism–the side of the writer’s personality, in short, which emerged during his long apprenticeship to Planet Stories. Nobody should need to be reminded that Anderson can write well, but this is seldom evident while he is in his Scand avatar.”
That is an incredible statement. How utterly wrong in the long run.
“The Immortal Game” has the mix of science and swordplay of the other stories. It also is one of Anderson’s more obscure stories.
“The Barbarian” is probably the best parody or send up of barbarian fantasy ever written. It was early in the game. I normally don’t like humorous fantasy, but this is one of the exceptions. I am sure Robert E. Howard would have laughed at it. Korgoth of Barbaria reminds me of Anderson’s “The Barbarian.” It was included in The Best of Poul Anderson.
My guess is a collection of this size would be around 95,000 words. So a nice size paperback but not too big. Frank Kelly Freas would have a natural to do the cover or Michael Whelan.