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March 2003
2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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For Love And Glory by Poul Anderson
Tor Hardcover
: ISBN 0312874499 PubDate Mar 03
Review by Ernest Lilley
304 pages List price $24.95  
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A dozen years ago, the late Poul Anderson begins in his forward to For Love and Glory, the late Isaac Asimov created a science fictional cosmos to serve as a backdrop for other writers. Though Anderson contributed two stories ("The Diplomacy Guild" and "Phases in Chaos") to this universe, which have been incorporated in this book, only a ghostly echo remains of those tales, as the people, places and things in them have all been substantially changed. Still, the author wants us to know where it all began, and to acknowledge his debt to another master of SF. We're all in debt to Asimov's estate for letting Anderson create this novel, published over a year after his death.

For Love and Glory is classic Anderson laced with contemporary SF's memes. There is a feisty ( and beautiful) woman out to see the glories of the cosmos, a masterful male for her to fall in love with, and a cosmic event for them to brave and revel in. Actually, there are several males that the heroine, Lissa, works her way through, and one or two of them get shortchanged by my lights...but maybe not by Poul's.

The story begins with Lissa Davysdaughter Windholm of Asborg - Sunniva III, or Lissa for short out looking for ancient alien ruins on a little know planet, with her friend and companion a gentle T-Rex like creature known (for human purposes) as Karl. Fans will no doubt be reminded of Adzel, the Buhdist dragon explorer from The Trouble Twisters, written early in Anderson's career. Lissa and Karl come across Torben Hebo, an independent and somewhat crusty human who's found an alien treasure first and shows the lack of grace to want to capitalize upon his discovery. Torben is an amalgam of Anderson's strong males, it comes as little surprise, consisting of an amalgam of Anderson's own David Falkyn, Indiana Jones and L.E. Modesset's "Forever Hero" (SFRevu 3.8). Though he's too rough a character for Lissa's taste the two briefly set off sparks before going their separate ways. She back to her homeworld to convince her powerful family to fund more research and he back to Earth, no longer a human world, but still his place of origin, and the place he decides to go to forget.

You see, Torben is old, really old. He's physically youthful, but after a number of centuries one's mind gets so full of clutter that you just can't make heads or tales of it. Different authors have dealt with this problem in different ways, and Anderson chooses the memory editing approach, trimming down the excess baggage to something manageable. Torben goes to Earth for his trim because it's where his memories started, though he's been away long enough for Terran humanity to have changed beyond everything but physical recognition. Earth is inhabited by a group mind, polite and hospitable, helpful even...but no longer human.

Meanwhile, Lissa has gotten herself involved with an expedition to go see "something wonderful" when an alien comes to her to reveal that a secret alien expedition has been mounted to observe some cosmic once in a lifetime event, information that the alien shares in exchange for space for his disaffected fellows to colonize, away from their overbearing rulers. Lissa manages to show herself as less than a perfect judge of character when she picks a captain and chief scientist who both fall in love with her, and who both have character flaws large enough to drive a space-yacht into. Well, possibly nothing the love of a good woman can't cure.

So for a time Lissa and Torben's stories diverge, and then after the big event for Lissa and Torben's attitude adjustment, they find themselves both on the same world throw together trying to save the life of an alien in the new colony. More sparks fly and a bit of skullduggery too as Torben's clever plan to exploit the aftermath of the cosmic event is discovered and the two find themselves suddenly in a space race to get there first while trying to make up their minds about each other.

For Love and Glory is Anderson's last romp in the cosmos, and while fans will find it reassuringly true to form, it doesn't add much to his canon, despite the incorporation of contemporary ideas about longevity and whatnot. It's fun, and a good read, but if you want to to go back and find something that reminds you of why this was one of the great SF authors I'd recommend  Going for Infinity (SFRevu Jun '02), the author's semi-autobiographical tour of his writing.

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sfr3d.gif (19860 bytes) 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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