Call Me Joe: The Short Fiction of Poul Anderson
by Poul Anderson
Edited by Rick Katze and Lis Carey
Cover Artist: Bob Eggleton
Review by Steve Sawicki
NESFA Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781886778757
Date: 11 January 2009 List Price $29.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
NESFA Press is easily the best fan press in operation. They've been putting out books, at first as commemorative publications coinciding with Boskone one of Boston's premiere science fiction conventions (held each February), and then just because, well, they happen to love books and SF. They've published some great stuff, some classic SF, some new material by established authors, and collections of short fiction that would have disappeared if not for them.
They're at it again with Call Me Joe, The Collected Works of Poul Anderson. As a teenager growing up I got my hands on as many magazines as I could: Fantastic, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Astounding, Most Thrilling, Amazing, Galaxy, Worlds of If, and more. This was the place where science fiction lived. Sure there were novels and paperbacks but the short story, at least it seemed to me, was fairly bursting with that sense of wonder that drew me to SF to begin with. And Poul Anderson was one of the most adept at creating a strange setting for a group of even odder characters to wander about in.
This first volume contains 26 stories, a selection of writing covering the four years from 1947 through 1950 as well as selected stories written through 1968. The stories cover the gamut from time travel to space travel and numerous concepts in between. Amazingly the writing is not as dated as you might think considering how quickly SF can go stale. Just another way in which Anderson was a master wordsmith.
Anderson's belief that people affect systems instead of the other way around is clear in many of his works, perhaps best embodied by the Time Patrol stories, one of which is included here. There are also a number of his verses as well as an introduction by Greg Bear and a cover done by Bob Eggleton. You may find that some of the themes in Anderson's work seem familiar and you would be correct because Anderson's work served as a breeding ground of ideas for writers who followed. Anderson himself was in John Campbell's stable of writers. Rick Katze and Elisabeth Carey served as editors for this book and have done a superb job.
NESFA produces beautiful books that not only contain great fiction but fill a role in preserving the history of SF, especially the short fiction which exists mostly in magazines and a few anthologies, most of them in paperback. Every time they put out a new book the SF community should rush out and buy it. In this case you can't go wrong with getting just over 500 pages of classic Poul Anderson.