Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review, No. 16, July-August 1983, p. 22.
Anderson, Poul. The Long Night. Tor/Pinnacle, NY, May 1983. 317 p. $2.95, paper. ISBN 523-48582-4.
Anderson’s short fiction is always a pleasure to read, but Sandra Miesel’s intriguing “historical” introductions turn this volume of seemingly unrelated stories into something more than just another collection. As the title suggests, the theme is Anderson’s “Long Night,” the periods of chaos between peaks of galactic civilization. Surprisingly, there are no Van Rijn or Flandry tales; in fact, some of the stories take place when civilization is firmly in place. Included in an appendix is a nicely done chronology of Technic history and appropriate story references.
Except for the Hugo-winning novelette, “The Sharing of Flesh,” the five stories are not readily available. “The Star Plunderer,” first in the collection and first chronologically, dates from 1952; the other, more polished works — “Outpost of Empire,” “A Tragedy of Errors,” and “Starfog” — are from 1967-68. Each story illuminates, in a different way, the manner in which civilization is preserved through the actions of ordinary, uncertain, and usually unrewarded individuals. Miesel should be recognized for her role in taking such dissimilar, unrelated material and blending it into a coherent, thoughtful whole. The result is a series of windows on Anderson’s version of future history — a more painful and melancholy future than those of Heinlein, Niven, or Piper. Recommended. — Lawrence I. Charters