Stefan's Reviews > The Van Rijn Method

The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson
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Mar 27, 09

bookshelves: science-fiction, short-story-collection
Read in January, 2009

Baen is re-releasing all of Poul Anderson's "Technic Civilization" stories. The first of 5 projected volumes is "The Van Rijn Method", focusing on the early stages of the inter-stellar civilization and on Nicholas Van Rijn, a merchant and bon-vivant who played a large role in some of the early stories. I wasn't really familiar with Poul Anderson before, and to be honest, I probably still couldn't say I am --- apparently he was one of the most prolific writers of his generation with 70 or so novels and countless short stories and collections. Yikes.
I tend to approach older SF with lowered expectations (see also: Alfred Bester, Cordwainer Smith), but in this case I was pleasantly surprised. Some of these stories have a wonderful old-fashioned SF feel to them: Anderson starts with the science and works outward from there. A planet may be at such and such a distance from its fun and at a certain inclination, which has a specific effect on the climate, which again influences the evolution of a species, and so on. He then effectively ties all of this into plot and, to a lesser extent, character development (always a weak point in older SF in my opinion).
The main attraction in these stories is the title character, Nicholas Van Rijn, a larger than life merchant, loud, boisterous and brilliant. His speech mannerisms alone are enough to make these stories fun. The next book in the series is titled "David Falkayn, Star Trader", which seems to indicate no more Van Rijn stories... What a shame.
While the stories in this collection definitely show their age, I found them easier to read than some others from this period. I especially liked the one longer piece, "The Man Who Counts" (either a very short novel or a long novella), which tied all the qualities of the shorter stories together and made me curious to read some more long-form work by Anderson. So, all in all a pleasant surprise.
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message 1: by Chadwick (new)

Chadwick If you liked his style, check out Three Hearts and Three Lions. He is better known as a writer of SF, but I think fantasy might have been his most fertile genre.


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