RIP: Poul Anderson (1926-2001)

(Tributes follow this notice)

Poul Anderson passed away of cancer, near midnight on Tuesday July 31, 2001. he was in hospice care at the Anderson home in Orinda, California, following an month’s hospitalization. During his last day, he received hundreds of emails and messages of love and support from friends, readers and fellow writers.

Born November 25, 1926, Anderson grew up in Minnesota and Texas. Poul Anderson’s first story was published in 1947, while he was attending the University of Minnesota. He continued writing following his graduation in 1948. In 1953 he married Karen Kruse and they lived in the San Francisco area for the rest of his life.

Poul was a former President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention, the winner of three Nebula Awards and seven Hugo Awards. In 1997 he received SFWA’s Grandmaster Award and in 2000 he was inducted to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

On July 6, his Genesis won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year 2000.

Over 100 novels and collections of his work were published. In an interview in Locus in 1997, he said the works that he would like to be remembered for are Tau Zero, Midsummer Tempest, The Boat of a Million Years, Three Hearts and Three Lions, The Enemy Stars and Brain Wave.

A memorial gathering is planned for 2pm, Saturday, August 4 at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th Street, Oakland. A small wake will follow at Greyhaven, starting around 5 pm. Attendees for the wake are asked to bring food or drink.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to:
SFWA Emergency Medical Fund
c/o Chuck Rothman, SFWA Treasurer
1436 Altamont Avenue
PMB 292
Schenectady, NY 12303-2977

He is survived by his wife and writing partner, Karen, his daughter Astrid, brother John, grandchildren Erik and Alexandra, nieces Janet and Cathy, and by millions of readers.

Bob Tucker & Poul Anderson at Minicon 10, 1975

Photo by Dave Truesdale

Reuters Obituary

AP Obituary


Robin Wayne Bailey

You know, it’s weird. Most times I feel great about having survived my own fight with cancer. But there are other times when I feel almost guilty.

Poul and Karen stayed for several days with Diana and I back in 1981 when we were all a lot younger. There was a convention locally that they were GoHs for, but they came out a couple of days early to tour. We took them to the Nelson Art Museum, and for some wonderful Greek food. Karen loved Greek, especially good mousaka. On the Thursday night before the convention, Diana made a large fried chicken dinner (Poul loved fried chicken). After it was over, I asked Poul if he’d consent to sign a couple of books. Even then, young and poor, my sf collection was, shall we say, extensive. He agreed, and I went upstairs to my library to pull down two volumes – WORLD WITHOUT STARS and THE BROKEN SWORD, two of my favorites of all his books.

In my excitement, I was unaware that Poul had followed me up the stairs, and when he noticed the approximately 37 volumes of his titles on my shelves, he insisted on signing every one of them.

Even today that memory makes me smile. But I also feel very blue.


Sarah Zettel

I met Poul & Karen first when I was young, and had just sold my first short story and was so nervous about meeting a man whose work I’d been reading all my life, I was on the verge of making myself sick. They were friends of my parents and we were out in San Francisco and had invited them out to dinner. Poul was gracious, encouraging and took me seriously. It was a small thing, but unbelievably important for me. We’ve only met a handful of times since, but I relish the memories. I never got to meet Asimov, Clarke or Heinlein. Poul has been my connection with the golden age and I am going to miss him.


Arthur Clarke   2 Aug. `01

I am indeed sorry to hear that we have lost Poul and send my sympathy to all his family. He was one of science fiction’s giants, and handled every conceivable theme in the *genre*. The cosmological speculations in Tau Zero anticipated Frank Tipler by decades, and I’ve often wondered if Brain Wave is really “non-fiction” – how else to account for the behaviour of “H. So-called Sapiens”?

Poul also invented some memorable scamps – who can forget Galactic robber-baron and wheeler-dealer, Nick van Rijn?

Goodbye Poul: we’ll all miss you.


Warren C. Norwood

Years ago Poul Anderson was Guest of Honor at a small Midwest con where I was toastmaster. It was a bizarre convention during which the con committee basically ignored Poul and Karen. Consequently, my wife and I got to spend a lot of time–especially with Poul. I was still a fairly new writer and asked him lots of basic questions about the business of writing, all of which he answered with depth and humor. And every evening after dinner he and my wife and I would walk laps around the hotel while he shared endless puns and jokes.

I had been with him before that convention and with them half-a-dozen times after, but those days are the ones I’ll never forget. Such a kind, giving man.

Our prayers and best wishes to Karen, Astrid, Greg, and all.


paghat the ratgirl
(Jessica Salmonson)

I loved his sword & sorcery. “Loved” is not an exaggeration. Some of the best that ever was written. THE BROKEN SWORD will stand alongside Tanith Lee’s NIGHTS MASTER and Michael Shea’s NIFFT THE LEAN and Jack Vance’s DYING EARTH as immortal works of fantasy, far more than another genre book among the masses of fantasy novels. “The Tale of Hauk” is likewise one ofthe finest shorter sword & sorcery tales ever written, ever told.

I first read Poul when I was a little kid buying Ace paperbacks & Ace Doubles — his name was linked forever after with childhood treasures. I first met Poul & Karen at NorWesCon, later more intimately at the Busbys’ house. Poul was among the first “pros” I ever met, well before ever I sold anything significant of my own. I remember him carrying on about the superiority of the Viking race — of which he with his big ears under a messy shrubbery of hair, half-blind & half-deaf, provided such good evidence. That image of him burned into my memory. It was one of my earliest inklings that it was indeed possible to be both a genius & a weirdo at the same time — so maybe I was all right too. He was kind to fandom; no snob he.


Joe Haldeman

Poul Anderson died about midnight July 31/Aug 1. Six months to the day after his dear friend Gordy Dickson.

Three Hearts and Three Lions and Brain Wave came out about the time I started reading sf, so for me he was one of those writers who had always been there. I was surprised how young he seemed when we first met, in the early sixties.

Poul became president of the fledgling SFWA soon after I joined in 1969, and I got to know him a bit, serving as his Grievance Committee chairman. Gay and I lived in Florida, and often joined Poul and Karen, along with a motley crew of other science fiction writers, over at Cape Kennedy to watch the Apollo rockets go up.

I wish I had known him better. For more than thirty years we ran into each other at conventions and other gatherings, and had fine talks and shared many songs and jokes, but I envy the people who knew him in a less public way. He was a man of broad knowledge and deep feelings. Karen wrote:

“He led his life without expecting to gain rewards or escape punishment in some other existence. He knew that good and evil arise from human nature, and believed it is our duty to choose the good. He was, in the words of the poet Horace, ‘integer vitae sclerisque purus’ — a man of blameless life and free of crime.”

— and you felt that virtue and gravity in his presence. But he was also a cheerful man who, among other gifts, was the best joke-teller I’ve ever known. His normally slow and halting speech would speed up as he grinned and gestured toward the punch line, and I think that’s how I best remember him, sharing a laugh with friends and strangers.

Of course he gave the world much more than that; like all good writers, he gave the world a new vision of itself.