The Long Night

by Poul Anderson
Series: Technic History
Reviewed date: 2007 Aug 13
310 pages
cover art

These are some of Anderson's best stories. Dominic Flandry does not appear in any of them. Coincidence? Maybe not. Instead of the same old Flandry, we get to see other characters. For example, John Ridenour, a man who loves his wife and stays faithful to her even when he is thousands of light-years away on an alien planet. It's refreshing.

The cover of my paperback copy states: "Van Rijn saw [the Long Night] coming. Flandry lived through it." Who writes this stuff? Trained apes? Flandry most certainly did not live through the Long Night. Flandry lived in the waning days of the Terran Empire; he foresaw the Long Night and worked to delay it. He did not live through it. The Long Night began a hundred years or so after his death, and lasted for millennia.

  • The Star Plunderer: After the fall of the Polesotechnic League and the Commonwealth, Earth is sacked repeatedly by the Gorzuni. Manuel Argos, a slave serving on a Gorzuni ship, hijacks the spaceship and lays waste to the Gorzuni home world. Then he founds the Terran Empire.
  • Outpost of Empire: In the waning days of the Terran Empire, the agricultural planet Freehold is in turmoil: the Nine Cities are fighting their Arulian slaves, as well as the wild human outbacker population. Imperial agent John Ridenour spends some among the outbackers, and realizes they are the Empire's best bet for holding Freehold as a strong outpost against Merseia. The problem is convincing the Empire to overlook the fact of their rebellion.
  • A Tragedy of Errors: After the fall of the Terran Empire, Roan Tom tries to land his spaceship on an unknown planet. The native humans are unnaturally hostile. Eventually they discover that this is due to linguistic miscommunication--both Roan Tom and the locals speak Anglic, but the language has shifted enough to make proper communication problematic.
  • The Sharing of Flesh: A scientific expedition to a barbarous lost colony finds a race of men where every culture practices cannibalism as part of a male puberty ritual.
  • Starfog: The lost colony of Kirkasant contacts the Commonalty--but cannot navigate find its way home. Ranger Daven Laure helps the expedition search for its home. They narrow the search to a thick, metal-rich globular cluster, but the heavy interstellar gases and the overcrowded riot of variable stars makes navigation impossible. Unless the cluster is seeded with millions of beacons to aid navigation, Kirkasant will never be found.

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