Trader to the Stars
Series: Polesotechnic League
Reviewed date: 2019 Aug 31
Poul Anderson is the most underrated science fiction writer. That's saying a lot, because he has a stellar reputation. I think he's generally considered a top tier author but not quite on the level of Heinlein or Clarke or Asimov. But I disagree. I'd rate him higher than anybody except Asimov.
Perhaps the real problem is he never won a Hugo for Best Novel. He had a lot of nominations but never won. His magnum opus Tau Zero lost out to Niven's Ringworld. That's a real shame because Ringworld is a great idea but a crummy book, whereas Tau Zero has both the ideas and the storytelling. It's a better book.
And this book, Trader to the Stars. It's great. Poul Anderson can tell a gripping story, weave in the hard science and the convincing worldbuilding, and he's got some memorable, larger-than-life characters. Like Nicholas Van Rijn.
Another thing I like about Poul Anderson: he likes capitalism. I mean real capitalism: free trade. Not oppressive governments that meddle and constrain, but the freedom of business and commerce and trade and limitless potential. Perhaps that's why his books are often set in a universe with a big, unexplore and nearly limitless frontier. Worlds to explore, new people to meet and establish trade with. And unlike, say, Heinlein (who I very much enjoy, don't get me wrong), Poul Anderson can do it without getting preachy.