6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
"Earthman's Burden" includes a fun series of stories by Poul Anderson & Gordon R. Dickson. The stories included introduce the Hokas, a race which resembles teddy bears and which likes to mimic the behavior they see in Earth entertainment and history. Included in this collection are the first five Hoka stories, and a sixth story written for this book which takes place chronologically between the events of the original first two stories.
"The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch" is a short story which was originally published in "Other Worlds" in May of 1951 under the title of "Heroes Are Made". In this story, Alexander Jones meets the Hokas after crash landing on Toka, a world shared by the Hokas, and the reptilian Slissii who prey on the Hokas. At this point, the Hokas have already adopted the Wild West lifestyle which they got from earlier contact with humans. The easy going Hokas are fighting a losing battle with the Slissii, who they have taken to calling Indians, and Alex is desperately trying to get them to help him get back to the main ship. This story is a good start to the series.
"Don Jones" is a novelette which was written for this collection, and in this story we find Alexander Jones on Earth with the job of entertaining the Hoka delegation. Unfortunately, they have discovered Italian Opera, and specifically Don Giovanni. With a jealous and insecure girlfriend, a beautiful coworker, and a boss who has it in for him, Alexander has his work cut out for him in trying to contain the playful Hokas. Probably the weakest story in the book, but still a fun read.
"In Hoka Signo Vinces" is a short story which was first published in "Other Worlds" in June of 1953. In this story, Alexander Jones is worried about the Pornians, an alien race who has started to build militarily while the rest of the civilized races have disarmed. Meanwhile, the Hokas have taken to playing Space Patrol, using Jones' courier ship, and he finds himself swept away in their role playing. Unfortunately, their game has them headed right towards the Pornians' new dreadnaught. This story is another fun episode in the series.
"The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound" is a novelette which was first published in "Universe" in December of 1953. In this story, Earth is concerned with a smuggler who is hiding on Toka, in an area where the Hokas have mimicked a Victorian lifestyle. Alexander Jones search for the smuggler leads him quite naturally to the Hokan Sherlock Holmes, to which he plays Watson. This story was nominated for the 2004 Retro Hugo for novelettes written in the year 1953, and for good reason.
"Yo Ho Hoka!" is a novelette which was first published in "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" in March of 1955. In this story, Alexander Jones is concerned that the Hokas imitations of Earth history will result in his dismissal as plenipotentiary if Earth hears about their imitating pirates. He sets out to lead the navy against the pirates and put an end to their mischief, but instead finds himself pressed into service. Once again, events seem to spiral out of control, and he finds himself with the name of Greenbeard and acting as the Admiral of the pirate fleet. This story ranks right up there with the previous one.
"The Tiddlywink Warriors" is a novelette which was first published in "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" in August of 1955. In this story, Alexander Jones finds himself under the watchful eye of Jorkins Brassard, who is the Cultural Development Inspector, and who prevents Alexander from taking action when his wife crash lands on Telko, the planet closer to the Tokan sun, which is inhabited by a very violent tribal race who holds her prisoner. Brassard forbids the use of advanced technology to rescue her, so Alexander is forced to seek out the Hoka version of the French Foreign Legion to help him. As usual, things don't go exactly as planned
This is an easy to read series of stories, and very suitable for light entertainment. The stories are linked together by messages being sent to and from Earth, but those aren't really needed and don't add much to the book. The collection was originally published in 1957, and worth seeking out if you have not read the stories. There is a second collection of Hoka stories titled simply "Hoka!", which was published in October of 1983.