Horn of Time Paperback – 21 Aug 1981
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1st edition 1st printing paperback, vg In stock shipped from our UK warehouse
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Horn of Time Hunter - 3/5 - Planetary explorers discover a seemingly hostile amphibious human-like intelligence. The aliens' reactions must be read carefully as to discern the nature of their being. 16 pages
A Man to My Wounding - 4/5 - A counter-spy slinks around Chinatown looking for Chinese assassins in a government sanctioned assassination game. The evolution of war has come to this. 17 pages
The High Ones - 4/5 - A non-native subterranean alien species is discovered on a planet but they react in a non-intelligent way. The divided explorers put themselves forward to understand the culture and technology of the aliens. 24 pages
The Man Who Came Early - 3/5 - Unwilling time traveler is sent back to 11th century Iceland where he stays in a village though he has no skills to provide the township. A kind man takes him under his wing for better... but not for worse. 23 pages
Matius - 2/5 - Coup-minded man confronts the chief to change leadership. When the chief waves the suggestion away, the real racket begins and choices must be made. 13 pages
Progress - 5/5 - The seamen (or pirates or spies) approach the Bangladeshi/Indian coast in disrepair hoping for assistance. The tension between landlubbers and sailors is high as information to their origins and benevolence is questioned. 41 pages
Three of the stories are heavily political, with varying degrees of success. "The High Ones" is about some Americans and Soviets trying to understand an alien race: Is it or is it not intelligent? But the anticommunist theme of the story is a bit dated and heavy handed. "A Man to My Wounding" involves a counterspy tracking down assassins in a future Chinatown. In these days days of terrorists, assassins and suicide bombers, I must say that this story is more relevant than the first. But the theme is still a bit obvious, and the characters are cardboard. "Marius" is a story about some hard decision making in a post-apocalyptic Europe. It balances a toughmindedness about what must be done for the common good against a sympathy for the people who are affected by the results. It is the best of the three.
"The Man Who Came Early" is a reversal of a tried and true time travel story. Mark Twain, Manly Wade Wellman, L. Sprague de Camp and others wrote stories of modern men thrown back in time who bring progress to the ancients. Anderson suggests that a modern man in ancient times might be more of a victim than a savior.
"The Horn of Time the Hunter" and "Progress" are clearly the best stories in the book. The first is a haunting account of a first contact between humans and an aquatic alien race and of the sound of a hunter "pursuing a quarry that wept as it ran" (26). "Progress" is another post-apocalyptic adventure story that wrestles with the proper course of humankind. This time, however, the renaissance is centered in India rather than Europe. It is one of Anderson's best stories.
_The Horn of Time_ is not one of Anderson's very best collections. But it is a good one. It is certainly not a time-waster.
(3.5/5) `The Horn of Time the Hunter', first published in Amazing Stories September 1963. The Kith, evolved from the early human interstellar explorers, became the space faring links between diverse colonies. However, the Kith fled from the humans after a series of persecutions resulting in many colonies severed from other worlds. `The Horn of Time the Hunter' is about a small group of Kith exploring one of these deserted colony worlds (a secret awaits!). However, this is more than a simplistic "let's explore a strange world" tale -- instead, Anderson examines the loneliness, desperation, and fear of the persecuted and cast out Kith, which manifests itself when they are confronted with strange humanoids. I'm more interested in the the dynamics of the spaceship based Kith society (facets of which are hinted at by Anderson) than planetary adventures. There's enough themes present for a novel...
(2/5) `A Man to My Wounding', first published as `State of Assassination' in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine December 1959. Post-World War III devastation, killing has evolved into the art of political assassination. Our nameless assassin hero is on the quest to kill some Chinese. Set in a Chinatown sort of environment in America, Poul Anderson pulls the basic sort of plot strings mixed with the basic sort of exotic local ostensibly to examine the evolution of war -- in short, boring and somewhat predictable. There are some odd tidbits, for example, white women getting eye surgery to look like Asians...
(2/5) `The High Ones', first published in Infinity Science Fiction, June 1958. A mixed crew of Soviets and Americans arrive at Tau Ceti and discover an alien race with vastly superior technology. Standard unoriginal fare -- I mean, the psychological screening by the Soviet Controlled Earth authorities didn't work at all (mutinies and hatred between the subjugated Americans and Soviets). Oh, and how didn't they see from orbit city which covered most of the planet? Argh, and why are all super-intelligent cultures so culturally monolithic? I guess it fits into his main argument -- Communism and totalitarianism are bad.
Avoid this story at all costs unless you're in the mood for some simplistic 1950s propaganda.
(2/5) `The Man Who Came Early', first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1956. American soldier stationed in Iceland is transported back in time to the pre-Christian Iceland of the year 1000. There isn't much redeemable about this stilted caper. Well, Poul Anderson's pessimistic theme that the modern man is unable to function in the past despite his superior technology is somewhat interesting despite the story's poor delivery.
(1/5) `Marius' first published in Astounding Science Fiction, March 1957. Post-Soviet occupation of France and the rest of the Western Europe political maneuvering and mutinies with some tenuous Roman analogies... Not much interest or originality here either.
(4/5) `Progress', first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1962. This story almost rescues the collection -- a high-tech sailboard in a post-War of Judgment future (odd names for places/peoples/languages derived from modern names) with spies (Maori) arrives off the coast of India. Extrapolated futures about India are almost always worth reading.