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Anvil, Christopher

Entry updated 15 April 2024. Tagged: Author.

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Pseudonym of US author Harry C Crosby Jr (1925-2009), whose two earliest stories were published under his own name: "Cinderella, Inc." (December 1952 Imagination) and "Roll Out the Rolov!" (November 1953 Imagination). Anvil has been popularly identified with Astounding since his initial appearance in that magazine with "The Prisoner" in February 1956. He soon followed with the first of the stories making up the Pandora's Planet series: Pandora's Planet (September 1956 Astounding; exp 1972); and Pandora's Legions (fixup 2002), which loosely incorporates "Pandora's Envoy" (April 1961 Analog), "The Toughest Opponent" (August 1962 Analog), "Sweet Reason" (June 1966 If) and "Trap" (March 1969 Analog). His prolific fiction has been noted from the beginning for its vein of comic ethnocentricity, a vein much in keeping with the expressed feelings of John W Campbell Jr who, in his later years at least, felt it philosophically necessary for humans to win in any significant encounter with Aliens. Anvil supplied this sort of story effortlessly, though his first novel, The Day the Machines Stopped (1964), is a Disaster story in which a Soviet experiment permanently cuts off all electrical impulses in the world. Chaos results, but Americans are soon making do again with steam engines and reconstructing a more rural civilization. The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun (1980), which depicts a Soviet-US war 200 years hence, displays a similar cast of mind.

Most of Anvil's stories take place in a consistent future galactic federation (see Galactic Empires), and quite a number of these Interstellar Patrol stories deal with Colonization of Other Worlds. Archaic, simplistic, insistently readable, Warlord's World (1975) and Strangers in Paradise (fixup 1969) – both titles remixed and added to as Interstellar Patrol (coll 2003) and Interstellar Patrol II: The Federation of Humanity (coll 2005) – are representative of this material. Within this larger pattern are a number of lesser series, most of whose individual stories were published (usually in Astounding/Analog) in magazine form only; The Trouble With Aliens (coll 2006) assembles one of these shorter sequences, The War With the Outs, along with other material; The Trouble With Humans (coll 2007) assembles additional stories. Only the occasional non-Astounding/Analog story, like "Mind Partner" (August 1960 Galaxy), hints at the supple author who remained content within the cage of Campbell's expectations. Since Campbell's death, Anvil became less active as a writer. What he might have offered has long been missed. [JC]

see also: Astounding Science-Fiction; Force Field; Future War; Stasis Field.

Harry Christopher Crosby Jr

born Norwich, Connecticut: 11 March 1925

died Cayuta, New York: 30 November 2009



Interstellar Patrol

Pandora's Planet

The War With the Outs

individual titles


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