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Anvil, Christopher (Christopher Anvil)

SFcrowsnest readers, step right up for an adventure into the delightful orbits of Christopher Anvil, a pen name that sounds like a superhero alias for a dashing blacksmith in space, but was in reality the incognito of the Earth-bound Harry Christopher Crosby.

You've heard of the misadventures of Odysseus, but Anvil's characters were the real stars (pun intended) who, as David Weber aptly put, "dazzled with their footwork" and danced like they had a floor covered in ball bearings. One moment they're outthinking extraterrestrial threats with superior firepower, and the next, they’re navigating the quagmires of human bureaucracy.

Let's talk "The Colonization Series". Anvil, being the overachiever that he was, spun tales like "Revolt!" and "The Sieve" with gusto. His Colonization series tales constituted a staggering one-third of his sci-fi output. The sheer volume alone is enough to make one dizzy—let alone the dazzling dance of wit, intelligence, and craftiness embedded within.

And then there’s the infamous "Pandora's Planet", which, if you haven't read, is akin to saying you've been to Paris but missed the Eiffel Tower. It’s a tale that begins in the stellar lanes of Astounding magazine and spirals out to form the spine of his Pandora series. Also, who could forget Anvil's delightful dalliance with the "Interstellar Patrol"? Trust us, it's as Star Trek-y as it sounds, but with Anvil's unique flavor sprinkled in.

Among the vast universe of Anvil's tales, some of his creations stood out, not for their action-packed sequences or dialogue, but for their sheer absence of them. Ever read a story that's almost purely idea-driven, devoid of characters, and brimming with just... concepts? Welcome to Anvil's world. Take "Gadget vs. Trend", for instance. A tale told via a series of newspaper reports, unpacking the implications of an invention or trend. It's like reading the Wall Street Journal in an alternate universe.

It would be criminal not to mention novels like "The Day the Machines Stopped" or "The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun". These weren't just titles; they were promises of journeys that looped from the absurd to the profound, from chuckle-inducing misadventures to head-scratching conundrums.

In his heyday, Anvil was quite the darling of Astounding/Analog, frequently playing into editor John W. Campbell's love for tales where brainy humans outfox even brainier aliens. His yarns often took the format of "earthlings in a pickle, but wait... eureka!" And who didn’t love a good eureka moment? You can search the Nest for articles on Anvil, Christopher (Christopher Anvil) over at