64. Earthman’s Burden


Poul Anderson
Gordon R. Dickson

Poul Anderson (1926-2001) and Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001) were born just a few years after Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl but started publishing a decade later, the crucial difference being that their late teenaged years fell into World War II. Anderson didn’t waste much time after the war. He sold his first story, to Astounding naturally, when he was still 20. Dickson’s career was more seriously impacted. His first sale was put off until the Spring 1950 Fantastic Story Quarterly, a collaboration with Anderson. They were, in fact, classmates at the University of Minnesota, both graduating in 1948.

In 1951, they collaborated again, this time on a yarn about a race of alien teddy-bears who loved Earthian culture so much that they began living it. More Hoka stories followed, allowing the two to spoof pirates and Sherlock Holmes. Earthman’s Burden – SF writers of that era notoriously revered Rudyard Kipling, and the attitude of Golden Age writers toward aliens is consistently imperialistic, if not actively racist, in tone – collects the first five Hoka stories and adds a new one. Three more stories were added to the series in 1957, timed to appear alongside the Gnome compilation. A young adult Hoka novel, Star Prince Charlie, appeared in 1975. A last hurrah, “The Napoleon Crime,” finished off the Hoka stories in 1983.

Both Anderson and Dickson wrote prodigiously in fantasy and science fiction for the next half-century, wining a total of fourteen Hugo and Nebula awards. In the down years around 1960, when the market for science fiction nearly disappeared, Anderson dabbled with equal success in historical and mystery fiction, winning the Cock Robin Award for his first mystery novel. Their names are so inextricably linked because of the fame of the Hoka stories that a thorough search of their bibliographies is needed to convince one that they never collaborated elsewhere.

Cover art by Ed Emshwiller

Notice anything odd about that cover? Look below and you’ll see I credit the original publication of “The Tiddlywink Warriors” to the August 1955 issue of F&SF. It’s there, but it didn’t make the cover. In a rare, unique to my knowledge, instance of top authors not under pseudonyms crowding their selves out of placement, both Anderson and Dickson had separate stories of their own make the cover with the Hoka novelet relegated to the interior.

Gnome Notes

CHALKER tries to make sense of the variant bindings:

Actual in-print number, we believe, is 3000 in two bindings, the first 2000 copies in pale blue boards, about 1000 in 1959 in gray cloth; the other 2000 we believe were never bound and were destroyed by Wolff in the liquidation.

The similarities between this The Seedling Stars and Two Sought Adventure are unmistakable. All three were published in 1957 and all three have a 1959 binding using gray cloth. (Interestingly, Starman’s Quest, Undersea City, and Methuselah’s Children also each have a later, 1959, printing in gray cloth.) This title and Two Sought Adventure both have an unrecorded binding in red boards; The Seedling Stars has a red boards variant with no known priority. (The title listing on the back of each is also identical, except that The Seedling Stars inexplicably omits 1955’s Reprieve from Paradise.) The conclusion must be that Greenberg went back to Wolff and asked that additional warehoused copies be bound, using the set of red boards that happened to be available. Why do this for so few copies – few because so few have ever turned up – is another in the endless series of Gnome mysteries.

Gordon R. Dickson’s name lacks the middle initial on the dust jacket. And keeping up with the tradition of Gnome typos, the front flap speaks of a “polk-dotted rock,” probably not a salute to our 11th president.

Cover art by Mel Hunter and Malcolm Smith, not illustrating the Hoka story


George W. Earley, Hartford Courant, December 15, 1957
It’s pure entertainment, extremely well written, and a delight to read.

Floyd C. Gale, Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1958
Hoka, like pickles, is a tasty appetizer in moderation, but leaves a characteristic taste if overindulged.

Contents and original publication

• “The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch” (Other Worlds Science Stories, May 1951 as “Heroes Are Made”).

• “Interlude I” (original to this volume).

• “Don Jones” (original to this volume).

• “Interlude II” (original to this volume).

• “In Hoka Signo Vinces” (Other Worlds Science Stories, June 1953).

• “Interlude III” (original to this volume).

• “The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound” (Universe Science Fiction, December 1953).

• “Interlude IV” (original to this volume).

• “Yo Ho Hoka!” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1955).

• “Interlude V” (original to this volume).

• “The Tiddlywink Warriors” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1955).

• “Postlude” (original to this volume).

• “Mysterious Message” (original to this volume).

Bibliographic Information

Earthman’s Burden, by Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson, 1957, copyright registration 25Jul57, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 57-7111, title #64, back panel #34, 185 pages, $3.00. 5000 copies printed, 2000 bound 1957, 1000? bound 1959?, 2000 remaindered. Hardback. Jacket Design by Edd Cartier. “First edition” on copyright page. Printed in the USA by H. Wolff, New York. Interior art by Edd Cartier. Back panel: 35 titles. Gnome’s address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.

          Variants, in probable order of priority

1). (CURREY A) Pale blue boards, spine lettered in dark blue.

2) (CURREY B) Gray cloth, spine lettered in red.

3) Red boards, spine lettered in black [Not in CURREY]


Earthman’s Burden, jacket front, all variants
Earthman’s Burden, jacket flaps, all variants
Earthman’s Burden, light-blue boards, dark-blue lettering, variant 1
Earthman’s Burden, gray cloth, red lettering, variant 2
Earthman’s Burden, red boards, black lettering, variant 3