Christopher Anvil

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Harry Christopher Crosby, Jr.
Born(1925-03-11)March 11, 1925
Norwich, Connecticut, United States
DiedNovember 30, 2009(2009-11-30) (aged 84)
Cayuta, New York, United States
Pen nameChristopher Anvil
OccupationNovelist, short story author
GenreScience fiction

Christopher Anvil (March 11, 1925 – November 30, 2009[1]) is a pseudonym used by American author Harry Christopher Crosby. He was born in Norwich, Connecticut, the only child of Harry Clifton Crosby and Rose Glasbrenner. He began publishing science fiction with the story "Cinderella, Inc." in the December 1952 issue of the science fiction magazine Imagination. By 1956, he had adopted his pseudonym and was being published in Astounding Magazine.

Anvil's repeated appearances in Astounding/Analog were due in part to his ability to write to one of Campbell's preferred plots: alien opponents with superior firepower losing out to the superior intelligence or indomitable will of humans. A second factor is his stories are nearly always humorous throughout. Another was his characterization and manner of story crafting, where his protagonists slid from disaster to disaster with the best of intentions, and through exercise of fast thinking, managed to snatch victory somehow from the jaws of defeat.

According to David Weber, who acknowledges being influenced by Anvil in the introduction to the anthology[2]:Introduction by David Weber, p. 3 Interstellar Patrol:

An Anvil character triumphs by shooting the rapids, by caroming from one obstacle to another, adapting and overcoming as he goes. In many ways, his characters are science-fiction descendants of Odysseus, the scheming fast thinker who dazzles his opponents with his footwork. Of course, sometimes it's a little difficult to tell whether they're dazzling an opponent with their footwork, or skittering across a floor covered in ball bearings. But Anvil has the technique and the skill to bring them out triumphant in the end, and watching them dance is such a delightful pleasure.[2]:Introduction by David Weber, p. 3

One of Anvil's best-known short stories is "Pandora's Planet", which appeared first in Astounding Magazine in September 1956 and has since been reprinted several times, including an appearance in the first volume of Anvil's works published in hardcover by Baen's Books, Pandora's Legions and it has also been "fixed-up" into a full-length novel.

Anvil also published a number of stories taking place within the Federation of Humanity (The term originates in the sub-title of the third anthology title released by Baen: Interstellar Patrol II, "The Federation of Humanity"[3]).

Without a doubt, Christopher Anvil's richest and most developed setting was what he and John Campbell—who edited Astounding/Analog magazine where most of the stories originally appeared—called "the Colonization series." Anvil wrote over thirty stories in that setting, ranging in length from short stories to the novel Warlord's World.

[2]:Editor's forward

Anvil himself, as well as John Campbell, referred to these stories as the Colonization Series prior to them being released as collections.[2]:Editor's forward

The stories deal with characters in different human government organizations, dealing with adventures, gadgetry and subterfuge both internal and external.

The bulk of Anvil's published writing consists of short stories. Many of them are almost purely idea-driven science fiction. Some of the most striking, for example "Gadget vs. Trend", entirely lack dialogue and almost entirely lack characters; these stories consist of a series of newspaper reports or other similar materials. In these and other stories, Anvil's technique is to put forth a gadget, invention, or social trend and logically develop the consequences.[citation needed]



  1. ^ "Christopher Anvil 1925-2009", Locus, December 9, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Anvil, Christopher (April 2003) [dated variously, mainly 1960's in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (Science Fiction) Magazine]. Interstellar Patrol. edited by Eric Flint, Cover art by Mark Hennessey-Barratt (First ed.). Riverdale, NY 10471: Baen Publishing Enterprises. ISBN 0-7434-3600-8. I'm delighted that someone is making Christopher Anvil's work available once again. Especially the Interstellar Patrol stories. Vaughan Roberts, Morrissey, and Hammell have always been three of my very favorite characters, and I've always loved Anvil's . . . peculiar sense of humor. I suppose, if I'm going to be honest, that Roberts' J-class ship is another of my favorite characters. In fact, although I hadn't realized it until I sat down to write this introduction, I suspect that there was a lot of the Patrol boat's computer hiding somewhere in the depths of my memory when I created Dahak for the Mutineers' Moon series. After all, Dahak is simply another self-aware ship kidnapping itself a captain on a somewhat larger scale. They even have a few personality traits in common.
  3. ^ Baen Books by Anvil Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved: 11-30-2007

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