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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Roussel

Review: Earthman's Burden by Anderson & Dickson

Meet the Hokas!...the most lovable - and the zaniest - characters you'll ever encounter in the entire Universe!

Earthman's Burden is a collection of short sci-fi stories by American writers Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson. The stories contained are:


The Sheriff of Canyon Gulch Don Jones In Hoka Signo Vinces The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound Yo Ho Hoka! The Tiddlywink Warriors


Some are exactly as adorable as they sound.


Positives


I was blown away by the concept. Perhaps my favourite of the short stories was The Adventure of the Misplaced Hound which was the spoof of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.


The title, Earthman's Burden is likely a play on Rudyard Kipling's poem, The White Man's Burden - a poem with a strong colonial message and celebration of manifest destiny. Now while I was a little uncomfortable by this theme hanging over the book, the last few pages directly grapples with this concept, though briefly. The protagonist Alexander Jones asks whether human influence has been a good thing for the Hokas.


Criticisms


However, this story and the themes all felt a little half-formed. Though that's often a criticism of books which are a collection of short stories.

This was written in 1957 and there are several aspects which haven't aged well. The humour landed a little flat for me after a while.


I found the characterisation to be a little lacking. I honestly had little patience for the human protagonist, Alexander Jones whose catchphrase seems to be 'yippee'. Whereas the bears were appropriately larger than life, charactertures of their chosen ideals, the humans seemed two-dimensional.


Rating


Despite my criticisms, I'm glad to have read this and I'm considering reading Hokas Pokas! which is another collection of short stories in the Hoka world, published in 2000 making it a little more up to date.


I'll give Earthman's Burden Two Stars. Honestly, if you're looking for an easy read, a bizarrely fun concept and a bit of a chuckle, it's worth a look.

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