This page was last updated on 7 January 2001.

Untitled Essay on Technology

by Poul Anderson

Note: This essay is from The Faces of Science Fiction (1984) by Patti Peret. It is presented here with the permission of the author (11/26/99), for which I am eternally grateful.

Camped high on a mountain, from my sleeping bag I look out at the stars. Out, not up; they are everywhere around this planet. Knowing their vastness and what immensities reach among them, knowing that they are nuclear furnaces and that older suns long gone have forged the stuff of our bodies, makes them infinitely wonderful and beautiful to me.

The eyesight of a friend is failing so badly that now he cannot read print. However, he is getting a scanner which will project text onto a large screen and so let him back into the world of books.

I was there when a ship departing for the moon filled the night with radiance, thunder, and glory.

In the beasts of the field we see our kin; the very grass is of our own lineage.

Toil throught the waking hours, in order to scrape out a bare and precarious living, has become unnecessary.

We are, at the most, only some hours' travel from anyone we love.

The left mastoid bone lies near the speech center of the brain. In a few years after a persistent infection had set in, death would have been the least unpleasant possibility before me. Surgery with precision instruments under a special microscope removed the danger.

Now that their writings have been deciphered, people dust these thousands of years are speaking to us.

We, who thought we understood the atom, are finding mystery within mystery -- endless challenge.

The day is not so very far off when no child need ever again be born defective.

The greatest musicians play my beloved Bach for me in my own living room.

Intellectuals assure us that modern science and technology are dehumanizing.

Poul Anderson was one of the great authors of science fiction. I had the privilege of speaking him for a moment at the 1999 LOSCON science fiction convention in Burbank, where he gave me permission to present this essay.