[PW] Request help tracing Poul Anderson quotation

d-lien University of Minnesota d-lien at umn.edu
Sun Jun 14 16:24:31 PDT 2015

The "extracted text" as you have it is word for word and punctuation
mark for punctuation mark identical to the exchange on p.12 (second
column) of the story in the April 1957 ASTOUNDING.

Dennis Lien / d-lien at umn.edu

On Sun, Jun 14, 2015 at 3:26 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> A humorous quotation about complexity has been attributed to the
> prominent science fiction author Poul Anderson, and I was sent a
> request to investigate its provenance. Maybe the science fiction
> enthusiasts on this list can help.
> Some important reference works listed the following version:
> [Begin excerpt]
> I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you
> looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
> [End excerpt]
> These references did not list a citation for a story by Anderson;
> instead, a "New Scientist" article from 1969 written by William Thorpe
> was listed. Also, I think that the phrasing of the quotation in the
> references was slightly inaccurate. The quotation given by Thorpe was
> probably based on a flawed memory. The contractions in the original
> were different and the word "in" was inserted in the later version.
> Using data from Google Books, Amazon Look Inside, and The Internet
> Speculative Fiction Database I've assembled the following tentative
> citation and text. Perhaps someone has access to this 1957 issue of
> "Astounding Science Fiction"? The goal is to obtain a complete and
> accurate citation, and determine the exact text (especially the second
> paragraph).
> This tale has been reprinted often, and I have been able to check the
> text using recent reprints, but it is desirable to check the earliest
> published instances on paper or with scans because text in reprints is
> sometimes altered / revised.
> If you are unable to check this perhaps you can help with the 1962 or
> 1969 cites further below.
> Date: April 1957
> Periodical: Astounding Science Fiction
> Editor: John W. Campbell, Jr.
> Story Title: Call Me Joe
> Story Author: Poul Anderson
> Publisher: Street & Smith Publications, New York
> Start Page 8
> Quote Page 12
> https://books.google.com/books?id=dZQnAQAAIAAJ
> [Begin extracted text]
> Cornelius followed, wallowing
> awkwardly. "It is very interesting,
> no doubt," he puffed. "Fascinating.
> But really, Dr. Viken, to drag me
> way out here and make me spend
> a year-plus waiting for the next ship
> . . . to do a job which may take me
> a few weeks--"
> "Are you sure it's that simple?"
> asked Viken gently. His face
> swiveled around, and there was
> something in his eyes that silenced
> Cornelius. "After all my time here,
> I've yet to see any problem, how-
> ever complicated, which when you
> looked at it the right way didn't
> become still more complicated."
> [End extracted text]
> The Internet Speculative Fiction Database lists some of the places
> where the story has been reprinted. Perhaps someone can check the 1962
> reprint given below. The quotation should be present about three to
> five pages into the story. Please double check the metadata.
> http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?55693
> Year: 1962
> Title: A Century of Science Fiction
> Editor: Damon Knight
> Publisher: Simon & Schuster, New York
> Story Title: Call Me Joe
> Story Author: Poul Anderson
> Quote Page 281 (probably)
> Finally, if you have access to old 1969 issues of "New Scientist" on
> paper or microfilm perhaps you could determine the context of the
> quotation given by Thorpe. I'd like to know the sentences before and
> after the quotation. Scans of the article would be very helpful.
> Date: September 25, 1969
> Periodical: New Scientist
> Volume 43
> Article Title: Reductionism v. Organicism
> Article Author: William Thorpe
> Quote Page 638
> [Begin excerpt]
> I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you
> looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
> [End excerpt]
> Thanks for any help you can provide.
> Garson O'Toole
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