Poul Anderson (1926 – 2001; first SF publication, 1947) is one of those whose work I will grab solely on the basis of the author; I haven’t been disappointed yet. His novels don’t depend on deep philosophical queries (although he includes that from time to time); they are simply great reads. Anderson’s most well-known settings are the Polesotechnic League and the world of Dominic Flandry of Terran Intelligence, but he has created many other worlds. Time travel is key to some of his other most memorable works, including The Dancer from Atlantis and The Corridors of Time.
Anderson, writing with Gordon R. Dickson, created the Hoka, the original teddy-bear aliens. The Hokas and the Fuzzies of H. Beam Piper (who doesn’t appear here but deserves an honorable mention) are much more interesting than any more recent marketing-driven creations.
Nicholas Van Rijn, star-faring trader extraordinaire. When I first started considering favorite authors who write about trading through space, Anderson’s Van Rijn leaped to the front of the line. Who couldn’t love the protagonist of The Man Who Counts (both by counting money and in importance), a man who epitomizes what Star Traders is all about? And now that I’m researching Anderson’s works to complete this brief bio, I am embarassed to note one other title that I’m gonna have to track down quickly: Trader to the Stars (about Van Rijn, of course), plus Baen’s recent compilation of stories about Van Rijn’s most adventurous employee: David Falkayn: Star Trader.
Van Rijn’s company is the Solar Spice and Liquors Company, which, like Van Rijn himself, is a throwback to the Dutch merchant adventurers of the age of exploration. Rather than selecting a specific commodity from the wide range of Van Rijn’s stories, Anderson exports solar spice.