Sunday, May 28, 2017

Furry Fun in Space

by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson

Hoka!  (Hoka, #3)

“So much American science fiction is parochial -- not as true now as it was years ago, but the assumption is one culture in the future, more or less like ours, and with the same ideals, the same notions of how to do things, just bigger and flashier technology. Well, you know darn well it doesn't work that way...”   ― Poul Anderson

What is a Hoka? It is a furry creature living on an earthlike planet called Toka on the edge of the known universe. They are a race unlike any other yet discovered, for although they resemble bears they can change their appearance. This book is a compilation of some of the stories about these creatures written by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson.

In the prologue to the collected tales we learn that Toka, which means "Earth", has two intelligent species who have evolved into the Hokas and the Slissii. The former are mammalian while the latter are reptiloid. Conflict was endemic until the arrival of the "Interplanetary League" at which time the Slissii were persuaded to abandon the planet for other territories (this apparently led to problems elsewhere). The Hokas on the other hand welcomed the tutelage of the League and in their own unique way adopted the culture and mores of their visitors in an all too literal way.

The stories included in this volume provide evidence of the comedy (mostly) resulting from the literal adoption of the milieus of Baseball (think "Casey at the Bat"), Kipling's Jungle Books, the Napoleonic era, and more. I found the stories quirky enough for smiles and a chuckle or two, but some might find them "laugh out loud" funny. This volume provides an view of what might happen if in the distant future we explore and fail to obey "the Prime Directive".


Brian Joseph said...

I really like the Poul Anderson books that I have read but I have not read any of the Hoka stories. I do not think that I have read anything by Gordon R. Dickson.

They sounds very thoughtful and entreating. I would like to give them a try.

James said...


This was my first encounter with the Hokas, but not with either Anderson or Dickson. I think you would find the book more entertaining than thoughtful, but very imaginative nonetheless.

Fred said...


I've read a couple of the Hoka stories, but years ago and I don't remember anything except for the basic premise.

Weren't there a couple of the original StarTrek episodes based on the same premise? I think I remember a prohibition era one and one based on the gunfight at the OK Corral.

James said...


Thanks for your comment. Our SF book group discussed this issue, particularly noting the episode set in the prohibition era. Perhaps the Star Trek writers were aware of these stories as the Hokas first appeared as SF magazine stories in the fifties.