The Dancer from Atlantis

The Dancer from Atlantis

by Poul Anderson

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The Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson

A mesmerizing tale of adventure and romance: An anomaly of time transports a twentieth-century man backward through history toward the greatest catastrophe the world has ever known

Looking out over the Pacific Ocean from the deck of a luxury cruise liner, American architect Duncan Reid is suddenly caught up in an inexplicable event—and when he awakens he is somewhere . . . different. Duncan has inadvertently fallen victim to a fatally malfunctioning time machine from the future, along with three equally startled companions from vastly different epochs and civilizations, and now he stands with them on the rocky Mediterranean coast of Egypt in the year 4000 BCE. With the aid of miraculous technology supplied by the dying time machine, the displaced four are able to communicate and share their stories, the most startling being the tale told by the one woman among them, the bewitching Erissa. Only decades removed from her actual time, she claims to be a priestess from Atlantis who views Duncan as a god, and she represents perhaps their only hope of returning to their rightful eras. But to do so will entail immersing themselves in the savage turmoil of an ancient world and placing themselves in harm’s way on the eve of the most terrible devastation in human history.
A true giant of twentieth-century fantasy and science fiction, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Poul Anderson astounds once more with a powerful adventure through history and legend that set a towering standard for time travel fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497694262
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/30/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 198
Sales rank: 131,855
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Poul Anderson (1926–2001) grew up bilingual in a Danish American family. After discovering science fiction fandom and earning a physics degree at the University of Minnesota, he found writing science fiction more satisfactory. Admired for his “hard” science fiction, mysteries, historical novels, and “fantasy with rivets,” he also excelled in humor. He was the guest of honor at the 1959 World Science Fiction Convention and at many similar events, including the 1998 Contact Japan 3 and the 1999 Strannik Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Besides winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards, he has received the Gandalf, Seiun, and Strannik, or “Wanderer,” Awards. A founder of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he became a Grand Master, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
In 1952 he met Karen Kruse; they married in Berkeley, California, where their daughter, Astrid, was born, and they later lived in Orinda, California. Astrid and her husband, science fiction author Greg Bear, now live with their family outside Seattle.

Poul Anderson (1926–2001) grew up bilingual in a Danish American family. After discovering science fiction fandom and earning a physics degree at the University of Minnesota, he found writing science fiction more satisfactory. Admired for his “hard” science fiction, mysteries, historical novels, and “fantasy with rivets,” he also excelled in humor. He was the guest of honor at the 1959 World Science Fiction Convention and at many similar events, including the 1998 Contact Japan 3 and the 1999 Strannik Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Besides winning the Hugo and Nebula Awards, he has received the Gandalf, Seiun, and Strannik, or “Wanderer,” Awards. A founder of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he became a Grand Master, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

In 1952 he met Karen Kruse; they married in Berkeley, California, where their daughter, Astrid, was born, and they later lived in Orinda, California. Astrid and her husband, science fiction author Greg Bear, now live with their family outside Seattle.

Read an Excerpt

The Dancer from Atlantis

By Poul Anderson


Copyright © 1971 Trigonier Trust
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-9426-2


'Full moon tonight,' he said. 'Come up on deck with me. It should be beautiful.'

'No, I'm tired,' she answered. 'You go. I'd rather stay here'

Duncan Reid made himself look squarely at his wife and say, 'I thought this was our trip.'

Pamela sighed. 'Of course. Later, dear, please. I'm sorry to be such a rotten sailor, but I am. All the bad weather we've been having till now. Oh, the pills kept me from getting actually sick, but I never felt quite good either.'

He continued to regard her. A dozen years ago, when they married, she was well endowed. Later a waxing plumpness became her despair, dieting her anguish. He had tried to say, 'Don't weep over it. Take more exercise. Mainly, remember you're still a damned attractive woman.' And she was, fair-complexioned, blue-eyed, with soft brown hair and regular features and gentle-looking mouth. But he was less and less often able to say it successfully.

'Seems I made a mistake, booking us onto a ship.' He heard how bitterness tinged his voice, and saw that she did too.

'Well, you knew I can't go on your sailboat,' she retorted. 'Or backpacking or—' Her head drooped, as did her tone, 'Let's not start that quarrel again.'

His glance went past her, across the impersonal coziness of their cabin, to the picture of their children on the dresser. 'Maybe we should,' he replied slowly. 'We don't have to worry about them for a while, what they might overhear. Maybe we should bring things out into the open at last.'

'What things?' She sounded almost frightened. For an instant he saw her immaculate gown and grooming as armor. 'What are you talking about?'

He retreated. 'I ... I can't find words. Nothing obvious. Spats over ridiculous issues, irritations we learned to live with very early in the game, or imagined we had – I'd, uh, I'd hoped this could be, well, I told you, a second honeymoon —' His tongue knotted up on him.

He wanted to cry something like: Have we simply been losing interest in each other? Then how? Nothing physical, surely; not to such a degree; why, I'm a mere forty, you thirty-nine, and we still have enough good times to know how many more we might have. But they've been getting steadily more rare. I've been busy and you, perhaps, have been bored in spite of your assorted bustling around; after dinner I'll read a book in my study while you watch television in the living room, till the first who grows sleepy says a polite good night and goes to bed.

Why won't you come on deck with me, Pam? What a night it must be for love! Not that I feel hot especially, but I want to feel hot, for you. I could, if you'd let me.

'I'm sorry,' she repeated, and patted his head. He wished he could tell how real the gesture was. 'I am tired, though.'

Of me?' came out before he could stop it.

'No, no, no. Never.' She came to him, laid arms around his waist. He patted her back. To him both motions felt automatic.

'We used to have adventures,' he said. 'Remember? Newly wed and poor and making do.'

'I didn't think scrimping along in that horrible cramped apartment was an adventure.' She broke off her words, but also from him. 'Let me get my coat, darling.'

'Not as a, uh, duty,' he protested, knowing that was the wrong thing to say but: not sure what would have been right.

'I've changed my mind. I could use a stroll.' Her smile was extremely bright. 'It's stuffy in here. And the ventilator's noisy.'

'No, please. I understand. You do need rest.' He stepped to the closet and fetched his own topcoat in one hurried motion. 'And I'll be kind of galloping. Want to stretch my legs. You don't enjoy that.' He avoided seeing her face as he departed.

Topside he did in fact stride himself breathless around and around the main deck. Once he went up to the forepeak, but left it after he came upon a young couple necking there. Presently he felt somewhat less churned and stopped by the rail for a smoke.

The wind, rain, fog, and heavy, hacking waves of springtime in the North Pacific had died down. The air was cool, alive with unnamed sea odors and a low breeze, and it was clear; despite the moon, he had seldom seen as many stars as glittered in that lucent blackness. The light lay in a shivering road across waters whose crests it made sparkle and whose troughs it made sheen like molten obsidian. They murmured, those waters, and rushed and hissed and lapped, most softly in their immensity, and took to themselves the throb of engines and gave back the slight trembling of hull and deck.

His pipe started, Reid cradled the bowl in his hand for a bit of warmth and hearthglow. He had always found peace on the sea. Lovely and inhuman. Lovely because inhuman? He'd attempted to make Pam see that, but she didn't care for Robinson Jeffers either.

He stared at the moon, low to aft. Does it make any difference to you that four men's footprints have marked you? he wondered. Recognizing the thought as childish, he looked outward and ahead. But yonder lay the seemingly endless war. And behind, at home, was the seemingly endless upward ratcheting of hate and fear; and Mark, and Tom (as he, a proud nine years of age, now insisted on being called), and little, little Bitsy, whom there was so short a time to cherish before they must walk forth into a world breaking apart beneath them. When you considered those things, what importance had two people, middle-class, slipping into middle age, other than what was conferred on them by the inverse square law?

Reid's mouth quirked wryly around the pipestem. He thought: Too bad you can't quantify the statics and dynamics of being human in neat vectors, or develop a tensor calculus for the stresses in a marriage. – The smoke rolled pungent over his tongue and palate.

'Good evening, sir.'

Turning, Reid identified the moon-whitened shape: Mike Stockton, third engineer. Aboard a passenger-carrying freighter, acquaintanceships developed fast. However, he hadn't chanced to see much of this particular officer.

'Why, hello,' he said reflexively. 'Nice night, isn't it?'

'Sure is. Mind if I join you? I'm due on watch in a few minutes.'

Am I lonely for everyone to see? wondered Reid. And then: Cut that out. You're at the point of sniveling. A bit of talk may well be precisely what you need. 'Do stay. Think the weather will hold?'

'The forecasters do. The whole way to Yokohama, if we're lucky. Will you and your wife be in Japan long?'

A couple of months. We'll fly back.' The kids will be okay at Jack and Barbara's, Reid thought; but still, when we walk in that door and Bitsy sees her daddy and comes running on her stumpy legs, arms out and laughing—

'I know the country just enough to envy you.' Stockton scanned Reid as if, in an amiable fashion, he meant it.

He saw a lanky, rawboned, wide-shouldered six-footer, a long craggy head, jutting nose and chin, heavy black brows over gray eyes, sandy hair, no-longer- fashionable turtleneck sweater beneath the coat. Even in the tuxedos he must sometimes wear, and after Pamela's most careful valeting, Reid managed to appear rumpled.

'Well, a business trip for me. I'm an architect, you may remember. Quit my job recently to form a partnership.' Pamela didn't like the risk. But she'd liked less the drabness of semi-poverty in their first years, when he refused to accept a subsidy from her parents; and she'd stuck that out, and now they were in the 20-K bracket and if his try at independence failed (though he was bloody well resolved it wouldn't) he could always find another position somewhere. 'Considering the strong Japanese influence in homebuilding nowadays,' Reid went on, 'I figured I'd sniff around after, well, all right, inspiration at the source. In provincial villages especially.'

Pam might holler. She wanted her comfort.... No! He'd fallen into an ugly habit of doing her injustice. She'd joined his outings, and apologized afterward for spoiling them with a humbleness that came near breaking his heart, and finally stayed behind when he went. Had he tried as hard to interest himself in her bridge games, her volunteer work at the youth center and the hospital, even her favorite TV programs?

'You're from Seattle, aren't you, Mr. Reid?' Stockton asked. 'I'm a native myself.'

'I'm a mere immigrant, as of five years ago. Chicago previously, since getting out of the Army. Before then, Wisconsin, et cetera, back to dear old Boston. The American story.'

Reid realized he was babbling of matters that could not imaginably interest the other man. It wasn't his usual behavior. If anything, he was too withdrawn unless a few beers or a couple of Scotches had relaxed him. Tonight he was seeking to escape his thoughts. And why not? If he'd shaken off the Presbyterian theology of his boyhood, did he have to carry around the associated conscience?

'Uh, I'd visited Seattle before and liked the place,' he continued almost helplessly, 'but at first the only halfway decent job offer I got was in Chicago. A concrete monstrosity, that town. They said there you'd better wear glasses, whether or not you needed them, or somebody would unscrew your eyeballs.'

He'd kept remembering people who were relaxed and friendly, and boats white-winged on Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier's snowpeak floating high and pure above, and virgin forest a couple of hours' drive from downtown. To Pam, of course, Chicago was home. Well, Evanston was, which made a difference. When he finally landed a position in Seattle and they moved, she found the city a backwater, where the weather seemed to be mostly leaden skies, or rain, or fog, or rain, or snow, or rain.... Had he, waiting happily for the next cataract of sunshine, failed to notice how the rain gnawed at her?

'Yeah, we're lucky, I guess, living where we do,' Stockton said. 'Apart from those medieval liquor laws.'

Reid chuckled. 'Come, now. No medieval king would have dared pass liquor laws that barbaric'

Then, as his mood was lifting a trifle, Stockton told him, 'I'd better go on to the engine room. Nice talking,' and was quickly out of sight.

Reid sighed, leaned elbows on rail, and drew on his pipe. The night sea went hush-hush-hush. Tomorrow Pam might feel happier. He could hope for that, and hope Japan would turn out to be a fairytale as advertised, and beyond—

Beyond? His mind, free-associating, conjured up a globe. Besides excellent spatial perception, which he'd better have in his profession, he was gifted with an uncommon memory. He could draw the course if the ship continued past Yokohama. It wouldn't. The owners knew better. Reach Southeast Asia, or pretty close. Hard to understand that at this moment human beings were maiming and killing human beings whose names they would never know. Damn the ideologies! When would the torment be over? Or had every year always been tragic, would every year always be? Reid remembered another young man who died in another war, a lifetime ago, and certain lines he had written.

The way of love was thus.
He was born one winter morn
With hands delicious,
And it was well with us.

Love came our quiet way,
Lit pride in us, and died in us,
All in a winter's day.
There is no more to say.

Rupert Brooke could say it, though. Thanks for that, Dad. An English professor in a tiny Midwestern college hadn't had a lot of money for his children – wherefore Reid, earning his own, needed an extra year to graduate – but he gave them stubbornness about what was right, wide-ranging curiosity, the friendship of books – maybe too close a friendship, stealing time that was really Pam's.... No more brooding, Reid decided. A few final turns around the deck, and probably by then she'd have fallen asleep and he could do likewise.

He clamped the pipe between his teeth and straightened.

And the vortex seized him, the black thunders, he had no moment to cry in before he was snatched from the world.


Where the Dnieper snaked in its eastward bend, grassland gave way to high bluffs through which the river hastened, ringing aloud as it dashed itself over rocks and down rapids. Here ships must be unloaded and towed, in several places hauled ashore on rollers, and cargoes must be portaged. Formerly this had been the most dangerous part of the yearly voyage. Pecheneg tribesmen were wont to lurk nearby, ready to ride down upon the crews when these were afoot and vulnerable, plunder their goods and make slaves of whoever were not lucky enough to be killed. Oleg Vladimirovitch had been in one such fight as an apprentice. In it, by God's grace, the Russians sent the raiders off bewailing their own dead and took many husky prisoners to sell in Constantinople.

Things were far better since Grand Prince Yaroslav – what a man, cripple though he was! – trounced the heathen. He did it at the gates of Kiev, so thoroughly that ravens afterward gorged themselves till they could not fly and no Pecheneg was ever again seen in his realm. Oleg was in the host on that wondrous day: his first taste of real war, thirteen years ago, he a fuzzy-cheeked lout of seventeen winters. Later he rode against the Lithuanians, and later still sailed on the ill-fated expedition against the Imperial city. But mainly he was a trader, who wanted no troubles that cut into profit. (Tavern brawls didn't count, they nourished the soul, if you made sure to clear out before the Emperor's police arrived.) He was happy that the Greeks were likewise sensible and, soon after throwing back the Russians, resumed business with them.

'Yes,' he said to the bumper of kvass in his hand, 'peace and brotherly love, those are good for trade, as Our Lord preached when he walked this earth.'

He stood on a clifftop overlooking the stream and the fleet. It was beneath the dignity of a shipowner to haul on cables or lug bales; and he had three vessels by now, not bad for a boy who in birchbark leggings had run traplines through northern woods. His skippers could oversee the work. But sentries were needed. Not that anyone expected bandits; however, the furs, hides, amber, tallow, beeswax being transported would fetch a price down south that just might draw many masterless landloupers together for a single swoop.

'To you, Ekaterina Borisovna,' Oleg said, raising his cup. It was for traveling, wooden, albeit silver-trimmed to show the world that he was a man of consequence at home in Novgorod.

While the thin sour beer went down, he was thinking less of his wife or, for that matter, various slave and servant girls, than of a tricksy little minx at journey's end last year. Would Zoe again be available? If so, that gave him an added reason, besides extending his connections among the foreign merchants resident in Constantinople, for wintering there. Though Zoe, hm, over several months Zoe might prove painfully expensive.

Bees hummed in clover, cornflowers blazed blue as the over-arching, sun-spilling sky. Below Oleg, men swarmed about the bright-hued swan- and dragon-headed ships. They must be longing for the Black Sea: in oars and up mast, loaf and let the wind carry you on, never thinking about the currents, never caring that that was when the poor devil of an owner must worry most about a wreck. Their shouts and oaths were lost across a mile or two, blent into the clangor of great Father Dnieper. These heights knew quietness, heat, sweat trickling down ribs and soaking into the quilted padding beneath the chainmail coat, which began to drag on the shoulders, but high, high overhead a lark chanted, and the joy floated earthward while a mild buzzing from the beer rose to meet it....

Oleg smiled at everything which lay in his tomorrows.

And the vortex took him.

Winters were less strong here than on the plains over which Uldin's forebears went drifting and storming. Here snowfall was scant, most years, and a man had no need to grease his face against the cold. But he could nevertheless lose livestock to hunger and weather if he did not ride the range and take care of his beasts – especially when lambing time drew near.

Uldin's followers numbered only half a dozen, including two unarmed slaves. The East Goths had fled into a Roman realm which would not likely prove hospitable. Some stayed, of course, the slain and those who were captured and beaten into meekness. For the past three years the Huns had lived in peace, settling into their newly conquered land.


Excerpted from The Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson. Copyright © 1971 Trigonier Trust. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Dancer from Atlantis 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am trying so hard to get thru this but I just keep putting it down. Unbelievable so far and all characters are unlikable. Main male character seems to know too much about too many subjects for his profession, at least at the level of depth and detail he decribes. Not sure how their return pivots on the female except that she keeps saying he has been with her before. Anyway, hard slogging so far and haven't hit halfway point yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
writer-historyreader More than 1 year ago
Before there was Harry Turtledove, there was Paul Anderson spoinning tales from history to see if we could change things. In Dancer, an American finds himself transported back to the time before Atlantis disappeared below the waves. Read it and enjoy.