The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “Encased in the Amber of Eternity,” by Robert Frazier

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “Encased in the Amber of Eternity,” by Robert Frazier

Cover by Vincent di Fate
Cover by Vincent di Fate

Cover by Tim Mullins
Cover by Tim Mullins

The Rhysling Awards, named for Robert A. Heinlein’s poet from The Green Hills of Earth, were established by the Science Fiction Poetry Association in 1978. Both the association and the award were founded by Suzette Haden Elgin. Each year, awards are given for Short Form poetry and Long Form poetry. The first three years of the award resulted in ties, with three poems tying in the first year, and two each tying in the second and third year.

Robert Frazier’s poem “Encased in the Amber of Eternity” depicts a Pacific Northwest in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has depopulated the North American continent (and presumably most of the rest of the world). His imagery moves briskly from descriptions of various objects associated with lights and fire representing the falling missiles, to the bone-like remnants of human civilization, represented by Portland. The poem’s narrator, who seems to be a survivalist type, has managed to come through the catastrophe and offers a glimpse of hope that he will be able to find other survivors to rebuilt some sort of civilization, or, even if it is only him, at least he is still around.

Frazier uses repetitive imagery, although not repetition of phrases to build a sense of the destruction and following desolation from the nuclear attacks. That repetition falls apart as the poem begins to look at the unknown future that will have to be rebuilt. The poem is short, but contains a fully realized setting, even if the story it relates is left open-ended.

“Encased in the Amber of Eternity” was the first of a series of related poems Frazier published between 1979 and 1981, which also included “Encased in the Amber of Death,” “Encased in the Amber of Fate,” and “Encased in the Amber of Time.” The first three poems appeared in The Future at War series edited by Reginald Bretnor, notably in Thor’s Hammer, The Spear of Mars, and Orion’s Sword. After that series ended, the final poem appeared in A Spadeful of Spacetime, edited by Fred Saberhagen.

Frazier attended the Clarion Writers Workshop in 1980 and went on to attend the Sycamore Hill Writer’s Workshop. In addition to publishing fiction and poetry, he has also worked as an oil painter and a graphic designer, working with Mark V. Zeising Books for a time designing their books.

Frazier’s poem tied for the Rhysling Award for short poetry with Peter Payack’s poem “The Migration of Darkness.”


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. His most recent anthology, Alternate Peace was published in June. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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