Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXXII (Brunner + Sargent + Simak + Harrison)

Dallas, TX Half Price Books haul Part II [Part I].

Only 2thD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature has read more John Brunner novels than me (an overstatement of course).  At last count I have read somewhere near eighteen of his novels (as diligent readers of my site know, I consider the 1968 masterpiece Stand on Zanzibar my single favorite SF novel).  So, when I encounter any of the legions of his novels/short story collections that I have not yet read I snatch them up without a second thought.  The most appealing thing about Double, Double (1969) might be the delightful name Brunner came up with for a band that somehow features in the plot–Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition.

Pamela Sargent’s Cloned Lives (1976) is the “other” SF novel about cloning released that year — the more famous is Kate Wilhelm’s stunning (and moody) Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976).  I had high hopes for Sargent’s vision but considering I have already read more than half the novel I think they have been dashed to small bits — alas (review forthcoming).

And there is nothing wrong with more Clifford D. Simak and Harry Harrison.

As always, some intriguing covers….

1. Double, Double, John Brunner (1969) (MY REVIEW)

(Uncredited cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “Inkosi — the magnificent Ridgeback.  Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition — a pop-rock-mod group consisting in part of Bruno Twentyman, Cressida Begga, Gideon Hard, Liz, Hancy, Glenn and others.  Dr. Tom Reedwall, who works for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.  Miss Felicia Beeding, a pathetically daffy old drunk, living in a burned out house above a chalk cliff.  Joseph Leigh-Warren, a rundown journalist, mostly sour, sometimes vicious.  Sergeant Brankstone and Rodge Sellers of the local constabulary.  Radio Jolly Roger — a piratical broadcasting station whose personel sometimes fished.  And many more.  What peculiar invisibility tied these disparate types together — threatening to make them all the same?  They themselves didn’t know — and perhaps never would.

2. Cloned Lives, Pamela Sargent (1976) (MY REVIEW)

(Walter Rane’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “2000 A.D. – 2037 A.D.  The biological time bomb has explored and a new breed of human has taken shape.  THE CLONES…  There were five of them.  Each a carbon copy of the other and of their “Father,” the famous astrophysicist Paul Swenson.  There were very few of these specially bed children at the beginning of the 21st century.  And the Swenson clones became the target of much hostility and abuse.  But they had been cloned for a purpose/  And their creators were determined that they survive.  This is their story, their dreams, theirs loves, theirs terrors and the strange destiny that kept them bound as one.”

3. All Flesh is Grass, Clifford D. Simak (1965)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “Purple Destiny.  The strange but beautiful purpose blossoms now grew wild in his backyard… Brad Carter hadn’t paid them any mind for years, since his father died.  But one day he tripped and fell into an alternate world — a world people by these very flowers.  Was this beguiling “other” world connected to the very peculiar events which had suddenly occurred in Millville?  The invisible barrier that surrounded the town so that human beings could not pass through it…  The cordless telephones without dials which offered communication with a voice that had three distinct personalities…  The bizarre behavior of some of the town’s most disreputable citizens…”

4. Captive Universe, Harry Harrison (1969)

captive universe,harrison

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “Twenty-one-year-old, rebellios Chimal wants desperately to escape his native valley — an ancient Aztec civilization sealed off from the outside world.  The cruel gods and priests who rule this valley with despotic laws perpetuate a life of fear and frenzy.  Coaticule the Dreadful walks the river at night in search of taboo-breakers.  One glance at her twin serpent heads instantly kills the beholder, sending him straight to the underworld.  Citlallatonac, the fearful first priest, performs delicate operations on anyone believed to be possessed by the gods — sacrificial operations, that is.  Chimal escapes — but the world outside, at once futuristic and backward, reverential and hostile, promises a nightmare he never bargained for….”

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24 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXXII (Brunner + Sargent + Simak + Harrison)”

  1. I found it funny on wikipedia when I looked up some of Brunner’s works, I came across this:
    Spider Robinson dismissed the novel, (“Double, Double”) saying, “There just ain’t all that much right with it. . . . It’s a shame writers have to do this stuff to stay alive.”

    I’ll place my bet that if Joachim tells us it’s a good story, it really is and we can further by saying: “There just ain’t all that much right with Spider Robinson..” (!)

    Oh, and… coincidentally, Robinson never wrote anything of serious consideration. Haha.

    1. Well, I know for a fact that Brunner wrote complete crud (The Dramaturges of Yan, the novellas in Interstellar Empire, etc) as well a few gems (Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, Meeting at Infinity, Shockwave Rider, The Jagged Orbit, etc)….

      I have never read any of Spider Robinson’s novels. hmm.

      1. Captive Universe and clones lives! I know, I’m excited to explore your blog. I have been walking in circles around the book store lately so now I have somewhere to find a new book list for the new year. Thanks! 🙂

      2. I was so disappointed. I finished the novel today. I’ll have a review up soon.

        Here are all my reviews organized by rating [here].

        (note: I tend to like literary/experimental/thought-provoking SF over pulp or pulp inspired plot driven works)

    1. At one point before my self-imposed restriction to reading 40s-70s SF exclusively I read a few of her works… I want to start the Patternist sequence — the first three novels were written in the 70s and Kindred (1979) was as well.

  2. I have that ‘Double, Double’ book, I’ll have to check it out, if only because of that band name!

    ‘All Flesh is Grass’ is one of Simak’s pastoral themed books. It is derivative of his ‘Way Station’ and ‘The Big Front Yard’, but I quite liked it anyway.

      1. Yeah, one of the other Simak books (I have yet to list in an acquisitions post) I purchased was Time is the Simplest Thing. As Peter knows, I have a love had relationship with Simak. I adored Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967) but dislike works such as A Choice of Gods (1971)…. I find his pastoral anti-technological obsessions rather hypocritical at times (in A Choice of Gods the humans are DISEASE FREE hence they don’t need technology — surprise, surprise!).

        https://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/?s=a+choice+of+gods

    1. What was so appealing about it? (my issue isn’t with the fact that his SF is often pastoral it’s that technology is still a major part of his “utopian-esque” societies but it’s not addressed).

      It’s easy to live on a farm if you have robots doing all your work for example (again, in A Choice of Gods) or if you have no diseases (A Choice of Gods) and the ability to commune with others across the galaxy (A Choice of Gods). But the book, propped up with such crazy propositions that these are somehow “natural,” comes off hollow when he proclaims a let’s get back to our roots mantra.

  3. Spider Robinson’s Telempath was one of the first SF novels I ever read, when I was about 18, in the mid-80’s. However, I just had to look up the plot as I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it, meaning it obviously did not stay with me in any real sense. What I do – vaguely – remember is that it was kind of average and underwealming. And it was completely overshadowed by two other brilliant books I read, around the same time; Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine and Clifford D. Simak’s City, which show up how pedestrian Telempath was in comparison, as I can still remember amazing scenes and impressions from those two other novels, but nothing at all from Telempath. I still don’t recognise the story, after checking it online, but I know that I definitely read the whole book – a damning indictment, if ever there was one.

    I think the main reasons I bought Telempath in the first place was because I liked the title, I liked the cover art (whoever it was by) and I liked ‘Spider’ as a first name! Don’t bother about the actual novel, though, as it is instantly forgettable, and put me off ever reading Robinson again (having said that, I have heard that his co-authored novel Stardance is pretty good).

    As always, a very intriguing selection, Joachim, and I eagerly look forward to the eventual reviews. I love the Powers cover for the Simak novel too – just beautiful…

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