Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIII (Zelazny + Sheckley + White + St. Clair)

Here are the rest of the books my fiancé purchased for me while on her vacation from my “to acquire” master list.  I’m having a lot of fun reading White’s All Judgement Fled (1969) so I can’t wait to read The Dream Millennium (1973)—and, who can resist overpopulation themed SF? More Sheckley stories…. always good.  A St. Clair novel and short story collection + more Zelazny.

Have you read any of them? Thoughts?

1. The Dream Millennium, James White (1973)

(John Berkley’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “Earth was a polluted, dying planet.  Violence was rampant and civilization was doomed.  If Man was to survive, John Devlin had to find him a new home somewhere in the galaxy.  He had 1,000 years to look—and 1,000 years to dream.  But all his dreams were nightmares…”

2. Shards of Space, Robert Sheckley (1962)

(Hoot von Zitzewitz’s cover for the 1962 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “The whole universe from Earth outward was trying to get Man.  Only his brain (when it works) can help him when the machines break and the systems fail.  Here is Sheckley’s dizzying expedition to the challenging, fascinating frontiers of experience.”

3. Roadmarks, Roger Zelazny (1979)

(Darrell K. Sweet’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “The last exit to Babylon.  The Road runs from the unimaginable past to the far future, and those who travel it have access to the turnoffs leading to all times and timestreams of histories that never happened.  Why the Dragons of Bel’kwinith made the Road—or who they are—no one knows.  But the Road has always been there, for those who know how to find it, and always will be!”

4. Message from the Eocene / Three Worlds of Futurity, Margaret St. Clair (1964)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1964 edition)

From the inside flap of Message from the Eocene: “LEGACY OF A LOST RACE.  His name was Thrag, but he was not any life form we know today.  He lived so long ago that the plant Earth had not yet shaped itself.  Lava seas roiled and churned, volcanoes spouted and grew, and heavy clouds hung in the hydrogen atmosphere, leaving the planet’ surface dark and dangerous.  On the world Tharg met his death, or something very much like it.  He became disembodied, totally nonphysical intelligence, cut off from all contact with the life he had known.  He “slept” for hundreds of millions of years, unconnected with the world, unthinking, hardly existing.  But then he began to awake—for there was new life on Earth, creatures called “human,” and Thargm knowing an ancient promise from the stars, had to tell them of it.  But…how?”

From the inside flap of Three Worlds of Futurity: “CHILDREN OF THE SUN.  On Venus: An ancient and powerful Venusian race finds its ultimate evolution—but can they accept it?

On Mars: The people of the Fourth Planet are eminently reasonable in all things—except for the cult of the Second Martian Pig, for which “fanatic” would be entirely too reasonable a word.

And on Earth:  On the unknown world of one or ten centuries from now, the strangest stories of all become haunting, fascinating reality, as one of science fiction’s most imaginative writers shows us that human beings are, after all, the most alien of creatures…”

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27 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIII (Zelazny + Sheckley + White + St. Clair)”

  1. Another fine haul you have there Joachim, you’re a lucky man to have such a thoughtful partner. I’m more than a little envious of that fabulous Ace Double, what a cracking pair of covers. All the best.

    1. Have had limited success with her work in the past. The covers might be the best thing about that particular book. And I’m usually no fan of Gaughan’s work. But, I want to give St. Clair’s stuff a second go.

  2. Every cover is a winner here. I’m especially drawn to the John Berkey painting, he was truly a master of the craft. I wouldn’t have guessed right off that the Zelazny book was a Darrel K. Sweet cover. I’m not used to seeing his covers without one of more human/humanoid characters as a major part of the image

    I’ve read some, but not nearly enough, Robert Sheckley.

    1. Sweet’s cover sounds like he simply read the novel blurb — his literalism really frustrates me with that cover 😉

      But yes, I do enjoy the Berkey cover — and it’s a shame because the canvas continues to the back cover and it’s equally as interesting. I could scan in my edition.

      1. Unfortunately the wrap around cover doesn’t happen enough. Michael Whelan did a lot of wrap around covers when he was more regular doing book covers (still does, I guess, just not as often).

  3. You’ll like Roadmarks. It won’t leave much of a trace in your memory, but you’ll like it.

    That was Spider Robinson’s review when it came out and matched my reaction.

  4. I have always liked Darrell K. Sweet’s cover for Roadmarks; it is just about the only cover by Sweet that I do like.

    Sure, Roadmarks “won’t leave much trace in your memory.” I mean, I hardly ever think of it except sometimes when I’m on a long road trip, or when I see a picture of a T-rex, or when I hear the song “Life Is a Highway” (my twin says the song that makes him think of this novel is “Road to Nowhere”), or a small handful of other things.

    (Spider Robinson seemed to have a personal hate for everything Zelazny ever wrote, so it could be a good idea to take his opinion of ANY Zelazny novel with that in mind.)

  5. I really liked Roadmarks and read it several times. There are some subtle pop-culture references in there – particularly a chap encountered on the road, with gold flecks in his eyes – and although it didn’t quite resonate with me on my most recent re-reading the way it did when I first got my hands on it, it sticks with me because I love the idea of that road that, if you can just find it, will take you up and down the stream of time. It’s a glorious idea.

    1. What I like: the psychoanalysis, the world listening in, the claustrophobia of the first third. What I dislike, how ridiculous all the characters act — I mean really, having a camera mounted on a robot going into the spaceship might have been a good idea 😉

      1. There were several parts of the book that seemed …. odd?
        ( Never considered the robot, so now I have another thing to consider! lol)

        For me the oddest thing was including mismatched lab animals – and especially a carnivore.
        Don’t know how far you are, so no spoilers!
        But overall, the astronauts actions – and those of the people back on Earth – seemed to reflect pretty much how humans have always behaved irrespective of technology:
        ”I wonder what will happen if I press this swit …”

        – which is why it still appeals to me.

      2. No extra spacesuits makes no sense… No weapons when they first go on the spaceship or tools or cameras… Really? I think we’d be rather more careful with a first contact. We’d for example try to figure out everything we could with remote controlled camera or something first before, oh look a door, oh look it opens, oh look, we’re in a hallway, oh crap, here come some aliens.

      1. Well, I enjoyed everything besides the fact that All Judgement did not Flee… and thus, makes no narrative sense. And feels like a complete cop-out. A SF author once again unwilling to take a narrative risk, or forced to have a positive ending when all clues indicated something else. So, could have been a masterpiece but fails in the last act…

      2. I have wondered what tack the writer could have taken?
        Disable the craft permanently and have the alien brought back to earth?
        Alien /human encounters when presented as ”realty” – or more real than the usual Star Wars type Sci Fi always seem to end badly, (story wise) or at least unsatisfactorily.
        But with a mentally unbalanced caterpillar alien and half the human crew dead,I could not think of another way for such a story to end.
        But you’re right, All Judgement fled is an odd title, all things considered.
        Maybe White had another and was asked to change it?
        I have not read any of his other work, I must look him up the next time I am out at my local second hand bookstore.

      3. This aspect I think White handled well. The audience in the ‘stalls’, millions of miles away listening to the Gladiatorial Contest – and inevitably picking sides. So very human

      4. I enjoy the novel. Perhaps the title relates more to Earth suddenly not believing in the valiant astronauts — which, reinforces all the “astronauts are the perfect hero” type narratives that I was hoping White was subverting etc.

      1. I would recommend you look at the reviews. If you want a good intro to the genre (I don’t know how much SF you’ve read) lists such as the Hugo winners are always a great place to start. I’ve read a good 40+ or so of the winners… Did that first before delving around in back catalogs.

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