Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIII (Wolfe + Lichtenberg + Brown + Davidson)

One of the least known works on David Pringle’s The 100 Best Novels between 1949-1984 list and soon to be published as a Gollancz Masterwork…  For reference here’s a link to the list. Hopefully the Gollancz publication will bring the price down! (paperbacks go for ~30$ online).

A collection from a prolific 50s/60s primarily short-fiction SF author who died too young (at 41 due to lymphoma)….

Another Avram Davidson novel…

And a suspicious work by Jacqueline Lichtenberg described as for “admirers of the Early Heinlein”—of which I am obviously not.  But, then again, the way presses marketed new women authors took on strange guises in the period.  It might not feel like Heinlein in the slightest!

Two gorgeous covers by Richard Powers!

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. A Handful of Time, Rosel George Brown (1963)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “ROSEL GEORGE BROWN has long delighted science fans with her deft, witty handling of human cussedness.  Her writing has that particular and enchanting quality that invests everyday problems with the aura of her own wry humor—the result is that it in recognizing foibles common to us all, she makes the reader’s own world suddenly take on a glow.  Beyond this, Miss Brown is gifted with wild flights of fancy, a tender and poignant regard for humans—and a respect for neatly fashioned words.”

2. Limbo, Bernard Wolfe (1952)

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(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “What makes this one of today’s most shocking novels?  Is it the tantalizing picture of today’s ‘miracles of progress’ carried to their logical, post-miracle extremes?  Is it the topsy-turvy concept of sex, in which male and female seem almost (but not quite) to have exchanged roles?  Is if the possibility (man has puzzled over it for thousands of years) of making over people’s minds with the surgeon’s scalpel?  Is it the fact that such a novel, diabolically conceived, brilliantly written, bitterly skeptical, bright with double-keen satire, can draw the reader along so swiftly in its foaming wake?

3. The Enemy of My Enemy, Avram Davidson (1966)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)

From the back cover: “The Seven Signs of Tarnis Were:

Green eyes

Long fingers, with tips

Smooth and hairless bodies

Full mouths

Slender feet

Melodious voices

Jerrod Northi—rogue, pirate and a citizen of Pemath—was desperate enough to want to go through the transformation.  It cost 100,000 units for the Craftsmen to endow him with the Seven Signs—a rather steep price even for him.  But he would pay it somehow, for since the attack of the deadly leeris, he feared that the cost of missing this opportunity to find a refuge in the land of Tarnis would be even higher.”

4. House of Zeor, Jacqueline Lichtenberg (1974)

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(Alan Magee’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “Earth is divided between Sime and Gen, both offspring of the ancient race of men—and mortal enemies.  The Sime cannot control their thirst for the kill’ terrified Gen cannot escape the sinuous tentacles whose grip means death… Hugh Valleroy, crossing into Sime territory in a desperate search for the woman he loves, comes on a brave new experiment—one that could mean the survival of the world.”

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13 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIII (Wolfe + Lichtenberg + Brown + Davidson)”

  1. I know almost nothing about Rosel George Brown except for the execrable novel Earthblood she co-wrote with Keith Laumer. I would sincerely hope this one’s considerably better.

    1. I get the impression that her short stories are quite admirable. For example, Galactic Journey’s handful of reviews on her stories are mostly positive: http://galacticjourney.org/may-5-1960-the-next-step-rosel-george-brown-in-amazing/

      Although I find his comment “Others, like Car Pool and Flower Arrangement are overly domestic in feel” rather ridiculous and dismissive (there could legitimately be faults but… why can’t 50s/60s SF also be concerned with extrapolations from everyday life of 50s/60s women? Reviewers tend to not dismiss male authors for being preoccupied with the everyday 50s experiences of men i.e. *cough* —> the satires of Kornbluth etc).

      The same critiques are leveled at Merril….

    1. In my view, lists have one primary function — to introduce readers to books. Pringle’s list has an interesting range of authors and thus gives the active reader a way into the genre, other than that, I have little opinion. I think lists of 10-20 novels can are pretty silly, my 1960s list included. Also, they ignore short stories — but making short story lists is incredibly hard to do due to the sheer number of stories! But, at least 100 books allows you to included most of the accepted classics + some lesser known works. But, I find them more a tool that a younger me new to the genre would enjoy rather than a metric. I have read enough to have my own views…. And hopefully people who read my site are able to ascertain what they are 🙂

      Limbo is outrageously expensive. Mike at SF Potpourri found it for me — it’s hard to find one under 30$ in the US.

      1. Yeah, I hear you and I know what you mean about lists in general. What I quite liked about Pringle’s list is that he didn’t always choose the most famous work of the authors. Also, some of his choices, especially the earlier works, were unknown to me. Novels such as ‘Limbo’, ‘The Paradox Men’, ‘Bring the Jubilee’, ‘A Mirror for Observers’, ‘The Death of Grass’, and more. I know you are a big champion of sci-fi from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Pringle, as well as you, have made me curious to read more works from those periods. If I didn’t have to work for a living, …..

      2. Exactly, it serves to introduce people to the genre with a wide range of authors. But, as some sort of metric of merit I am more suspicious of lists 😉

  2. I bought the newly released America Reads reprint issue of Limbo for $13 back in 2011. It’s a nice edition, too bad it went out of print again.

    I’m looking forward to your review!

      1. It was quite readable but ‘interesting’ rather than ‘enjoyable’. Opening section is the part I remember best, as the reader discovers the protagonist’s situation.

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