There is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with a pile of vintage SF acquisitions!
You might notice the predominance over the coming weeks of UK publishers (Pan, Granada, Panther)—the images correspond to my editions. I acquired nine via a “secret” UK pipeline for a mere $3.50 each (with shipping) as a gift from my wife. Cue bad Chris Foss copycat (Tony Roberts and his ilk) covers. The disconnect between Thomas M. Disch’s 334 (1972) and the Tony Roberts spaceship pains me.
The books: A lesser known Ian Watson novel. Anyone know the cover artist? His short fiction inspires: A Very Slow Time Machine (1979). I found Jonah Kit (1975) worthwhile although I never reviewed it.
A Jack Vance novel that explores the nature of language…
A collection of early PKD stories. I’ve read the majority of his short fiction in my omnibus collections of his work but it might be worth the reread.
And finally, what I am most excited about, Disch’s best known collection of thematically linked short fiction….
Enjoy! As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.
1. Alien Embassy, Ian Watson (1977)
(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition)
From the back cover: “A WORLD AT PEACE WITH ITSELF, AND WITH ITS NEIGHBOURS— The 22nd century world of Lila Makindi, a young African girl, is a world of simplicity and peace, where the greatest honour any citizen can hope for is to be chosen by Bardo (the Space Communications Administration) as a candidate for Starflight.
Lila is chosen. She begins to practise the tantric yoga exercises that will take her to the stars where she will communicate and exchange knowledge with their alien inhabitants.
But Lila soon discovers that galactic intercourse is not the sole purpose of Starflight. Bardo’s purpose is much more urgent, for the galaxy is threatened by an immense malignant energy force—the Starbeast. And the efforts of the starflyers is the only way of containing the Starbeast. At least, that’s Bardo’s story….”
2. The Preserving Machine and other stories, Philip K. Dick (1969)
(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition)
No back cover description or interior blurb for the 1972 Pan edition (shown above). Here are the contents: “The Preserving Machine,” “War Game,” “Upon the Dull Earth,” “Roog,” “War Veteran,” “Top Stand-by Job,” “Beyond Lies the Wub,” “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” “Captive Market,” “If there were no Benny Cemoli,” “Retreat Syndrome,” “The Crawlers,” “Oh, to be a Blobel!” and “Pay for the Printer.”
3. 334, Thomas M. Disch (1972)
(Tony Roberts’ horrid cover for the 1974 edition)
From the back cover: “New York in 2021 AD—an overpopulated world where women marry each other, where men may become ‘mothers’, and where only couples with high IQs can have children. A terrifying world of disintegrating human relationships, dominated by an insidious ‘welfare state’.”
4. The Languages of Pao, Jack Vance (1957 magazine publication)
(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1966 edition)
From the inside flap: “DIVIDE AND CONQUER—GALACTIC SCALE. On the remote, bleak planet of Breakness, far from his own people, Baran, heir to the Panarch’s throne on Pao, was brainwashed. Palafox, omnipotent Dominie of Breakness Institute, was the half-mad egoist responsible for the kidnapping and implantation Breakness’s totally alien thought-patterns into the mind of Beran. Palafox planned far ahead. Beran’s future was to be shaped to serve the Dominie’s ends: total universal conquest. But Beran, with the vestiges of Paonese, had his own ideas.”