Over the last months I’ve restrained myself from impulsive science fiction purchases considering the massive pile of books I still need to read — however, a stop at Half-Price books while visiting my nostalgic onetime home of Austin, TX was too good to pass up.
And lo and behold, I procured a first edition Philip K. Dick novel with a gorgeous Jerome Podwil cover, an underrated novel by James White, one future pastoral vision by Simak, and a collection of short stories (Malzberg, Herbert, Lafferty, Silverberg, Scortia, Ellison) edited by Elwood about future metropolises — a wonderful edition to my collection considering the plethora of sci-fi city related cover art posts I’ve written as of late (Elevated Cities Part I, Part II, Richard Power’s Surrealistic Cityscapes).
1. The Crack in Space (1966), Philip K. Dick
(Jerome Podwil’s cover for the 1966 edition)
One of the few PKD novels I’ve not yet read — I own close to 25 or so already! I’m extremely excited that I found a first edition in pretty good condition.
From the back cover, “In the Year 2080 every crisis of a couple of centuries had come to maturity. It was an election year, and Him Briskin, candidate for President, was trying to solve the unsolvable and appease the unappeasable. There were tens of millions of people in deep-freeze waiting for better times — and the pressure was on to wale them up or throw them away. The jiffi-scuttlers which bypassed space to speed travel were breaking down and someone had to find out why fast. And the racial problem had reached the point where a colored man now seemed likely to be the next chief executive. Add to that breakthrough into another sort of space and contact with a long-forgotten ancestral race… and you have a complex, taut, and tremendously exciting science-fiction novel as only Philip K. Dick can write.”
2. The Watch Below (1966), James White (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited cover for the 1966 edition)
James White is one of those middling to good authors (known for the Sector General series of stories and novels) I’ve not yet read. This is considered one of his underrated novels.
From the back cover, “Somehow they had to find a way… Doc Redford, the Exec, Wallis, and First Officer Dickson, together with two badly injured and hysterical nurses. They were stuck. In the pitch dark, bleak cold of a hull equipped with oxygen tanks and stored food. And nothing else. Under several fathoms of water. Somehow they had to find a way to stay sane long enough to make a new home. And billions of miles out in space there were aliens — water breathers whose own world was gone forever in gusts of titanic heart. They too had to find a way — a way to survive for generations, long enough to find a new home… Aliens and humans alike had the same problem. This is how they met it.”
3. Future City (1973), ed. Roger Elwood (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)
I’ve almost finished this collection already — some of the stories are high caliber others dismal failures. However, it’s completely worth finding if you’re interested in future Earth cities and all the problems they entail.
From the back cover, “In all its excitement, wonder and terror, the city stands as a symbol of Man’s glory – and of Man’s self-destructiveness. It has survived centuries of pollution, overcrowding and violence. They very concept of civilization is inseparable from it: as the city goes, so goes mankind. In this unique anthology of new short stories, twenty-two leading science-fiction writers put forward their compelling, shocking views of urband live in centuries to come.”
4. A Choice of Gods (1972), Clifford D. Simak
(Michael Hinge’s cover for the 1972 edition)
Clifford Simak has always been one of my favorite authors because of his non-traditional pastoral vision of the future. Future earths depopulated, covered with new forests, inhabited by rural individuals and their robots — A Choice of Gods was nominated for the Hugo for Best novel and is high on my to read list.
From the back cover, “One day mankind disappeared… A few human beings were left on the deserted earth, along with numerous robots. The human beings — including a small tribe of American Indians — made do. The Indians returned to ancient tribal ways; the others stubbornly tried to rebuilt technology. The robots — some stayed with the humans performing their service functions, some went off to create a religiously-based society of their own. Millennia later, a star-traveler returns from the center of the universe. The people of earth had been found and were planning to return. But something else had been found, too — the central intelligence of the universe!”