Half-Price Books in Dallas, Texas (its first location!) = bliss.
9 books = only 12 dollars. (curtesy of my girlfriend’s parents’ pre-Christmas gift)
What an amazing haul — and if I had known they were only going to be twelve dollars I would have picked up nine more. Lots of Silverberg from his glory years… Generation ships… City building machines… Weird psychic forcefields out beyond Pluto… Vietnam army camps experimenting with intelligence enhancing (and death inducing) syphilis strains…
1. Camp Concentration, Thomas M. Disch (1972)
(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition)
One of the greats whom I haven’t read. Sadly, no back cover flap summary. The novel’s about a Vietnam era army base where unusual research is conducted with a strain of syphilis to increase intelligence. Told in diary format by an obese individual who dreams of obese historical figures. Dark, disturbing….
2. The Man in the Maze, Robert Silverberg (1969) (MY REVIEW)
(Don Punchatz’s cover for the 1969 edition)
More Silverberg from his glory years!
From the back cover, “At the dawn of man’s galactic journeys, he was Earth’s first ambassador to Beta Hydri IV. But something about his brain emanations so repulsed the Hydrans they altered his mind to radiate an aura that would soothe them — and make him anathema to human beings. Embittered, he fled to a distant planet to live out his days in utter isolation in an abandoned city of terrifying labyrinths. Then, Earth launched an expedition to penetrate his maze-like citadel, and convince him to undertake a vital mission — for precisely that thing which made him an outcast, nor made him a savior.
3. Rite of Passage, Alexei Panshin (1968)
(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition)
Nebula Winner, Hugo Nominee — generations ships, well-rounded female protagonist! Alas, no back cover summary…. More of a juvenile work — so perhaps not my cup of tea.
4. A Plague of Pythons, Frederik Pohl (1965)
(Ralph Brillhart’s (?) cover for the 1965 edition)
From the back cover (different edition), “The world was possessed. Rapists, killers, and mass-murderers were everywhere. Once ordinary people, they were suddenly possessed by some inexplicable force that controlled them, enslaved them, and made them commit the most horrible crimes imaginable. Chandler had already raped and brutally assaulted a helpless creature and the town had put him on trial for his life. No way did they believe his story that he couldn’t have stopped himself, that he was merely a prisoner in his own body, a slave of whatever force was turning the world upside down and making criminals out of common men. Desperate for freedom and hungry for revenge, Chandler knew he would travel to the ends of the Earth to find his tormenters and destroy their power forever.”
5. The City Machine, Louis Trimble (1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1972 edition)
I picked up a copy of this relatively unknown title due to a favorable amazon review by 2theD. Anything to do with allegorical multi-leveled cities is worth reading….
“The machine that could build cities. The entire population of that colonized planet was crowded into one all-enclosed self-functioning city construction. For the majority the situation was like living forever in the steerage of an immigrant freighter. For a few there were some privileges, and for the Highs, power and luxury had been secured by a change of language and the destruction of the old books. Which was where the man Ryne came in. For he was the last who could read the original language — and if they could ever locate the machine that could build new cities he’d be the only one to read the instructions. The story of the City Machine, the linguistics and logistics problems presented, and the fight for Ryne’s very life is a science fiction novel of edge-of-the-seat excitement.”
6. The Pritcher Mass, Gordon R. Dickson (1972)
(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1973 edition)
Probable VERY middling Gordon R. Dickson… but, it was 50 cents…
From the back cover, “The only hope for mankind’s survival after the contamination of the Earth lay in the Pritcher Mass, a psychic forcefield construction out beyond the orbit of Pluto. Created by the efforts of individuals with extraordinary paranormal powers, the mass was designed to search the universe for a new habitable planet. Chaz Sant knew he had the kind of special ability to contribute effectively to the building of the Mass, but somehow the qualifying tests were stacked against him. Then he he learned that he had become the special target of an insidious organization that fattened on the fears of the last cities of the world. His confrontation with this organization, their real motives and his unexpected reactions, were to touch off the final showdown for mankind’s last enterprise.”
7. The Second Trip, Robert Silverberg (serialized: 1971) (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition)
Lesser known Silverberg from his glory years… From the back cover, “Was it a case of mistaken identity of demonic possession? Hamlin, get out of my mind! Whose mind? You heard me! You for forfeited the right to his body when you became the mad rapist for suburbia four years ago. ou were condemned to Rehabilitation. You’re dead, Hamil — deconstructed — why can’t you stay that way? I’m more alive than you are, Macy. You’re just the imaginary creation of some second-rate doctor’s mind. You have no reality, but I have. I’m the world’s greatest psycho-sculptor, and you’re nothing. I’m the one with the right to this body. SO get out! Never! This life is mine. We’ll see about that!… And then there was pain…”
8. Three For Tomorrow, three novellas: Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, James Blish (1969) (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition)
(see above for back cover blurb)
9. Slave Ship, Frederick Pohl (1957)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1957 edition)
50s Pohl… Silliest premise ever!
From the back cover (later edition), “Lieutenant Logan Miller didn’t ask questions when the Navy pulled him off combat duty and assigned him to an ultra-secret research project. After all, the Navy knew best. But when he was dropped in the middle of a farm in Florida — a farm stocked with the strangest assortment of animals — Logan began to wonder. Then Logan got his orders. Invade the enemy’s stronghold with a landing part of three dogs, two apes and a seal! Little did Logan know, they were were after the wrong enemy!”