Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXVIII (Ace Doubles: Brunner, Dick, Delany, et al.)

I’m the proud new owner of four ace doubles in remarkable condition!  And considering the general quality of many of the Ace doubles, I consider it quite the haul.  The contents: two early pulp works (of rather dubious quality) by John Brunner (one under his pseudonym Keith Woodcott), one early Philip K. Dick novel, two early Samuel Delany novels, and an assortment of works by lesser known authors (Tom Purdom, Jack Sharkey, and Bruce W. Ronald).  I will devour the Philip K. Dick and John Brunner works — yes, Brunner’s early works are terrible but I’m a Brunner completest which requires a high pain threshold for his pre-Stand On Zanzibar (1968) works.

1. Captives of the Flame/The Psionic Menace (1963), Samuel R. Delany, John Brunner (as Keith Woodcott)

(Cover by Jack Gaughan, Ed Emshwiller)

Blurb from inside flap of Captives of the Flame: “THREE AGAINST INFINITY. The Empire of Toromon had finally declared war.  The attacks on its planes had been nothing compared to the final insult – the kidnapping of the Crown Prince.  The enemy must be dealt with, and when they were, Toromon would be able to get back on its economic feet.  But how would the members of this civilization – one of the very few who had survived the great fire – get beyond the deadly radiation barrier, behind which the enemy lay?  And assuming they got beyond the barrier, how would they deal with that enemy – the Lord of the Flames – whose very presence was unknown to the people among whom he lived.”

Blurb from inside flap of The Psionic Menace:  “MUST THE UNIVERSE DIE WITH THEM? The Starfolk, arrogant masters of vast stretches of the cosmos beyond the Earth’s sphere of influence, were determined to complete the extermination of the mind-reading mutants on Regnier’s planet.  But to the mutants themselves, the terror of the Starfolf was nothing compared to the greater dread that gripped their spirits – the obsession that the universe itself was doomed.  This obsession ripped into their minds, overwhelmed them, and plunged them into horrifying hysteria.  The message of doom reached the ears of the Starfolk themselves, forcing them to a fateful decision.  They would allow an Earthman, archeologist Philip Gascon, to visit Regnier in an attempt to unravel its secrets.  What he found would either contain the key to the ultimate destiny of the universe – or the date of doomsday.”

2. Our Man in Space/Ultimatum in 2050 A. D. (1965), Bruce W. Ronald, Jack Sharkey, 1965

(Cover by John Schoenherr, Ed Valigursky)

Blurb from inside flap of Our Man in Space: “THIS FUTURE JAMES BOND WAS AN INTERSTELLAR MISSILE.  Bill Brown was a second-rate actor who happened to look enough like a dead spy from the planet Troll to qualify as one-fourth of Earth’s Interplanetary Secret Service.  His assignment was simply to impersonate Harry Gordon, the dead agent, plant false information as to the length of time it would take Earth to die of population suffocation, and return to Earth 10,000 credits richer.  It was only when Brown-Gordon got to Troll that he realized things were somewhat more complex.  It turned out that Brown had been sold out by his government; that Earth didn’t give a hott about the life of its new amateur spy… and there was a little bom inside Bill Brown’s head that Earth was 80% sure would go off!”

Blurb from inside flap of Ultimatum in 2050 A. D.: “PACKAGED PEOPLE IN A WORLD GONE BESERK.  It was the year 2050 A.D. and the Hive, with its ten million inhabitants, was going along as smoothly as ever.  Except that, on a whim, Kinsman Lloyd Bodger, Jr. had helped a fugitive girl escape hospitalization, and she had told him her secret.  “There are no hospitals!  There is only death!  Of course it couldn’t be true.  Lloyd Bodger’s own father was second in command of the Hive, the first true democracy.  “By Why,” she had said, “doesn’t anyone ever return from hospitalization?  Why is the population always a constant ten million?”  Well, young Bodger reasoned grimly, he would soon know the truth.  For hiding the fugitive girl, he himself would either be hospitalized, or fed into the incinerator chutes!”

3. Slavers of Space/Dr. Futurity (1960), John Brunner, Philip K. Dick


(Cover by Ed Emshwiller,  Ed Valigursky)

Blurb from inside flap of Slavers of Space: “CONSPIRACY IN STAR FLESH. There were robots and there were androids.  A man of quality and wealth like Derry Horn could have either for purchasing.  The robots were fine, if you liked a machine that could talk and do your bidding exactly.  But in some ways androids were even better.  Those blue-skinned creations, boiled out of some far planet’s chemical vats, were very realistic.  They did what they were told, conversed intelligently, and might almsot be mistaken for people.  But not quite.  For when Derry Horn finally made that mistake one frightful carnival night, it was to involve him in a one-way galactic transit to a rendezvous with utter horror.”

Blurb from inside flap of Dr. Futurity: “A STITCH IN TIME SAVES…? He had a moment of shattering, blinding terror… Where was he? Why was he here? Had somebody brought him here, dumped him off at this spot for a reason?  Suddenly Dr. Jim Parsons realized that he had not been dumped on a new world – but into a new time.  In seconds he had traversed centuries… but why?  How could he escape the time he was in?  How could he avoid the terrible role that the Wolves of the future had chosen him to execute?  There was no way out, for even death was humbled before the inexorable web of destiny.”

4. The Tree Lord of Imetem/Empire Star (1966), Tom Purdom, Samuel R. Delany

(Cover by Jack Gaughan, John Schoenherr) 

Blurb from inside flap Empire Star: “ON THE INFINITY ROUTE.  Comet Jo had a body that was brown and slim and looked like a cat’s, and on his left hand were sharp brass claws with which he had already killed three wild keppards and a boy his own age.  He also had a propensity for wandering, and this was to lead him on an adventure spanning uncounted light-years of space and incalculable spans of time, to free a race of beings upon whom the civilization of the stars depended. Along the way he would meet: the strange multiplex consciousness called Jewel; the beautiful, soul-burdened space traveler San Severina; a creature known as the Lump, who was half-alien, half-machine; Ni Ty Lee, the suicidal poet of the stars, who lived everyone’s life but his own; a young princess of the Galactic Empire, fresh from Miss Perrypicker’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies… And finally he would meet-himself.  A thousand times, perhaps more.”

Blurb from inside flap The Tree Lord of Imeten: “Delta Pavonis II… far from the sphere of Earth-colonized worlds where a tiny human colony kept a miserable toehold alone on a high plateau of that unexplored planet.  Delta Pavonis II… where two people, Harold and Joanne, were driven from the colony, unarmed, into the terrors of the unknown jungle.  Delta Pavonis II… where two intelligent races fought a bitter no-holds-barred battle in which the human intruders proved to be the decisive factor that would through the world to one species or the other!”

10 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXVIII (Ace Doubles: Brunner, Dick, Delany, et al.)

  1. Great looking books. The Ace Doubles are a lot of fun. I don’t have too many, but the few I do have are in fairly good condition. I found several at a used bookstore the other day but they were just trashed. Still, had they had anything that caught my eye I would have snatched them up.

    • Ace Doubles were very poorly made. Mine are in good/very good condition — but yes, sometimes the spines fall apart on me or the covers fall off with barely a bump. I’ll acquire the entire Ace double publication series eventually — over the next 20 years probably, haha.

    • Not the PKD? Yes, it’s very early in his career but still good. I have two more new PKD acquisitions I haven’t posted yet — The Penultimate Truth and Dr. Bloodmoney.

      Ultimatum in 2050 A. D. is actually supposed to be pretty good — the Brunner, yeah, I already know, is complete crud.

      • I meant buying for the covers… buying every PKD novel out there should be a given.

        Penultimate Truth is another of his short-to-novel fixups, from one of the stories I’m pretty sure is in most PKD collections: “The Defenders.” I liked Bloodmoney but be forewarned, the length and sheer number of characters makes it more like a series of connected novelettes than a novel. They’re both pretty good, and Dick thought they were two of his best.

      • I love the Ultimatum in 2050 A. D. cover!

        Dr. Bloodmoney does appear to be one of his longer works….

        I’ve loved just about all of PKD’s works I’ve read — The World Jones Made was very very average — and Our Friends from Frolix 8 was underwhelming.

  2. I have the edition of Empire Star with the Barlowe cover (Bantam ’83) but I haven’t worked up the energy to read it yet. I know all the sophistos love Delany but I found Ballad of Beta 2 and Nova to be pretty underwhelming, and I have like 25 other paperbacks from the used bookstores competing for attention.

    • Hehe, I do like Delany — he’s not my favorite writer but some of his early works are quite readable (Nova, Babel-17, etc). I haven’t read Ballad of Beta 2 yet but considering it’s about a generation ship it’s high on my list of too acquire volumes. Works as late as Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia (1976) become a little too over the top for me. He can be a beautiful writer.

      (I have close to 80 — it’s pretty terrible)

  3. I have a private collection of over 50 Ace Doubles from the early 50`s to the early 60`s.These were collected by my late father during those years and he bought all of them when they were first issued and kept them in pristine condition!Many were never read and the covers and spine of the books look brand new with bright colors in the cover art.This is truly a collection for only a TRUE collector and I would possibly sell the books to the right person for the right price.A list of the titles and numbers of each book can be provided if requested as well.Only serious offers considered and the condition of all books is remarkable.

    • Unfortunately, I’m a poor graduate student at the moment and probably won’t be able to afford such a collection (the doubles I procured were at bargain prices and in good to poor condition). However, I’ll leave your message up in case any of my readers might have the means (which I don’t have) and desire (which I have) to acquire these beautiful and fun books.

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