A return to old familial haunts yields a heart warming stash of gems and a few radiating a more dubious aura…
And more Richard Powers’ covers for my growing collection….
Most importantly, I picked up my fourteenth or fifteenth Philip K. Dick novel! I will acquire ALL of them eventually.
And another Ace double — little did I know (but I should have guessed considering the egregious art and interior images) that is was sci-fi of the more comic variety. But, I wanted at least one of Lafferty’s novels after reading a few of his impressive short stories.
1. Star Surgeon, James White (1963)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)
From back cover, “In his first book, Hospital Station, James White established himself as a writer of science fiction of the highest order: Star Surgeon carried the story of the inmates of the “Sector General” further. here are all the strange and not so strange creatures who inhabit james White’s hospital in space as both doctors and patients: the human doctor Conway, plus two-ton doctors with for-ton patients, creatures which are multi-legged and telepathic, gas breathers, underwater behemoths — a wild and woolly assortment of denizens from all parts of the galaxy. “Sector General” is a mercy station — a place where all kinds from all worlds are welcome. But for the first time, the hospital itself is threatened by creatures too different to understand its purpose and so powerful that they can cause utter havoc!”
2. The Deathworld Trilogy, Harry Harrison (1960, 1964, 1968)
(Uncredited — for good reason — cover for the 1984 edition)
Unfortunately I acquired the omnibus edition instead of the individual editions with often vastly superior covers. This cover is painfully inept.
From the back cover, “THE DEADLIEST PLANET IN THE UNIVERSE. Five minutes in a meadow on Pyrrus is like a century of global war on other worlds, for Pyrrus was a Killer World — a planet where all life, planet and animal, has evolved into lethal terrors; where all humanity lives barricaded in one fortress city. Jason dinAlt is a gambler, about to start the most dangerous game of his life. Where but Pyrrus would he go?”
3. The Penultimate Truth, Philip K. Dick (1964) (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition)
From the back cover of a later edition, “THE MASTER RACE. Almost all mankind lives underground now, in the antiseptic tanks constructed during World War III. They do not know that the war ended ten years ago. Special interests want this situations to persist. They are the Yance-men, the elite of humanity who govern through the President. Talbot Yancy, a product of their fertile imaginations. Joseph Adams is a Yance man, living on the surface of the earth, dispensing his lies to men and robots, until the day his best friend is mysteriously murdered in the most bizarre manner possible. He wonders it it is too late to act now. The machines think so — and what else matters?”
4. The Florians, Brian M. Stableford (1976) (MY REVIEW)
(Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1976 edition)
From the back cover, “THE DAEDALUS MISSION. Once a colony ship has left Earth, it cannot be recalled and it cannot be contacted. The fate of these vessels and their cargos — designed to be the seeds of new human worlds — remained a tantalizing mystery to those who stayed home. The mission of the scientific recontact ship “Daedalus” was to go out there and find out what happened. And, if necessary, help out the colonists should their developing worlds have taken warped paths. The Florians is the story of the first flight of the “Daedalus” and its crew of seven. It launches a new series by the author of the novels of Star-pilot Grainger, space adventures with a difference that have achieved high praise. On the world of the Florians, they did indeed find a planet in trouble — except that the inhabitants refused to admit it.”
5. Ossian’s Ride, Fred Hoyle (1959) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1961 edition)
From the back cover, “1970: WHAT EARTHLY SCIENCE, could account for the fantastic buildings, the moving mountains, that Ireland was hiding behind its Erin Curtain? British Intelligence wanted a young mathematician, Thomas Sherwood, to find out. For a lark, Sherwood agreed — but once inside Ireland, he found himself enmeshed in a dark web of greed and cruelty…”
7. Pity About Earth, Ernest Hill (1968)
(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1968 edition)
No summary on inside flaps.
8. Space Chantey, R. A. Lafferty (1968)
(Vaughn Bodé’s hideous cover for the 1968 edition)
No summary on inside flaps.
24 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. XXIX (Dick + White + Harrison + et al.)”
I read Space Chantey when it came out. Me and my high school SF reading buddies thought it hilarious. It’s one of those books I’ve always meant to reread to see if it was really good or not. I’ve discovered that books I thought great in teen years aren’t always really great.
I was intrigued by one of Lafferty’s short stories — I wish I remembered the title…. I’m not sure I’d enjoy his works in novel length. But, we’ll see. It’s not high on my too read list but I’ll get there eventually.
I tend NOT to reread books… I have enough to read that I rather remember fond memories then potentially question why I loved something so much when I was younger… haha
Great books deserved to be read many times. But I can understand your focus on new books. There’s always too much to read.
Since I have a website devoted to the classics of science fiction I figure it’s my duty to reread and re-evaluate old SF books.
Plus, I can’t in good faith recommend a book based on my youthful impressions. I think there’s a lot of SF books considered classics because people loved reading them at 15, but if they reread them at 40, 50 or 60 those same people might go, “Whoops, boy was I wrong about that.”
There’s probably a reason why Space Chantey is out of print.
I agree, to a point — there are so many classics that they might be read as well 😉
Yup yup, I’ve visited your website a while back…. The collated tables from best sci-fi work lists are helpful — although, I’ve read a majority of them already.
Space Chanty was great, but then everything by Lafferty was great. It is probably the only novel length poem in Science Fiction. If you enjoy Space Chanty, pick up “The Reefs of Earth” which has a strong poetic element also.
Thanks! As I mentioned before, I do love his short stories and I’m very curious how that translates to novel form.
Strangely, Space Chanty was never republished….
I have that same copy of Star Surgeon. I liked Hospital Station and want to eventually get all of these and work my way through them.
You are correct, that Deathworld Trilogy cover is awful. I thankfully have the individual versions, all with really nice covers. Good books too, I’ve enjoyed reading all three.
At the book store I assumed that Star Surgeon was the first in the series — I didn’t read the back flap apparently. Hmm, is it completely necessary to read Hospital Station first? I think I’ll find a copy of Star Surgeon anyway…
My understanding of the series is that they are all made up of short stories that take place at the hospital. There are some repeating characters but I don’t think it is necessary to read them in order.
Regardless, I’ll put it aside for now — perhaps I’ll find the first in my next circuit of the nearby used book stores.
The cover for “Space Chantey” is utterly dreadful! Some great books in there though.
I agree! I despise that artist’s work….
Thanks for the comment 🙂
Space Chanty was the first Lafferty book I bought and ironically I bought it for the artwork. Bode was a very popular underground comic book artist and was later to become a major influence on New York graffiti artists. As a comic book artist, I guess his work doesn’t look as polished as a graphic designer’s would, but I like it. (I also like that he provided mini-illustrations for each chapter. I wish more books nowadays had interior illustrations.)
Hmm, not sure that many science fiction novels use graphic designers in the periods I’m interested in…. perhaps now they do… The artists were painters predominately including surrealist (Powers), collage artists (Robert Foster), pulp painters (Emshwiller and the like) etc. But yes, I won’t argue on that account — I, personally, don’t enjoy comic book art. And, I’m having trouble appreciating the form.
Thanks so much for stopping by! As always, I enjoy comments.
Harry Harrison’s Death World Trilogy is not Harrison’s best, but still very readable. I will read anything by Harry Harrison, even his bad stuff is better than the average sf book.
On the other hand, I have never read a novel by Fred Hoyle that I liked. He may have been a good scientist, but he was not a good novelist. I recently read novelization of his play “Rockets in Ursa Major” which was just dreadful.
What is his best? Make Room! Make Room!? I’ve read a few of his works and they’ve been relatively average.
Deathworld is a great book by Harrison. I agree with you assessment of the cover shown. Not so great, and an attempt to sell the book as something it’s not. Though…that wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.
Not only that, the man looks ridiculous — the proportions look wrong…. The art is plain bad.
I would think Deathworld is one of the better ones. The first three Stainless Steel Rat books are my favorite Harrison works but I wouldn’t argue that they are his best from a skill perspective. Darn great fun series though.
I read Space Chantey in German translation waaaay back, and thought it was plain awful, the attempts at humour rather making my teeth hurt. I really, really love Lafferty’s short fiction, though – “How We Frustrated Charlemagne” is in my opinion the best time travel story ever and he wrote so many great stories, it’s a pity all of his collections seem to be out of print.
I’m new to your blog, so you probably already know about it, but there’s a book about Richard Powers with an extensive list of his cover art. ‘The Art of Richard Powers’ by Jane Frank.
Thanks for visiting! Yes, I’ve heard of this book — someone mentioned it on one of my multiple posts on Powers’ art. I haven’t read the work yet but I definitely will try to find a copy soon. Thanks again for the comment!
I had to track down my copy through a rare book dealer!
The publisher is Paper Tiger. They also have books on Chesley Bonestell and Chris Moore. One thing I found out was that Powers did an album cover for surf guitar band ‘Man or Astro Man?’. I of course, had to get it! The album art is credited as by
“THE Richard Powers”
A rare book dealer? There are 18 copies available on Amazon. I suspect there are an equal number on abebooks. I prefer the art of Powers over those other two — at least when it comes to cover art 😉