Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXXIV (Brunner + Tucker + Brackett + et al.)

A mixture of a few clearance section novels from Austin bookstores (Chandler and Siodmak) and three recent purchases from a nice used bookstore (for science fiction) in my current town…  I can’t wait to read another Leigh Brackett novel (one of the most renowned pulp sci-fi writers of the 50s) — I’ve only read her novels, The Big Jump (1955) and was pleasantly surprised.

One can never have too many Brunner novels (I have 21 at the moment and I’ve read a majority of them) — even average works from the early 80s….

And Wilson Tucker’s The Year of the Quiet Sun (1970) — yes, I generally dislike time travel, but I’ve yet to read one of his works so I might as well start with what is generally considered his best novel.

(*note: I include images of what I consider the best cover for the novel if it has multiple editions because I enjoy good examples of sci-fi art.  I own perhaps half of the exact editions shown.  A few readers have expressed confusion.)

1. The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett (1955)

(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the 1962 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “No city, no town, no community of more than one thousands people or two hundred buildings to the square mile, shall be built or permitted to exist anywhere in the United States of America — Constitution of the United States, Thirtieth Amendment.

Two generations after the Destruction, rumors persisted about a secret desert hideaway where scientists worked with dangerous machines and wehre men plotted to revive the cities.  Almost a continent away, Len Coulter hearted whisperings that fired his imaginations.  Then one day he found a strange wooden box…”

2. The Year of the Quiet Sun, Wilson Tucker (1970)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the inside flap of a later edition: “It was a top secret government project, its funds coming quietly from the Bureau of Standards, its orders directly from the President.  The project’s goal was to survey the future.  The survey would be made in person, by use of the newly-developed Time Displacement Vehicle.  Three specially trained men would be sent to the year 2000, and they would return with invaluable data about the problems to be faced by the government in decades to come.  It seemed almost routine at first.  But when the survey team reached their target they found a savage land… and awesome world they may have made, and they had to wonder if any would return to tell about it.”

3. Players at the Game of People, John Brunner (1980)

(Bill Schmidt’s cover for the 1980 edition)

My earlier edition (unfortunately, possessing an egregious cover) only has an extremely lengthy blurb from the novel — no summary of the contents.

4. City in the Sky, Curt Siodmak (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “DEATH SATELLITE.  Pierre Bardou is a prisoner in space, an exile to an artificial satellite which functions as a political prison.  This bizarre, forsaken prison has its own cruel and arbitrary rules.  To make room for each incoming inmate another has to be executed.  Bardou’s fellow prisoners are close to insanity when he comes up with a terrifying solution to their misery.  He proposes that they “spacejack” International Space City — a much larger satellite resort for the rich and beautiful, built to serve as a political oasis for all the modern earth nations.  The attempt works, but as frustrations mount and tempers seethe, Bardou’s fellow prisoners threaten holocaust to the ISC if their demands are not met.  Soon ISC engineers, led by Lee Powers, retaliate, attacking the spacejackers with nitrous oxide. Violence erupts in an explosion more hideous than the mushroom from a hydrogen bomb.”

5. The Big Black Mark, A. Bertram Chandler (1975)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “The fabulous career of John Grimes from ensign in the Galactic Federation to admiral of the Rim Worlds has been chronicled over the years in dozens of gripping novels and short stories.  But the pivotal account of Grimes’ career — the big black mark on his service record that forced him to change his loyalties — had never been recorded.  DAW Books is proud to present that major novel of Frimes, the only character in all of space fiction with the scope and depth that Captain Hornblower achieved in the field of sea fiction.  This then, in a full-length novel, is the key story of Commander Grimes and of the voyager of the Discovery — a spaceship which bore an uncanny kinship to a certain legendary vessel called the Bounty.”

6 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXXIV (Brunner + Tucker + Brackett + et al.)

  1. The Long Tomorrow is pretty dang good, it falters a bit in its third act and isn’t in the same vein as her normal fare, but it’s the most literary Brackett. It was one of many worthy novels the Library of America picked for a 1950s SF smorgasbord. (Nicola Griffith’s review is spot-on.)

    The only Wilson Tucker I’ve read is The Long Loud Silence and it was amazing; I’m curious if his other novels are any good.

    A. Bertram Chandler was a pretty decent mainstay churning out pulp fare for Ace, and could pen a really engaging book, but I’m not familiar with that one. It’s got my attention from name-dropping Hornblower. I could see ABC pulling off that ship-o-the-line space opera pretty well.

    • The Long Loud Silence has been on my list for a long long time. I can’t wait to grab a copy. I looked at the Library of America list for the 50s — I’d read all but Brackett’s book (and maybe one other). I had previously read some of her work so it was a given that I’d eventually get to her classic.

      I loved Hornblower when I was a kid — I still have at least most of the series on my shelves somewhere. The name drop was the reason I picked it out of the clearance bin — I’ve never read any of his works before.

  2. I guiltily love cover of The Big Black Mark… but hey, I’m a sucker for starships. I haven’t seen you post any Brunner for a while. I also have Players on my shelves, which sounds something like an extraterrestrial version of Brunner’s The Squares of the City.

  3. I read the later John Grimes stories collected in Alternate Orbits and thought they were pretty borderline, but I still bought a collection of the early stories and it is on my pile. Chandler has a good reputation so I am willing to give him another chance. I look forward to hearing what you think of <Big Black Mark.

    Leigh Brackett’s work is uneven, but I liked some of the Stark stories (“Black Amazon of Mars” for example) and like you I enjoyed The Big Jump.

    I actually have never read any of the Hornblower books, though I have long been interested in 18th century naval warfare and have read biographies of Nelson and played various wargames and all that, and I’ve read 12 or 13 of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin books. Maybe I should give Forester a try.

    • Hornblower is so much better than Patrick O’Brian 😉 Or at least I thought so when I was 14 and reading and rereading every Napoleonic series I could get my hands on — including Alexander Kent’s Captain Bolitho novels.

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