Updates: Recent Acquisitions N. XXXVII (del Rey + Geston + Saxton + Gunn)

A wonderful selection of Marx Book purchases….  All of them are high on my to read list!  I hadn’t heard of Josephine Saxton — she’s considered an inventive sf fabulist — until I read a review of her novel Vector for Seven (1970) on SF Mistressworks, a review collating blog which I highly recommend for any fan of science fiction.  There are so many great works by female sci-fi authors out there waiting to be rediscovered on dusty used bookstore shelves….

I enjoyed James Gunn’s Station in Space (1958), a thematically linked short story collection depicting mankind’s first steps into space, so I picked up a copy of one of his better known fix-up novels, The Joy Makers (1961).

I adore sci-fi novels on overpopulation so Lester del Rey’s The Eleventh Commandment (1962) was a given…

And, well, the incredibly alluring description on the back cover of Mark S. Geston’s Lords of the Starship (1967) speaks for itself…

1. The Hieros Gamos of Sam And An Smith, Josephine Saxton (1969) (MY REVIEW)

(Jack Fargasso’s cover for the 1969 edition)

From back cover: “A solitary young earthman is drawn into a new world of chaos and danger… destiny and desire.  It was a bleak and lonely countryside over which he, “the boy,” had been wandering for many years.  A rare tree, bird, or wild animal was the only life he encountered during his desolate trek over the nearly barren land.  His greatest and innermost fear was contact with others of his own species.  Then one day a desperate cry, not far from a place he had come to rest, overcame his sense of self-preservation, drawing him forward into a life of potential danger.  Often he thought of turning back, but somehow he knew this was impossible.  He must accept his new fate, overcome his fear of the reatest of all human commitments… before it was too late.”

2. The Joy Makers, James Gunn (1961) (MY REVIEW)

(William Hofmann’s cover for the 1961 edition)

From the back cover: “Why be miserable?  Dial P-L-E-A-S-U-R.  Happiness guaranteed by Hedonics Inc.  Sounds like a skin-game to you and me.  But in James Gunn’s future it’s the slogan of a legitimate and successful business.  Product: anything you need to make you happy.  THE JOY MAKERS rips the lid off: describes pleasures that will make your skin tingle and your mind rattle, tells a story of men and women who are so hysterically HAPPY they turn in  strange new directions for diversion.”

3. The Eleventh Commandment, Lester del Rey (1962) (MY REVIEW)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “It was a remarkable world — for the Church and the State had become one — one supreme Authority that encouraged, indeed, ordered its people to breed, and breed, and breed again.  And punished if they did not… But few fought the Authority.  For the conceptual rites were so inspiring.  And not all sinful.  No, indeed.  The only in was not having children.  Fo that sin, a man — or a woman — could die.”

4. Lords of the Starship, Mark S. Geston (1967) (MY REVIEW)

(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “The ship was to be seven miles long, a third of a mile in diameter and have a wingspread of three and a half mies.  It would take two and a half centuries to construct.  Its announced purpose: to carry humanity away from its ruined world, from the world that had become a perpetual purgatory.  To build this vast ship would require the undivided activity of an entire nation and would mean carrying out a ruthless program of war and conquest, of annihilation and reconstruction, of education and rediscovery.  But was this starship really what it was claimed to be?  Or was there a greater secret behinds its incredible cost — a secret so strange that no man dared reveal it?”

13 Replies to “Updates: Recent Acquisitions N. XXXVII (del Rey + Geston + Saxton + Gunn)”

  1. Every time you do these Acquisitions posts, I see more books I want to buy. Lords of the Starship would be the new candidate on my to-buy list, and Joy Makers and Eleventh Commandment have been on there for a while.

    1. Haha.

      I know, it’s hard to resist Geston’s back cover blurb, “The ship was to be seven miles long, a third of a mile in diameter and have a wingspread of three and a half mies. It would take two and a half centuries to construct. Its announced purpose: to carry humanity away from its ruined world, from the world that had become a perpetual purgatory.”

  2. Geston is very good though he’s all but forgotten now. Back in the early 1990s, I remember David Pringle, who was editor of Interzone at the time, singing his praises. So I bought and read Out of the Mouth of the Dragon, read it and enjoyed it… and have been meaning to pick up copies of the other two books of the trilogy – Lords of the Starship and The Siege of Wonder – ever since. Incidentally, Baen published an omnibus of al t hree in 2009.

    1. The omnisbus Baen published is actually of the first two novels in the trilogy plus a third, unconnected novel (am at the office right now so can’t look up which one) because (according to his preface) Geston thought the original one was too dark or too depressing and he wanted things to ended on a more hopeful. Which is somewhat weird, to say the least.
      I think I still have all three volumes of the trilogy in German translation in which I read and loved it as teenager. I really, really should read those again some time…

      Also, I’m quite curious what you’ll make of the Saxton, I’ve been pondering over whether to buy or not to buy that very novel for a while now, and your take on it would likely tip the balance either way.

    2. I’ve book looking for Geston’s books for months and months at used books stores without success. I have high expectations! I’m glad that some worthwhile older novels are being picked up by Baen — alas, such egregious covers!

  3. “The Hieros Gamos…” was a quick enjoyable read and has me now looking for more by Josephine Saxton. I found the ending very intriguing. In my opinion the innocence of the characters contained within is not accurately portrayed by the cover art. When I first found the book it fell open to the page 66 just after the advertisement for Kent cigarettes where I read the words “PUSSY FOR GOD” which caused me to wonder if I had stumbled upon an example of sci-fi erotica but it wasn’t like that.

    1. Well, if I ever get there I’d go — the best bookstore for sci-fi I’ve EVER been to is The Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor, Michigan (too bad I live 6 hours away)…. But then again, it’s always listed on the best 10 used book stores in America lists…

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