Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)

Ah, what a delightful group! A few from my father, a few from Marx books which I hadn’t posted yet….  Priest and Crowley’s novels involve fascinating worldscapes — a world winched across the horizon, a world at the top of a pillar…  Both are considered among the better stylists in science fiction and fantasy.

And, my 22nd (?) Brunner novel!  The Stone That Never Came Down (1973) — from his glory period of the late 60s-early 70s (this period produced Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, Shockwave Rider, The Jagged Orbit).

And two more impulsive finds — Ian Wallace’s Croyd (1967) — a reader claimed it was one of the best sci-fi novels of the 60s, and thus due to my intense curiosity, I had to find a copy.  And Dark Dominion (1954), I know little about David Duncan — he wrote only three sci-fi novels in the 50s.  His work is described by SF encyclopedia as “quietly eloquent, inherently memorable, worth remarking upon.”

And the covers!

1. The Inverted World, Christopher Priest (1974)

(Jack Fargasso’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “Welcome to the City Earth.  It is like earth, yet strangely different.  Its inhabitants seem human, yet they are part of an inhuman system of repression and discipline.  Its civilization is of the future, yet in many ways it is a throwback to the barbaric past.  Its official goal is progress toward perfection, but its reality is an ever-quickening slide toward disintegration and destruction.  Welcome to City Earth — where nothing is what it seems… and where a young Future Guildsman named Helward Mann must discover the shattering truth about the city and himself, and choose between the system that has shaped him and the desperate bid for freedom that alone can save him…”

2. The Deep, John Crowley (1975) (MY REVIEW)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

No blurb on back cover or inside flap: the novel takes place in a strange pseudo-medieval world perched on a pillar…

3. Croyd, Ian Wallace (1967) (MY REVIEW)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)

From the back cover: “An alien race from another planet is bent on destroying not only the Earth but its entire galaxy.  Croyd, a superhuman secret agent of the future, who has the ability to move himself and events uptime or downtime, is assigned to precent this destruction.  But Croyd’s body becomes inhabited by the mind of a “gnurl” princess, Lura, an alien agent who has infiltrated Earth, while his own mind is transplanted into the body of a surprised female Earthling!  Trapped in this inferior body, Croyd must work fast to recover his own.  At the same time, he must destroy Lurla, before she has time to complete her deadly mission…”

4. Dark Dominion, David Duncan (1954) (MY REVIEW)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)

From the back cover: “This novel takes you into the world of that very near future where science is already at work.  It is the story of a tremendous race for supremacy above the earth, and of men and women who have devoted their lives to the assault on the last great frontier — the conquest of space!”

5. The Stone That Never Came Down, John Brunner (magazine publication 1973)

(Roger Zimmerman’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the inside flap: “Like Orwell’s 198 or A Clockwork Orange, this provocative thriller of tomorrow is rooted firmly in reality: the fascism of the recent past, the social turmoil of today.  John Brunner, the master of science fiction, catapults us into the not-so-distant future.  Europe trembles on the brink of holocaust; unemployment, inflation, and poverty are rampant; cities crumble form neglect; incompetent governments topple to military coups; bands of “godheads” bearing crosses are all too willing to use clubs commit actos of vandalism, violence, even murder.  The only hope of civilization lies in a mysterious new drug, VC, with unparalleled power to heighten sensory awareness and create total consciousness of what mankind has done for good or ill.  But suddenly its creator, a famed scientist, is found dead.  His colleagues begin acting strangely, and a handful of other people too… and they, a pitiful few, find themselves compelled to dictate the destiny to mankind.  Among them: a former TV cowboy star turned evangelist; a black radical; a successful thief; a reluctant soldier; and a teacher charged with corruption youth.  The planet trembles on the brink of World War III, and it is up to them to tip the balance in favor of survival…”

14 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)

  1. Hi

    I have been following your blog for some time with great interest. Your taste in SF from the 40’s -70’s meshes well with my interests and I have picked up books by Bayley and Compton based on your comments. I wanted to say that I think you picked up two really original and interesting books in The Deep and The Inverted World I read them years ago and quite enjoyed them, The Duncan is on my buy list as well I love the Powers cover.

    All the best.

  2. Hi

    I have not read any of the Bayley yet I started with Compton’s The Silent Multitude it was a good choice I am a big fan of the British Cozy Catastrophe, Ballard. Wyndham, and an author called William Dexter among others so I enjoyed the concrete eating fungus. I liked cat and the Dean but the other characters left me a bit cold and one of my favorite parts was when Simeon was killed with the rock? I really hated him. However I thought it was quite well written and have moved on the Steel Crocodile.


    • Which Bayley novel did you buy? Hopefully his best, and the one I rated the highest, The Fall of Chronopolis — the others are rather lowly.

      Both The Silent Multitude and The Steel Crocodile are low on my list of his novels. I greatly prefer The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (alt title: The Unsleeping Eye) and the recent one I reviewed, Farewell, Earth’s Bliss. I had similar problems with The Silent Multitude — well written, emotionally hollow, with some really annoying characters.

      I love Ballard but can never convince myself to review The Drowned World — one of my favorite 60s sci-fi novels. It’s sitting in a lonely pile waiting to be reviewed…..

      I haven’t read Wyndham or Dexter yet.

      • Hi Joachim

        For Compton I have A Usual Lunacy and Synthajoy for Bayley
        The Pillars of Eternity, and The Zen Gun but I may wait until I track down the Fall and start there. My to read pile is shelves long.


      • Synthajoy is wonderful….. One of my favorites of his. But you should find The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe — it’s by far his best.

        Yeah, haha, I have 200 in my too read pile — and that’s only sci-fi works…

  3. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of ‘Inverted World’ , it can be read with a number of different interpretations.

    And it’s too bad that ‘The Deep’ has such a bad typeface for the title, doesn’t fit with the Powers cover art.

  4. The Deep was Crowley’s first novel, a very weird little book but also very fascinating. He wrote (if I remember correctly) two more Science Fiction novels, followed it up with one of the best Fantasy novels ever (Little, Big), and then left genre behind to become one of the greatest novelists writing in the US (or anywhere, really) today. Everything of his you can get your hands on is well worth reading.

    • I want to read his 70s works — I probably won’t get to his 80s fantasy novels. Engine Summer (1979) and Beasts (1976)…. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to get much exposure or is considered, at least in non-Harold Bloom English department academic circles, to be one of the greatest novelists living at the moment…

      • I love everything he has written, but my favourites are his later, non-genre works, although I suppose a case could be made for Little, Big being his best work – it certainly is not like any other Fantasy novel, but something truly original and unique. – And you are unfortunately right, he is not nearly as well-known as he’d deserve to be on strength of the quality of his novels – which is all the more perplexing as his novels are not academic at all, but immensely readable and very moving.

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