One from my father, one from 2theD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature, and a few from a recent used bookstore trip to Indianapolis…
My father promises that Keith Laumer’s collection of Retief stories, Galactic Diplomat (1965), is worth the read — I’m rather more suspicious. Fritz Leiber’s A Pail of Air (1964) will be my first exposure to his short works… Unfortunately, Suzette Haden Elgin’s At the Seventh Level (1972) somewhat too polemical for my taste — any comments about her work would be appreciated.
Two more Powers covers for my collection….
1. Galactic Diplomat, Keith Laumer (1965)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)
From the back cover: “Retief is an officer of the distinguished Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, a supra-national organization devoted to keeping peace — or more accurately, to maintaining a state of tension short of armed conflict. Retief is not exactly in the maintream of current Galactic diplomacy, as expounded by such giants of the C. D. T. as Crodfoller, Hidebinder, Straphangar, and his immediate superior, Magnan. Deviously sincere, uncompromisingly venal, fearlessly cowardly, these great, dedicated public servants will seem curiously familiar as they strive to keep the peace seven hundred years in the future. But when Retief’s on the scene things have a way of coming right in the end.”
2. A Pail of Air, Fritz Leiber (1964) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)
From the inside flap: “Underdogs of the world — unite! Fritz Leiber is on your side. Why else his sympathetic understanding for the little man who finds a (tadpole-sized) nude in his bathtub? Or the sucker busy collecting gold for a time-traveller? Or for what goes on in the mind of a soldier on Mars? Or for the beatniks living in a merry mess out among the stars? Or for the artists caught in the desperate coils of the Ultimate Symbol? (This one really is a dilly) Fortunately for the happy reader, the world is full of underdogs.”
3. At the Seventh Level, Suzette Haden Elgin (1972)
(George Barr’s cover for the 1972 edition)
From the back cover: “Sexual chauvinism was the foundation of that world’s structure. Coyote Jones had never heard of Abba until he was assigned there. It was a remotely beautiful world, but one which had been admitted to the society of civilized planets only after it had made concessions on its degrading treatment of women. Until then, women were considered as not human, as a sort of necessary beast, but no more. The concessions had been slight — but as a result one brilliant female, Jacinth, had risen to the very stop of the strange society to the Seventh Level. Thereby she had become the spiteful target of male fury, female envy, and finally of a devious evil plot that might cost the world its status. What Coyote Jones found on Abba, the sensuality of the surface, the sexual horror underneath, and the meaning of human dignity is a novel worth of the talents of the most gifted new SF writer since Samuel R. Delany and Roger Zelazny.”
4. The Stochastic Man, Robert Silverberg (magazine 1975)
(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)
From the back cover: “Lews Nichols’ business, at the end of the twentieth century, was stochastic prediction — high-powered guesswork. He was very good at this well-paying, sophisticated, and technical species of witchcraft. And he was quite content with the sultry and sensuous Indian beauty he had married. Lews Nichols’ life was as placid as an electron flow — until a fateful day in March ’99 when he met Martin Carvajal. From the first, Lew got strange vibrations from the sullen and eccentric millionaire: “Your computer models,” said Carvajal, “allow you to guess the future. Now I will show you how to control it!”