Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XLV (Heinlein + Farmer + Shaw + Lanier)

My San Antonio, TX haul….

I’ve read multiple of Shaw’s books in the past — they are often intriguing on the conceptual level but fall apart during delivery (Ground Zero Man, One Million Tomorrows)….  But, the back cover of Shadow of Heaven (1969) was intriguing enough to grab a copy.

The multiple Farmer novels I’ve read (most of the Riverworld series and Traitor to the Living) were trash.  But, I’m willing to give him another go — against my better judgement.

Heinlein is overrated but readable and Stephen Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey (1973) is supposed to be an intriguing post-apocalyptical tale….

1. Shadow of the Heaven, Bob Shaw (1969)

(George Underwood’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover of the first edition: “THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN.  The official designation of the giant antigravity disk floating 3 miles high was International Land Extension U.S. 23; but in the fam-apts and dormitories in its shadow it was known as “Heaven.”  The name was let over from the early days of the Compression when its open green spaces and thin clean air were tantalizing reminders of the earth’s past.  People never went there; it was operated by robots.  But Johnny Considine went there.  And found a community of fugitives who had reverted to savagery — a potential army needing only to become a terrible menace to earth…”

2. Behind the Walls of Terra, Philip José Farmer (1970)

(Bart Forbes’ cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “BEHIND THE WALLS OF TERRA.  Paul Janus Finnigan was called Kickaha on the artificial universes created by that always feuding super-race known as the Lords.  Though he was a mortal Earthman, he had managed to survive every intrigue, war, test and opponent they could devise.  But it was when he found his way back to his own world that Kickaha faced the greatest dangers of his adventure-filled career.  For he knew the secrets of the powers that moved the cosmos, and this made him a threat — a target of the terrible hidden forces contending for this very universe.”

3. Hiero’s Journey, Sterling E. Lanier (1973)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “Per Hiero Desteen. Priest. Telepath. Trained Killer.  He rode out on a perilous quest into a world at the end of time — in habited by shadowy forces, sudden terrors, violent death… by weird mutated beasts man had no name for… by the Leemutes — animals with human intelligence manipulated by the antilife Dark Brotherhood.  His mission: to discover the lost secret of the ancients in time to save humanity from destruction.  His one weapon: the human mind!”

4. Waldo & Magic, Inc., Robert Heinlein (first published together in 1950, novellas from ’40 an ’42)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “Waldo: An arrogant scientific genius, orbiting Earth in his private space station, solving the world’s problems for a VERY good fee..  Then the whole factual basis for the science he lived by DISAPPEARED… Magic, Inc.: The magicians had a monopoly — and they were using every trick of dirty politics and death-dealing spells to keep it… until two businessmen, a witch, and a “ghost sniffer” got on their trail… and followed it to Hell itself.”

8 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XLV (Heinlein + Farmer + Shaw + Lanier)

  1. I agree about Heinlein, He had a few really great books, but a lot of junk as well. For the really good early stuff go get E.E. Doc Smith or Stanley Weinbaum.

    • Well, I have trouble finding the “really great books.” I’ve read a huge proportion of his works….. What are your favorites? I haven’t read E. E. Doc Smith (I did try to read Triplanetary at one point) or any of Weinbaum’s works… As you can probably tell from my reviews, I prefer science fiction with a heavy social component.

      • E.E. smith wrote the Lensman series and is considered to be the first real Science fiction author. You can check out The Martian Odyssey or the novel The New Adam by Weinbaum, Asimov is probably the best at social science fiction, but there are a lot of fantasy writers who take on the subject well. as for Hienlain, I think stranger in a strange land was brilliant, but a lot of sci-fi writers got away from social issues in the 50’s after they were brought into the McCarthy hearings. You can also look into Orson Scott Card. His Ender’s game series is really good.

        • I seriously dislike Orson Scott Card. I have major issues with Ender’s Game + Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I have read a large percentage of the classic — 44 of 55 five or so Hugo winners….

          • I can think of a few dystopian books as well as several writers in the 50’s who wrote about life after atomic war, like Earth Abides and alas, babylon and On the Beach. there are alos fantasy writers like Ann McCaffery or Tolkein who write “high” fantasy which deals with social structures and politics, even George R. R. Martin, which I don’t really care for writes in that style.

            • Well, and then there’s Kornbluth — a few of his masterful short stories are similar to Malzberg in that he’s “de-mystifying” the space program — and being incredibly satirical in the process….

  2. Sterling Lanier was a very good author who, unfortunately did not produce many novels. He is best known for getting fired for buying Frank Herbert’s Dune. The book became a best seller for the book publisher who up to that time sold mostly car repair books, but they fired Lanier him anyway.
    His Hiero books are wonderfully imaginative, but the last book ends with a cliffhanger. Lanier died without completing the next book in the series. I am sure there is a box of notes and complete chapters somewhere just waiting for someone to finish the last novel.
    The striking thing about Lanier is that his style has a wonderful flavor in its rich descriptions and well rounded characters. The Hiero novels meander somewhat through a post apocalyptic landscape.


    • I heard something very similar about the quality of his works — hence, when I found it in the clearance section for one dollar languishing amongst horrid Star Trek novels, I snatched it up!

      I did not realize that he was an editor…. or that he bought Dune….


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