Part 3 of 5 acquisition posts covering my haul from Dawn Treader books in Ann Arbor, Michigan…. The only Sturgeon novel I’ve read was the masterpiece (and rightly so) More Than Human (1953) so I was thrilled when I found not one but three copies of Venus Plus X (1960). Unfortunately, I was not able to scour the shelves closely enough to find a first edition and thus am stuck with Gray Marrow’s cover for the 1968 Pyramid Science Fiction edition. But, I went ahead and posted the first edition art instead because it’s without doubt Victor Kalin’s best cover…..
Sheckley is brilliant so I snatched up another collection of his short stories without hesitation.
The two other authors are ones I have heard about but never read — Charles L. Harness and Madelaine Duke. Duke’s novel was a complete risk due to the ridiculous sounding premise but I love reading works by unknown authors. Harness is claimed by some to be one of the great authors whose neglect, in the words of John Clute in the SF encyclopedia entry on Harness, “is difficult to understand.” His work sounds like my cup of tea….
Thoughts? Has anyone read Charles L. Harness?
1. Venus Plus X, Theodore Sturgeon (1960) (MY REVIEW)
(Victor Kalin’s cover for the 1960 edition)
From the back cover of a later edition: “Charlie Johns woke up… and nearly went mad. He was in a world of strange inventions, unheard-of buildings, unfamiliar language, and creatures who were like men but not men… or women. As the truth of what had happened dawned on him, he fought hard to keep his rip on sanity. The one thing he could cling to was the knowledge of his identity. I am Charlie Johns: he told himself fiercely, over and over again. But he was wrong…”
2. Pilgrimage to Earth, Robert Sheckley (1957)
(Uncredited cover for the 1957 edition)
From the back cover for a later edition: “The science-fiction of one minute is the non-fiction of the next. And Robert Sheckley lives that one illuminating minute ahead of the rest of us. He knows the future intimately — from the trouble with a super-powered ship with its own moral views on proper destinations, to the low-down on the interplanetary mail-order-bride business. Sheckley is an exciting young talent — an extrapolating philosopher let loose in time and the galaxy. He is sometimes funny, sometimes bloodcurdling, always a little disquieting.”
3. The Ring of Ritornel, Charles L. Harness (1968)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)
From the back cover: “THE RING OF RITORNEL creates a future world of terror and beauty, peopled with remarkable characters such as Omere, poet laureate of the home planet, Goris-Kard, and his brother Jamie, who is trapped between the opposing forces of Ritornel and Alea, a reluctant pawn in the future of his universe. It is a science fiction novel of the most imaginative, poetic and stimulating kind, and is at the same time an exciting allegory of birth and rebirth, life and death, creation and re-creation.”
4. Claret, Sandwiches and Sin, Mardelaine Duke (1964)
(Uncredited cover for the 1969 edition)
From the back cover: “The Doomsday Ladies. Picture a refined group of ladies discussing their next international political assassination over sips of claret. The garden club is a quiet oasis in a world where Africa has gone pre-fab; the new look is the ‘Optiman’ (radiation victims who have changed into Cyborgs) and men are still waging furious politics.”