Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIII (Aldiss + Nourse + Biggle, Jr. + Levy + Coleman)

Part 4 of 5 acquisition posts covering my haul from the marvelous SF bookstore Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Part I, Part II, Part III).

Three of the five books have been on my to acquire list for long time.  I adore Brian Aldiss’ early work (Non-Stop is one of my favorite SF novels) so I snatched up Starswarm (1964) without a moment’s hesitation.  Lloyd Biggle, Jr. writes very unusual (not sure if it’s good) SF — The Light That Never Was (1972) certainly had potential despite its flaws.  Regardless, The World Menders (1971) is supposedly his best work (despite the egregious Freas cover it was “graced” with).  After reading some good reviews of some of Alan E. Nourse’s 1950s medical themed stories, I’ve been looking for a copy of the fix-up novel The Mercy Men (1955).  The remaining two novels in this post were in the 50 cent clearance section — both have stunning covers (Powers + Lehr) and are probably absolutely atrocious reads.

1. Starswarm, Brian Aldiss (1964)

(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “10,000 Brave New Worlds.  One million years have passed since ancient man first launched his frail metal crafts into the great darkness named “outer space.”  Now, distant galactic clusters are home to the myriad descendants of the inhabitants of Old Earth.  Now, each world, light years separate from the others, forms part of an island universe called “Starswarm.”  Yet each island remains bound to all the others, for the creates that people Starswarm were once of the race called Human, and among these 10,000 brave new worlds, man’s brutal, timeless struggle for conquest still goes on…”

2. The World Menders, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1971)

(Kelly Freas’ rather awful cover for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover: “On the world of Branoff IV live the RASCZ, an artistic, superbly civilized race.  Few of them are aware that their prosperous civilization is totally dependent upon the OLZ, a race of slaves owned by their god-emperor.  The OLZ till the fields and work the forests and mines, and their reward is starvation and the whip.  Cultural Survey trainee Cedd Farrari receives a routine assignment to Interplanetary Relations Bureau headquarters on Branoff IV.  His delight with the culture of the RASCZ is shattered when he becomes aware of the horrible plight of the OLZ.  He dedicates himself to their liberation, and to achieve that he must become one of them — must share their body-destroying labor and their starvation and torture.  As he pursues his quest he finds himself leading the OLZ in the strangest rebellion ever described in truth or fiction: the RASCZ, the mater race, don’t know their slaves are rebelling.  Neither to the slaves!”

3. The Mercy Men (variant title: A Man Obsessed), Alan E. Nourse (1955) (MY REVIEW)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “Medical Mercenaries.  It’s the 22th century and mass mental illness is reaching epidemic proportions.  At the Hoffman Medical Center, illegal brain research is performed on living subjects.  The victims come as volunteers, already mad enough to risk their remaining sanity for the high process Hoffman offers.  These new-age mercenaries go by the ironic title of — The Mercy Men.”

4. The Gods of Foxcroft, David Levy (1970)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “PRISONERS OF EVERLASTING LIFE!  They fell in love on Planet Earth in the twentieth century, A.D.  Five hundred years later, miraculously returned to earth but still human and vulnerable, they amok to a man-made world that had ruled out love in favor of science.  A world in space where no one was allowed to die and the only sin was attempted suicide.  Could they adjust to a second life that would never end?  Could they outwit the masters of outer space, The Gods of Foxcroft?”

5. Seeker from the Stars, James Nelson Coleman (1967)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “It began merely as an investigatory mission — Chris Everman’s assignment on Earth as to evaluate the planet’s readiness for membership in the intergalactic peacekeeping forces of the Black Watch.  But upon his arrival, Everman found himself being pursued by the Terran secret police, only to gall prey to the alien Zidon, a deadly, multi-tentacled creature.  In a breathless chase from Earth to the secret slave colonies of Mars and Venus, Everman falls captive to his alien pursuer, only to discover that the fate of Earth’s future depends on the ultimate victor in their life-and-death struggle.”

18 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIII (Aldiss + Nourse + Biggle, Jr. + Levy + Coleman)”

  1. Those covers so iconicly place the books in the 60s/70s you could probably guess their publication dates just based on the cover art. I wonder what the current cover art themes are and if we’ll look back on them in 40 years with the same awe/horror/amazement.

    1. Random question, does Freas’ horrid “fuzzy/happy/silly” covers (à la the one for Biggle, Jr.’s book, The World Menders above) bother you as much as it bothers me? 😉

      1. I’m not sure “bothers” is the right word. It’s silly, but more “hippy-dippy” than annoying. I do find ones like the cover of Mercy Men to be much more bothersome and actually difficult and disgusting to look at. Guess I’d rather silly than gross!

  2. I’d vote for the uncredited Aldiss cover as the best. Lehr is my all-time favorite SF artist, but the example here doesn’t do much for me. Lehr is at his best when all the elements in a painting are vague, uncertain – loosely defined. That’s when he excels at creating a scene of overwhelming mystery (or awe, or wonder). But he falls short when he depicts things too clearly or literally, like all the tubing in this one (a very tired visual trope from countless old pulp covers).

  3. I LOVE Dawn Treader! Haven’t been in years. You got some beauties!

    Next time you are in that area, try to make it to John King Books in Detroit. It’s about an hour from Ann Arbor, and worth it.

    1. I know! I could have bought a good 200 books (no joke). Not sure when I’ll head to Detroit — I don’t live in Michigan or anything…. As long as it has a huge section of vintage SF I’m a happy person!

        1. Well, I have many many more — but I only post about the new purchases. I’m not a collector per se — I’m much more of a reader… I like particular artists but don’t go out of my way to buy articular covers or first editions or signed copies etc.

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