Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. LXXX (Bishop + Herbert + Malzberg + Offutt)

Stopped briefly in St. Louis to peruse a used book store and came across these…  Another work by one of my new favorite SF authors, Michael Bishop.  Short stories by Frank Herbert, and an intriguing post-apocalyptical vision by Andrew J. Offutt (with a fantastic Powers cover).

Unfortunately, Malzberg’s lesser novel Tactics of Conquest (1974) — according to later admission expanded from a short story in only four days! — tempted me, but it was only one dollar…


1. Stolen Faces, Michael Bishop (1977)

(Steve Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “The Muphormers had been reduced to utter depravity.  Cursed with a mutilating, leprous disease, the Long Quarantine had condemned them to a life of hideous poverty and degredation.  Or so Lucian, newly appointed kommissar had been led to believe.  As he watched them prey mercilessly on one another, fighting for the narcotic heartsease and the scant food supplies, compassion moved him to take up their cause, unaware that he thus bound his fate irrevocably to these ravaged outcasts, and would face a truth no civilized being could be expected to bear.”

2.  The Castle Keeps, Andrew J. Offutt (1972)

Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 10.25.00 PM

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover: “THE SHAPE OF CHAOS.  The Andrews in their hilltop home had only ancient weapons to defend themselves from roving bands of ravagers….  The Caudills were protected in their sealed-up apartment building in the city — but stifled by the restraints of their artificial environment…  Not since No Blade of Grass has a science fiction novel so brilliant caught the gripping terror civilization gone berserk!”

3. The Book of Frank Herbert, Frank Herbert (1973)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover: “The Dune creator’s own selection of his ten best.  Moody, terrifying, prophetic… these ten startling stories of mankind’s encounters with a deep and alien universe are Frank Herbert’s own favorites.  The best introduction to one of today’s most exciting authors, they illuminate and expand the vision that has made his legendary DUNE epic one of SF’s all-time bestsellers.”

4. Tactics of Conquest, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “The Overloads [sic — YES, it is MISSPELLED] ordained it: this intergalactic chess match between two evenly matched grandmasters to decide the fate of the universe.  If David wins, all evil-doers will be painfully obliterated.  Bit if he is checkmated, the forces of good will be moved out of existence…. and thousands of years of chaos will begin.  Can David trust the Overlords?  Can he strike a bargain with his vile opponent and extend the games into an endless series of draws.  Will his careful defense be torn apart by his own hands?  The grandmasters know the truth: that only the game matters… that it is really about nothing.  And everything.”

15 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. LXXX (Bishop + Herbert + Malzberg + Offutt)

    • Apparently in his non-fiction book Engines of the Night (1981) he discusses the process of creating this one. Not sure which stories he combined. I have Day of the Burning on my shelf. I should read it first.

  1. My friend! So much for telling us that you’ll be cutting back on the sci-fi purchases .., clearly we’ve been bit by the same bug.
    My other trouble is that I also buy multiple copies of the same works if one is in better condition than the title back home or has a cooler looking cover.
    Yes, my dad introduced me to PKD about 5 years ago.. and although I’m obsessed with the sci-fi genre, it doesn’t help that I keep your site as my default homepage.

  2. Tactics of Conquest seems a curious book. On one hand it is a simple premise with great potential for failure (i.e. there is no way the fate of the universe could, in any realistic sense, hinge on a single chess game between two mere men). But on the other, it is Malzberg, and it would be strange were it not to have an abstract layer beneath this pulp premise that legitimizes the whole thing…

    I’ll be curious to someday see your review.

    • I just read The Men Inside (1973) — it was amazing… I think the downfall of many of his visions is the speed in which he wrote them. Sometimes they seem like they could be slightly more refined — my only complain with The Men Inside is along these lines. Some of the cool ideas are abandoned about half way through.

      But yes, I’m weirdly curious about this one despite my lack of chess knowledge.

  3. I love these books and your posts. The covers are amazing. I recently came across an edition of Spellslinger by Alan Dean Foster, great cover, very offbeat story. I’d be happy to contribute a guest post about it if your interested? Thanks John

  4. Was it Patten’s or Dunaway’s books? Dunaway’s SF selection seems to have shrunk over the past year, so I go to Patten’s more often, but I usually find something interesting at both places.

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