Part 1 of many: Half Price Books in Dallas, TX (the second best bookstore, after Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI for SF I have ever come across). Gift card courtesy of fiancé’s mother = LOTS OF SCIENCE FICTION. There could not be a better gift….
Everyone reads Robert Zelazny’s This Immortal (1966) and Lord of Light (1967), but who has read Isle of the Dead (1969)? Thematically it seems similar to Lord of Light… I have high hopes. James White’s SF is always above average — and a fund cover from Dean Ellis makes that an auto-buy. Although I disliked David Gerrold’s Space Skimmer (1972) my father swears Yesterday’s Children (1972) is somewhat readable.
I enjoyed Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen (1980), tolerated her first novel The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), so I suspect her two novella collection Fireship (1978) will be worthwhile…
1. Isle of the Dead, Robert Zelazny (1969)
(Leo and Dianne Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition)
From the inside flap of a later edition: “It is centuries in the future, and Francis Sandow is the only man alive who was born as long ago as the 20th Century. His body is kept young and in perfect health by advanced scientific methods; he has amassed such a fortune that he can own entire planets; and he has become a god. No, not a god of Earth, but one of the pantheon of the alien Pei’ans: he is Shimbo of Darktree, Shrugger of Thunders. Yet he doesn’t believe that his personality has merged with the ancient consciousness of Shimbo, that he really can call down the skies upon his enemies. The time comes, however, when Francis Sandow must use these powers against the most dangerous antagonist in the universe: another Pei’an god, Shimbo’s own enemy, Belion. And Belion has no doubt whatever of his own powers…”
2. Fireship (variant title: Fireship / Mother and Child), Joan D. Vinge (1978) (MY REVIEW)
(Stephen Hickman’s cover for the 1968 edition)
From the back cover: “Fireship: Ethan Ring was an incredibly synthesis of man (to be candid, not much of one) and computer (superior to anything ever before devised. Unhappily, his talents had made Earth too hot for him, to the tune of a half-million-dollar price on his head, and he fled to Mars for seclusion, safety, and a little fling at the fabulous casino of Khorram Kabir. For a superman, Ring had no luck — a lovely blackmailer found him and pressured him into agreeing to penetrate Kabir’s planet-wide computer network. That wasn’t a problem 00 but staying alive after he did it was…
Mother and Child: The king of the Neanne saw and desire the Kotaane priestess Etaa, and had her brutally taken from her husband. His joy was great when she gave birth — but the child she bore was not his… and was fated to be a major piece in an incomprehensible game that spanned the stars and would change the face of his world and its people forever.”
3. Yesterday’s Children, David Gerrold (1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1972 edition)
From the back cover: “The starship Roger Burlingame was an antiquated patched-up space destroyer, pressed into service by an Earth almost drained of resources. Its captain was a man desperately weary of war. Its first officer was a young fanatic lusting for his first space kill. Its crew was on the verge of mutiny. And its quarry was a maddeningly elusive starship that at any moment could turn and attack– if the men of the Roger Burlingame didn’t destroy themselves first… The Great War of Nerves.”
4. Deadly Litter, James White (1964)
(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1970 edition)
From the back cover: “James White has produced a long series of science fiction stories — notably those having to do with the long running of a remarkable space hospital (See STAR STURGEON and SPACE HOSPITAL) geared for all kinds of extra-terrestrial beings. In DEADLY LITTER, he turns his hand to the problems peculiar to men in space. Four ingenious tales explore some of the wild possibilities; the pressures, dangers, boredom man will have to suffer, and the courage it will take to get homo sapiens to live in a totally hostile environment. Excitement, suspense and the thread of realistic humor hold together these fast moving tales of the future.”