One of the better groups of acquisitions in a while! After Katherine MacLean’s masterpiece Missing Man (1975) I was very excited to come across a collection of her late 40s and 50s short stories. Unfortunately, my edition — from 1973— had such an awful cover that I couldn’t put in on this post. Instead, I put the first edition cover by Paul Lehr which is simply gorgeous….
Ballard collections are always welcome! I have all of his short works in a single volume but the Powers cover is top-notch.
One of Ian Watson’s most famous novels…
And an unknown work by Brian Aldiss, Enemies of the System (1978)… Has anyone read it? I suspect it will be the weakest book of the bunch.
1. The Diploids, Katherine MacLean (1962)
(Uncredited — but looks like Lehr — cover for the 1962 edition)
From the back cover for a later edition: “Here is science fiction reading at its best — including these chilling tales that are almost too frightening real: CLiff Baker had been away on the Pluto Project for a long time. When he returned to Station A, he found everyone humming and talking in a weird discordant way… After the great peace the conformity syndrome grew and grew. If you wore your hat backwards you were a seditioner, and then the vigilantes went to work…. They were from another planet but very similar to human life on Earth. Only there was one terrible difference…. Part of Ronny wanted to continue playing Indian games. Dr. Purcell concentrating on secret equations that he wanted to pass on to responsible posterity. Which one would win?”
2. Enemies of the System, Brian Aldiss (1978)
(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1981 edition)
From the back cover of a later edition: “NIGHTMARE UTOPIA. Transformed by the perfect system of Biological Communism, a new man has inherited the planet Earth — Homo uniformis (Man ALike Throughout) to whom passion, violence, and doubt are all things unknown. In celebration of the one millionth anniversary of Utopi, fifty-two elitists make a voyage to a distant planet to spread the message of BioCom. But on Lysenka II a strange and terrible test awaits the perfect visitors from Earth. or in the wilds of that and lurks the last mutant children of an ancient savage species. They are called Homo sapiens, the deadly…”
3. Billenium, J. G. Ballard (1962)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)
From the back cover: “J.G. Ballard is the brightest new star to shine among today’s top writers of science fiction. Only Brian Aldiss, Theodore Sturgeon, and Arthur B. Clarke can rival him in his uncanny mastery of this fantastic new world. In BILLENIUM, you will read stories in which: A piece of sculpture takes on a life of its own, but it just wouldn’t stop growing… Time has become the greatest of all evils, and the possession of a time-piece has become the deadliest of all crimes… A young man goes on a strange voyage to the west, arriving at his destination the very moment of his departure…”
4. The Embedding, Ian Watson (1973)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1977 edition)
From the inside flap: “The ancient omen of a cosmic birth that shook the universe. As man’s destiny danced with the drug-inspired visions of a tribal priest deep in the Amazon jungle, his birthright was being optioned by an alien sales agent from outer space. At that same instant humanity’s survival hung on the fulfillment of a mystical omen. The supernatural, ultra-shocking coming of a mutant messiah. THE EMBEDDING…. AN ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE BEYOND MIND OR MATTER.”