Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIII (McCaffrey + Gunn + Spinrad + Sellings)

My first collection (and a big one at that) of Norman Spinrad short stories!  I loved The Iron Dream (1972).  I’ve also wanted to give Anne McCaffrey’s non-Pern SF a shot (loved Pern as a kid).  Although, it does look rather silly, catlike aliens are generally not my idea of fun.  Another novel by James Gunn, one he claims is his best…. And, one of those impulsive type acquisitions of unknown quality, The Power of X (1968) by Arthur Sellings.


1. Kampus, James E. Gunn (1977)

(Bob Larkin’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “1984 is the good old days.  On America’s campuses, professors hawk their courses, dozens of political groups compete in violence and computer-dating means having sex with a computer.  It may not be all grind, but it isn’t fun and games—as one senior finds out when he kidnaps his favorite professor—and kills him for his knowledge.”

2. Decision at Doona, Anne McCaffrey (1969)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “THE DESTINY OF DOONA.  After the first human contact with the Siwannese, that entire race committed mass suicide.  So the Terran government made a law—no further contact would be allowed with sentient creatures anywhere in the galaxy.  Therefore Doona could be colonized only if an official survey established that the planet was both habitable and uninhabited.  But Spacedep had made a mistake—Doona was inhabited.  Now the colonists’ choice was limited.  Leave Doona and return to the teeming hell of an overpopulated Terra.  Or kill the catlike Hrrubans.  Or learn, for the first time in history, how to coexist with an alien race…”

3.  The Star-Spangled Future, Norman Sprinrad (1979)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: American Dream/American Nightmare:  Fourteen stories in search of the future.  ‘America is something new under this sun.  Not so much a nation at all as a precog flash of the future of the species…. ‘I wrote (The Star-Spangled Future) beieving that I was simpl writing disconnected science fiction stories from whatever came into my head…  And they all turn out to be about America, the leading edge of the possible futures unfolding around us…  After all, that was what was coming into my head, that’s the mother lode of all science fiction realities—the American fusion plasma of which we are creatures—and all we have to do is keep ourselves open to it… that’s my definition of science fiction.  We have seen the future and it is us.’ — Norman Spinrad from his introduction.”

4. The Power of X, Arthur Sellings (1968)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “The year is 2018.  The place is London, where a renamed Buckingham Palace is now the home of the President of a European Federation of states.  An outstanding feature of life in London in 2018 is Plying—a recently discovered method for producing duplicates that are absolutely indistinguishable from the originals.  For a variety of reasons, mainly the staggering expense, Plying is limited to valuable works of art, intricate industrial mechanisms, etc.  And the process is a highly guarded government monopoly.  Then a young art dealer named Max Afford discovers that he can tell an original by touching it!  But a shocking incident forces him into action—action that lands him in the middle of a plot to break into Europa Palace in the hop of saving this Plied society…”

5 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIII (McCaffrey + Gunn + Spinrad + Sellings)

  1. I read Kampus a few years ago, and uploaded the cover to Goodreads. Very, very strange book. Seems like it should have been made into a failed and forgotten 70s sci-fi movie like “Idaho Transfer” or some kind of sci-fi “Zabriskie Point.” Not sure I liked the cavalier treatment of rape, but it was satirical. Clearly a professor sick of his hippie students.

      • Sounds interesting, except that the Publishers’ Weekly review tips us off that the ending is anti-climactic, whether it’s to leave room open for more, or just a bad ending.

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