Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CI (Clarke + Bishop + Varley + Maclennan)

A nice range of SF authors/works!  A Michael Bishop collection containing many of his most famous 70s short stories for my upcoming guest post series….  And a SF juvenile written by Phyllis Maclennan with an intriguing premise (although, as always, I’m very dubious about juveniles in general).  John Varley’s famous novel Titan (1979) seems like a fascinating take on the Big Dumb Object trope. And finally a 50s adventure by the indomitable Arthur C. Clarke.

I am most intrigued by the Varley’s Titan and Bishop’s Blooded on Arachne.

Some of the covers are cringe inducing.


1. Titan, John Varley (1979)


(Ron Waltosky’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the inside flap: “TITAN: The word aptly describes this big, important new SF novel by the popular young author of The Ophiuchi Hotline, a Hugo Nominee.  In the tradition of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama, and Larry Niven’s Ringworld, John Varley has created an extraordinary setting for fantastic adventured.  In TITAN, Varley has embarked on a masterwork, the creation of Gaea, the Titan, an astronomically huge creature in orbit around the planet Saturn.  Captain Cirocco “Rocky” Jones and her crew soon realize that the awesome object they have found can only be an artifact of alien intelligence.  Abandoning all previous plans, the Ringmaster sets about investigating the enormous wheel-shaped structure.  But before they even have a chance to establish orbit around it, Gaea sends out tentacles, pulls the Ringmaster apart, and draws the crew deep inside its bowels.  There they remain, isolated from one another, in a state of near-total sensory deprivation, while Gaea works her mysteries on their minds. After an unknown period of time, Rocky and her crew are disgorged into the Titan’s incredible internal world—an organic kaleidoscope of a fairyland which they share with centaurs, harpies, angels, mudfish, not-quite-kangaroos, whalelike things that sail through the sky and other indescribable products of a Disneyesque imagination.  Though this world seems benign, almost a paradise, Rocky is too well trained to accept it at face value.  And too curious.  She sets out to find her crew, re-establish her command, and find out what makes Gaea tick. Rocky’s store is an odyssey through this unpredictable world, a trip fraught with unexpected dangers and dazzling discoveries, leading her ultimately to the intelligence that presides over Gaea.

2. Blooded on Arachne, Michael Bishop (1982)


(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1983 edition)

No back cover or inside summary of contents.  Contains 11 short works and two poems.

3. Turned Loose on Idra, Phyllis Maclennan (1970)


(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition)

From the inside flap: “Even before Graduation Week, William Nagy Judson had some nasty suspicions about his future.  At the end of that week every other sentient being of his Age Group in the Galactic Union would receive a Life Assignment card—a secure niche in the smoothly running, computerized organization of the known universe.  But how could there be a Life Assignment card for him, Bill Judson, who had spent his entire life to date resolutely refusing to fit into any mold the system could devise?  He was hardly even surprised, therefore, when instead of a card he received a summons to the local government center, a computerized dressing-down and an open assignment to an undeveloped, unexplored class III planet at the very edge of the galaxy.  “It’s called Irdra,” explained the computer, “and there’s something fishy there.  I don’t know what it is (after all, I’m a computer), but I’m going to turn you loose there to find out  And you’d better make it good.”  So Bill was off to Irdra, to a situation which included a small planetary rebellion, a clever exploitation scheme, a civilization based on the principles of government—and the very unorthodox tendencies of William Nagy Judson.  This is fast moving science fiction with an especially engaging hero.”

4. The Deep Range, Arthur C. Clarke (1957)


(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1958 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “A happy blend of Mr. Clarke’s impressive talents as astronomer, deep-sea naturalist, and novelist, The Deep Range takes place in an unusual setting, the depths of the sea, about a hundred years in the future.  At this point in time the earth’s population is fed principally from the sea, on whale products and the yield of plankton farms.  The hero of the story is a grounded spaceship engineer assigned to a submarine patrol tending the whale herds.  Separated forever from his family, natives of the Mars colony, who cannot make the adjustment to Earth, he is compelled to redesign his whole life.  In his new environment he soon finds, as will the reader, excitements and problems no less engrossing than those of space.”

9 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CI (Clarke + Bishop + Varley + Maclennan)

  1. I really liked Varley’s “Persistance of Vision”,but haven’t read any of his novels,and feel dubious about “Titan”.

    • I have Persistence of Vision and The Ophiuchi Hotline — but, haven’t touched them yet. Despite the fact that Varley is a fellow Texan (I know longer live in the state but, still!).

  2. Titan runs dangerously close to being a fiasco but doesn’t quite trip over into being just too loopy to read. (I understand the follow-ups get a bit more loopy and describes centaur sex in too much detail but I’ve not read them.)

    Turned Loose on Idra sounds like it might be one of the most 1970-ish books out there and I’m eager to see more about it.

  3. You were right about some of the covers being a bit cringeworthy. turned Loose On Idra is probably my favourite here.

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