Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIV (Wilhelm + Spinrad + Ball + Vance)

Another wonderful batch including two novellas by Kate Wilhelm in the collection Abyss (1971).

A Norman Spinrad novel, The Men in the Jungle (1967), courtesy of the MPorcius, the proprietor of MPorcius Fiction Log.  I sent him a portion of my wall of shame (i.e. worst SF novels) and got a few worthwhile ones in return…

Another Vance novel courtesy of MPorcius as well—one of the Demon Prince novels.  Do I have to read them in order?

And Brian N. Ball’s first novel, Sundog (1965).  I thought Singularity Station (1973) was unadulterated pulp fun.

So the Spinrad novel critiques pulp and Ball revels in pulp…

Thoughts?

1. Abyss, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

(Lou Feck’s cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “Abyss anyone?  Enter Kate Wilhelm’s realm of extrasensory perception, alternate universes, alien monsters, and something else, something much more strange… the abyss that lurks near each of us, ready to destroy us… or set us free.”

2. The Men In the Jungle, Norman Spinrad (1967)

(Uncredited for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “THE KILLER PLANET.  Sangre has been ruled for three centuries by the cruel and corrupt Brotherhood of Pain, a priesthood dedicated to torture, murder, slavery, and even cannibalism.  Bart Fraden senses on this distant planet the potential for revolution: tyranny and a brutalized people.  But as his brilliant psychological war against Sangre’s capital city progresses, he is forced to recognize the possible disastrous consequences of his desire to leave a people to a better life.  Sangre may cost him more than his life—it could destroy his soul…”

3. Sundog, Brian N. Ball (1965)

(Don Crowley’s cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “THE CAPTIVE HUMAN RACE.  An unthinkably vast, invisible, and absolutely impenetrable screen imprisoned man within the solar system.  Cut off from the stars, men applied their ingenuity to themselves, setting up a world of total control—where even dreams were programmed.”

4. The Face, Jack Vance (1979)

(Uncredited cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover: “THE FACE.  Lens Larque was a man other men would die rather than look upon.  A man so physically repellant and so steeped in evil that even the Darsh, a race who wallowed in every foulness and abomination, held him in fear and loathing.  Shunner throughout the Oikumene, Lens Larque was not bent on vengeance—and a vengeance as sadistic, as ugle, and as brilliant devious as only his twisted genius could devise.  Only one man could stop him: a solitary avenger sworn to drink the blood of the five Demon Princes who had killed his parents.  His name was Kirth Gersen.  And Lens Larque was fourth on his roster of death.”

23 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIV (Wilhelm + Spinrad + Ball + Vance)”

  1. “Another Vance novel courtesy of MPorcius as well—one of the Demon Prince novels. Do I have to read them in order?”

    Not really. Once you accept the basic plot that Gersen is trying to track down the five princes, that’s one book per prince and off you go. The Face is the fourth and has what’s intended as an amusing ending. It’s a long time since I read these books but I seem to recall The Face was a rewritten version of The View from Chickweed’s Window (1979), the original published as a straight mystery and the other as a science fiction novel. I may be wrong. Someone else with a better memory or some research books may be able to confirm.

      1. noo…my book of norman spinrad namen is blood planet or planet of blood …and not the men in the jungle …australian british edition? canadian ? the year 197? i never read the end ,,,lost book in the comuter system

      2. no seems to be a title out of the anglo-american empire the italian is similar Il pianeta Sangre
        by Norman Spinrad, Gabriele Tamburini (Translator)
        3.49 of 5 stars 3.49 · rating details · 113 ratings · 12 reviews
        Da tre secoli, Sangre è governato e dominato dalla crudele e corrotta Confraternita del Dolore, una casta quasi sacerdotale dedita alla tortura, all’omicidio, allo schiavismo e persino al cannibalismo. Bart Fraden intuisce che su questo pianeta remoto esistono le possibilità di una rivoluzione, poiché il popolo è tiranneggiato e vittima delle peggiori brutalità. Instaura quindi una specie di guerra, per buona parte psicologica, contro i dominatori e in particolare contro la città capitale di Sangre. Sono episodi pieni di avventura e di tensione. Ma lo stesso Bart, a mano mano che la sua guerra progredisce, è costretto a prendere atto delle conseguenze disastrose che potrebbero nascere dal suo desiderio di condurre un popolo a una vita migliore. Sangre potrebbe costargli più che la vita: potrebbe distruggere la sua anima.well domagi….

  2. As David Marshall suggests, each of the Demon Princes novels is a self-contained plot with little reference to the earlier volumes. It’s certainly not like the The Lord of the Rings which is one book split into three parts.

    I thought the ending of The Face was brilliant, very satisfying. I’ve never read The View from Chickweed’s Window, but the very title makes it sound like its plot might be similar to The Face.

    1. Fully agreed on the “brilliant, very satisfying” ending of The Face. Because of that, in fact, I think it is the best of the five Demon Prince books, which, as a whole, are average Vance.

      Spinrad, Spinrad, Spinrad…. I’ve seen his name enough times that I’ve resolved to consume. I see that Bug Jack Barron is considered his most well-known, but is it a good starting point?

      1. I read your review when it came out. I believe it is the first “Spinrad” in my comment above. The second “Spinrad” is from side commentary I’ve read on this blog, and the third is from coming across Spinrad’s name in other blogs… It’s time. I’ll look in The Iron Dream. If I remember correctly, there is Hitler on a motorcycle on the cover. A promising start…

  3. Would love to get my hands on that early Ball novel… and Wilhelm’s small collection has a few good morsels to ponder over. I reviewed it back in 2012 and it remains in my collection, so something tickled my brain. Hope it does the same for you.

    1. I remembered your Wilhelm review! I know her favorite form was the novella (Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang was comprised of previously published novellas). I’m rather enamored with some of her short stories — I reviewed her collection The Infinity Box a while back and was impressed.

      I think the Ball will be fun — and the book smelled nice (weird I know).

  4. Fabulous cover for the Spinrad novel, I’m a little jealous. I’m also a book sniffer too Joachim, nothing weird about it.

  5. My first ever Vance was the first in his Demon Princes series (The Star King, 1964) and I was quite disappointed. However, I’m assured by intelligent Vance fans/friends that his other work is much better and that he truly is one of the greats, so I will try him again. Apparently The Dying Earth sequence is his masterpiece…..

    1. I’ve read The Blue World (1966), Big Planet (1952), City of the Chasch (1968), Marune: Alastor, 933 (1975), Showboat World (1975), and Wyst: Alastor, 1716 (1978). I understand why people enjoy his work but none have blown me away. That said, I need a copy of The Dying Earth.

      1. I will probably get myself skewered here, but, The Dying Earth (the original collection) is not that great. Written early in Vance’s career, the style has not yet cohered into what makes Vance, Vance. Tales from the Dying Earth, on the other hand, which is a collection of two additional novels and one collection in the same setting, is significantly better. Produced in the latter part of his career, everything is original and is written in inimitable style. Cugel and his adventures are one of a kind and are to be enjoyed for the off-center voice as much as a pure flight of imagination they are. Let the critics pounce on me…

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