An intriguing range of SF novels… A few thrift store pickups and a few sent by my father. Excited about the John Haldeman fix-up novel All My Sins Remembered (1977). Won’t read the Brunner for a long long time—but I’m a Brunner completists so I buy his books on sight if I don’t have a copy.
Still haven’t read anything by Charles L. Harness…. Not sure about this 80s rewrite of his late 40s serialized novel. We shall see.
1. All My Sins Remembered, John Haldeman (1977)
(Paul Stinson’s cover for the 1977 edition)
From the back cover of the later 1978 Orbit collection: ” An audacious and suspenseful vision of the future by Joe Haldeman, on the grand scale of MINDBRIDGE and THE FOREVER WAR. In a universe of strange, threatening and mutated creatures, Otto McGavin acts as undercover agent for the Confederación. A mild, unassuming man, two years of intensive hypnotic training have turned him into a Prime Operator with TB II. His technology enables him to take on the appearance and personality of any enemy. And to protect the legal rights of humans and non-humans he is prepared to lie, cheat, steal and kill his way across the galaxy.”
2. Naked to the Stars, Gordon R. Dickson (1961)
(Peter Elson’s cover for the 1978 edition)
From the back cover: ” THE UNIVERSAL SOLDIER…. Lieutenant Cal Truant had never questioned the methods of the Assault Wing, 91st Combat Engineers, of which he was a fighting part. As his unit swept across the galaxy, conquering new worlds, he accepted the official dictate that the only good alien was an enslaved or dead one. But during a bloody battle on a war-torn planet, something happened to Cal Truant. Somehow, sixteen hours of his life were wiped from his memory. Cal became obsessed with solving the mystery buried in his mind. And what he eventually found forced him to rethink, in a spectacular way, the whole purpose of his life…”
3. The Paradox Men, Charles L. Harness (1949 magazine publication)
(Michael Booth’s cover for the 1984 edition)
From the inside flap: “Who is Alar the Thief? What has happened to his memory, and what is the origin of his strange powers? Is he the same man who stepped out of a mysterious space ship that crashed on Earth five years before and identical ship was scheduled to leave? And what of Keiris, the mysterious dark-eyed woman who hides Alar from his enemies? Who is behind the Meganet mind—a servant or destroyer of the dictatorship? What role are these people to play in upsetting the totalitarian Imperium that now strives to rule Earth in this grim year of A. D. 2177.
Charles L. Harness’s novel mixes elements of the swashbuckling space adventure with the most esoteric ideas of time travel and culminates in a grandiose attempt to change the destiny of mankind. Its hero confronts a decadent world about to destroy itself, and he must undergo death and transfiguration at the edge of the Sun to rescue human history from its endless cycle of growth and decay and from the waste of tyranny.
A shorter version of Harness’s story was first published in a 1949 issue of Startling Stories under the title Flight into Yesterday. An expanded version first appeared in 1953. In 1955 editor Donald A. Wollheim retitled the story The Paradox Men for a new Ace paperback. It has been unavailable to American readers for nearly three decades. Extensively revised by the author, this is now the definitive edition of a genuine science fiction classic.”
4. Manshape, John Brunner (1982)
(David B. Mattingly’s cover fir the 1982 edition)
From the back cover: “The interstellar Bridge System was the greatest invention in the long history of cosmic humanity. Spread through dozens of planets, men and their societies had drifted apart in isolation until the Bridge came to link together humanity’s multifold worlds… and had affirmed once more that all men were brothers and sisters under the skin. But the far away world of Azreal was the exception, the one dissident world that had refused the Bridge. It became the task of two agents, a man and a woman, to bring back Azreal into manshape unity, to ferret out the hidden reasons for the stubborn refusal. The problem, with its perils and high risks, was to involve more than just secrets, for MANSHAPE is a John Brunner novel that deals with the very fabric of civilization…”