Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Wolfe + Clement + Mann + Wylie)

A nice batch of used book store finds.  Including the best of surprises i.e. when a clearance $1 SF novel by a rather famous author turns out to be signed!  I only realized it when I sat down to type up this post.

I have officially delved into the 80s—2theD at SF Potpourri included this novel in his “should be picked up by Gollancz Masterworks” list so I grabbed a hardback copy.

And some early Gene Wolfe….

And a what if women disappeared from the world novel by the author of When Worlds Collide (1933)…

Thoughts on any of the novels?

1.  The Fifth Head of Cerebrus, Gene Wolfe (1972)

(Martin Rigo’s cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover: “Sainte Croix and Sainte Anne… sister planets where the lives of humans and aliens merge like dreams and twist into nightmare.  A haunting, lyrical, finally chilling triptych:

—John Marsh, Terran anthropologist, searches for the truth about the vanished aboriginal culture of the sister planets.

—Sandwalker, an abo child, searches for Eastwind, the long-lost twin brother he ha met only in dreams.

—Number 5, reared in a Sainte Croix brother, searches for his identity in a world of genetically engineered aliens clothed in human bodies—and human memories.”

2. The Eye of the Queen, Phillip Mann (1982)

(Loretta Trezzo’s cover for the 1983 edition)

From the inside flap: “A novel of human travels into the world of superior aliens, set in galaxies of unexplored space.  a hundred years from now the human race has taken its first leap into space and has contacted alien species.  It is apparent that some unseen force is guiding the exploration.  There are no regions of space into which a human ship simply cannot travel… Gradually this superior force, the Pe-Ellians, reveal themselves.  Roughly humanoid, they stand over eleven feet tall and survive on karitsa, their unique wisdom-giving food.  Into this world travels Marius Thorndyke, earth’s foremost expert in alien linguistics, who then undertakes a mutual exploration with the Pe-Ellians that will determine the future relations between the two species.  The Eye of the Queen is an extraordinary evocation of an alien culture and philosophy, with implications that will entrance the most demanding sci-fi aficionado.”

3.  Close to Critical, Hal Clement (1958)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1964 edition)

From the inside cover: “Who was Fagin? Charles Dickens would have been mighty surprised to learn that the villainous mentor he created for “Oliver Twist” had became an altogether new kind of teacher—a robot—whose nine-foot pupils, each weighing possibly a ton, were busy learning how to cope with the peculiarities of their native planet Tenebra.  Tenebra included, among other things, a 370 F temperature, eight hundred atmospheres of pressures, “air” consisting of water heavily laced with oxygen and oxide of sulphur, and a constantly shifting crust.  Fagin was a good teacher, but he was not built to cope with the life and death problem of two young creatures, one human, one extra-terrestrial, who managed to catapult themselves into this enormously difficult environment.  In fact, the rescue, if any, was up to his clumsy and primitive pupils, who didn’t even have any means of communication with the occupants of the helpless little flitter being drawn into the inexorably powerful gravity of Tenebra.”

4. The Disappearance, Philip Wylie (1951)

(Uncredited cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “The female of the species vanished on the afternoon of the second Tuesday of February at four minutes and fifty-two seconds past four o’clock Eastern Standard Time.  One minute it was the world as we know it.  In the next, the women disappeared from the men, and the men from the women.  Suddenly it became two worlds—one male, one female, each as before, except that there was no opposite sex!

In parallel stories, Philip Wylie, famous author of GENERATION OF VIPERS and OPUS 21, tells what happened to governments and towns, to housewives and bums, to lovers and philosophers.  To sex and science and sin and religion.  And, especially, what happened to love.  THE DISAPPEARANCE may be read as adventure, allegory, science fiction, or romance.  It may arouse shock, surprise, amusement, or anger.  But it cannot fail to fascinate and stimulate.  For this famous novel forces you to ask: “What would I do if this happened to me?”

12 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Wolfe + Clement + Mann + Wylie)

  1. Not a huge fan of Clement (not that into Hard SF) but that cover is stellar. Wolfe is a winner. I’ve actually got a pair of Philip Wylie novels next up on my reading list, so I’ll let you know how those go. Cover for that one is nice too, very much of its time.

    • If I had known the Clement was signed I would have purchased it in an instant. Because I did not I contemplated putting it back on the shelf. As we discussed on twitter, I’m no fan of Clement either. And also, what a lousy Lehr cover! He produced so much better.

      I have the sequel to When Worlds Collide by Wylie. I’ve seen the film When Worlds Collide — but, I find it hard to stomach 50s SF films other than Forbidden Planet (a masterpiece) and a handful of others.

      • You don’t like that cover?! I’ll take it 😛 I think I had some worse ones by far in my art post last month. Scan looks pretty grainy though.

        Most of those old films are drek, they’re all just glorified kiddie flicks that rehash the same plots and contrivances. I still watch them now and again, but I prefer the MST3k versions…

  2. The Wolfe cover is not nearly as nice as the one for the Arrow edition by Bruce Pennington.It’s evocative of the book within,which I think is one of the all-time best,being subtle,elegant and haunting.

    By the way,I read “Beyond Apollo” by Barry Malzberg,but what I thought of it,wasn’t very favourable.I have reviews of it on Amazon and Goodreads.Sorry.

    • Malzberg is an acquired taste. Hopefully I made that clear in my reviews of his work. I understand why people find him off-putting.

      As for the Wolfe—not a mind blowing cover, for sure.

  3. Ok.I should think that he has written better books.What one would you recommend next ? I strongly think though,that as an author,Philip K.Dick or J.G.Ballard he is surely not.

    No,the Wolfe cover is certainly not,and assume that’s the first edition.It’s very misleading.

    • It’s not the first edition. I listed its publication date below the image (1981).

      I think that if you didn’t like Beyond Apollo then you won’t enjoy Malzberg. But, The Gamesman and Guernica Night are brilliant as well.

  4. The Fifth Head of Cerebrus is fantastic (the book that is, not the cover). It’s probably Wolfe’s most experimental work. Lots of great writing and things to think about. I’d be surprised if you didn’t really enjoy it.

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