Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Matheson + Carr + Davidson + Sheckley)

Another varied selection of recent acquisitions—the majority are gifts from Carl V. Anderson at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Thanks so much!  A signed edition of Hal Clement’s Close to Critical (1964) is coming your way!

I love Sheckley.  I’ve never read Richard Matheson’s short fiction.  Terry Carr’s short fiction is supposedly rather good (he’s primarily known as an editor of course).  And Avram Davidson is still an unknown quantity—I do adore the Leo and Diane Dillon cover.


1. Third From the Sun, Richard Matheson (1955)

(Gene Szafran’s horrid cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “Extraordinary, hair-raising science fiction that makes you believe you are there! Meet Loolie from Venus—she ads in mags for mates with like fixtures!

Move with the time traveler to a civilization where dirty post-cards are pictures of… food!

Ride on the last space ship leaving… for earth!

Fall in love with Lover—she wants to wrap her warm, pink mind around yours!

Live dangerously and adventurously with Richard Matheson who can make the unbelievable seem true.”

2. Untouched by Human Hands, Robert Sheckley (1954)

(Uncredited cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover for a different edition: “These thirteen tales, untouched even by the hands of anthologists, may remind some of you of the brightest days of ‘Unknown Worlds,’ and others of Shirley Jackson or John Collier.  Some are interplanetary, some supernatural; some chilling, some comic.  All are delightfully fresh in concept, development and writing.”

3. The Light at the End of the Universe, Terry Carr (1976)

(Mike Presley’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “After 13 years as the most popular editor in SF, the incredible talent of Terry Carr is ‘Discovered.”  He has been called the editor with impeccable taste, the man who knows which stories will be Hugo and Nebula award winners months before he puts them in his justly-famous BEST SF OF THE YEAR series.  But the shadow-life of Terry Carr is a side of him the millions of readers of his collections seem unaware exists.  He is the creator of new universes, new worlds that rival the finest creations he has anthologized.  He is a fantasist of the first rank.  Now, at last, Carr emerges from the closet with his first book of stories; fifteen magicks of the mind that comprise, quite simply, one of the best books of SF and fantasy you will be ever privileged to read.”

4.  The Phoenix and the Mirror, Avram Davidson (1969)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition)

From the inside flap: “Against the backdrop of a hauntingly familiar yet unpredictable otherworld, Avram Davidson casts the adventures of the sorcerer known as Vergil Magus: Vergil’s first goal was to construct a mirror that had never before reflected a human face.  It was an almost impossible task, but when it was finally completed the face that appeared on the mirror’s surface was that of Princess Laura of Carsus, and Vergil fell in love with her beautiful reflection.  But to find and win the Princess herself, Vergil had to undertake a long and hazardous journey… and at the end of it he would meet the demon power of the Phoenix itself.”

24 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Matheson + Carr + Davidson + Sheckley)

  1. Great stuff. Davidson is one of those authors I’ve thought you might like, depending on how his… unique style suits you. Lots of allusion, very verbose… less “writing” and more “word paintings.” I’m pretty sure that one was fantasy, but one of his better novels. Eager to hear what you think.

    The Sheckley and Matheson collections are pretty solid—at least what I’ve read from them. Matheson’s has some supernatural stuff but also several that became great Twilight Zone episodes. Hard to go wrong with either author. I like Carr as an editor, but his is the one book in this post I don’t own!

  2. Good score on the ACE SF Special! I was collecting these at one time.

    I read Clash of Star-Kings and felt like I had read a ‘non-book’ – just felt like nothing happened. Davidson’s wikipedia description describes that as his actual style of writing. Maybe that works better for his short-stories. I may have Or All the Seas with Oysters in its original Berkley Books edition.

    • Yes, I love the Dillon covers!

      I don’t think that Clash of Star-Kings is one of his more “mature” attempts but rather simplistic pulp for some easy cash. I more look forward to his short fiction. I have his collection Strange Seas and Shores on the shelf.

    • I’ve read quite a few of his collections before. Citizen in Space (1955), The People Trap (1968), and Store of Infinity (1960) — they’ve all been solid. Untouched by Human Hands is his most famous (and first collection). It should be good!

      • The only one of his collections I’ve read,is “The Wonderful World of Robert Sheckley”,the Bantam edition.I’ve read four of his novels.

        He was,like Philip K.Dick and J.G.Ballard,a unique individual,who wrote his own fiction,peculiar to him,without worrying about the solid conventions within the sf genre.

    • Haha, that struck me as odd as well — had to think about it a second! But yes, very 50s… Despite the silly cover blurbs I hope the story isn’t as ridiculous as they make it out to be.

  3. I have the same version of Third From The Sun in my Matheson collection. Although I’ve enjoyed the short stories it was his novel Hell House that really stuck with me. It is probably the scariest book I’ve ever read (in the genre of horror fiction). I picked up the same Carr a while back simply because of the Harlan Ellison link and was not disappointed. A Carr edited collection, An Exaltation of Stars, is in my TBR stack along with a Sheckley novel, Crompton Divided.

  4. I’m not much of a fantasy writer, but I liked The Phoenix and the Dragon a lot. And you have Carr’s classic “The Dance of the Changer and Three” to look forward to.

  5. I love Davidson’s stories (although I can’t remember the one from Orbit 8) I’m not a big fan of his novels, the one exception being The Phoenix and the Mirror. However it is a fantasy so that may preclude you from enjoying it. Unfortunately, its sequels Virgil in Averno and The Scarlet Fig are nearly impenetrable.

    BTW, if you’re getting into original anthologies then the Orbit series is probably the best way to go. The first few volumes in Terry Carr’s Universe series was also pretty good. I think Siverberg’s Good News From the Vatican showed up in Universe 2 or 3.

    • I have Universe 3 — it was in a recent acquisitions post. It’s the one with Good News.

      “Preclude me from enjoying it”? Although I do not often review fantasy it was actually what got me into SF. I have nothing against fantasy as long as its not some Tolkein clone… I certainly don’t like all fantasy.

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