Powell’s Books in Portland, OR dethrones Dawn Treader Book Shop in Ann Arbor, MI as the best SF collection I have ever encountered in a used bookstore (and remember, fewer and fewer books interest me as I collect more and more—if you did not already have a collection you’d be out hundreds of dollars!).
I need to read more of Leiber’s work as I adored The Big Time (1958) and his short story collection A Pail of Air (1964).
Tom Reamy died too young—right after publishing his masterpiece Blind Voices (received Hugo and Nebula nods in 1979 and second place in Locus voting).
New author: Barbara Paul. Read anything by her?
1. Gather, Darkness!, Fritz Leiber (1950)
(Robert Foster’s (?) cover for the 1969 edition)
From the back cover: “The Sizzling Second Atomic Age. The scientists have seized control of the word and the minds of men. Fear is the new religion and thinking is the first sin. All humanity is gripped in a seething atmosphere of deadly dictators, perverse priests, wandering warlocks and supernatural scientists. The rule of slavery prevails. Then the Witches’ Revolt plunges the Second Civilization into a mad struggle for survival that is at once terribly tragic and wildly comic. Now it it up to Jarles—the fumbling renegade priests—to invoke the eerie power that will stagger the balance of an entire planet…”
2. Blind Voices, Tom Reamy (1978) (MY REVIEW)
(David Plourde’s cover for the 1978 edition)
From the inside flap: “‘It was a time of pause, a time between planting and harvest when the air was heavy, humming with its own slow warm music.’ So begins an extraordinary fantasy of the rural Midwest by a recent winner of the John W. Camobell, Jr., Award for best young science fiction writer.
One summer day in the 1920s, Haverstock’s Traveling Curiosus and Wondershow rides into a small Midwestern town. Haverstock’s show is a presentation of mysterious wonders: feats of magic, strange creatures, and frightening powers. Three teenage girls attend the opening performance that evening which, for each, promises love and threatens death. The three girls are drawn to the show and its performers—a lusty centaur, Angel the magical albino boy, the rowdy stage hands—but frightened by the enigmatic owner, Haverstock. The girls first try to dismiss these marvels as trickery, but it becomes all too real, too vivid to be other than nightmare reality.
Each feels the force of the show and its power to alter everyday lives: Francine is drawn embarrassingly to the centaur, Rose makes an assignation with one of the hands and gets in trouble, and Evelyn is fascinated by the pathetic, mysterious Angel, The Boy Who Can Fly, and together they plan escape. No stranger of more disturbing vision of the dark side of carnival life has been handled with such grace or conviction since Bradbury’s vintage period. With a poet’s mastery of language Reamy brings his circus of characters to a startling, fantastic conclusion.”
3. An Exercise for Madmen, Barbara Paul (1978) (MY REVIEW)
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1978 edition)
From the back cover: “FIRST CONTACT: Pythia, Planet of scientists. Where a synthetic society of technicians and their proto-human creations were quarantined, light-years away from Earth and her colonies. It was here that the Alien landed, and the shattering first contact was made…”
4. Best SF Stories from New Worlds 5, ed. Michael Moorcock (1969)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)
From the back cover: “NEW WORLDS MAGAZINE, publishing Now stories for Now people, dealing with a world of When. Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds is acknowledged as the most dynamic SF magazine in the world today, controversy-stirring and award-winning. From the finest contemporary SF writing comes stories (and a poem) by Norman Ballard, J.G. Ballard, Roger Zelazny and Danny Plachta, D.M. Thomas, Graham M. Hall, Brian W. Aldiss, Peter Tate, Langdon Jones, Christopher Finch, Giles Gordon, Charles Platt.