Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)

A person with the initials K.W.G ditched their entire SF collection at my local Half Price Books.  So many books that the store made a new SF anthology section that did not exist a few months ago and the “vintage” SF books made up more than half the non-vintage SF section.  I spent too much money.  One of many future SF Acquisitions posts featuring books from the mysterious K. W. G….

A famous anthology important for showcasing UK authors in America!  I’ve included the lengthy description of the collection by Ace and their position vis-à-vis New Wave SF.  I find it humorous that the publisher has to defend their position!

An often praised 1950s post-apocalyptical novel by Wilson Tucker….  My 1969 edition was “rewritten” by the author–unfortunately, I have already started reading it (not sure how much it will tell me about  its position in 1950s SF if it were rewritten in the 60s).  Perhaps someone knows how much was changed?  Admiral Ironbombs wrote a worthwhile review here.

Fred Saberhagen’s best known work.

And one of the few Frank Herbert novels I have not read…

Thoughts and comments are always welcome.

1. England Swings SF: Stories of Speculative Fiction, ed. Judith Merril (1968)


(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the inside page: “The most stimulating challenge that has come to science fiction writers recently has been the question of whether it is time for a change.  The advocates of what is called the New Wave say yes.  They insist that the “old” science fiction belongs in the past, is stereotyped, and no longer represents the whirl of modern times, the revolution of new thinking and the mind-tingling innovations that seem to be prevalent in all the arts these days.

The New Wave in SF—they prefer to call it Speculative Fiction—has its roots among the imaginative writers of England, most specifically around the magazine New Worlds, and a great deal has been coming from that source that is indeed different and surprising.    Judith Merril, an acknowledged authority on science fiction, has made herself the foremost American defender of the New Wave, and in this book ENGLAND SWINGS SF she has produced an anthology and a running, sparkling dialogue between its contributors and its editor on what they are doing in SF in England and why they are doing it.

Are the New Wave advocates correct?  Is it indeed time for new forms and new approaches to imaginative speculative fiction?  Has science fiction as we have known it really become moribund?

Here is the book which may be the turning point of that New Wave.  Ace Books presents it because it is a work, a manifesto perhaps in the form of a group of most unusual SF stories, which everyone interested in science fiction ought to read.  It will be a stimulating experience, whether you agree with Miss Merril or not.

Ace Books, long the foremost publisher of science fiction in America, does not take any stand on this controversy.  We have published and will continue to publish the best obtainable in all types of writing, from space-action adventures to the award-winning Specials, from the old “classics” to the best of the new collections of short stories.  We reprint ENGLAND SWINGS SF not because we are in agreement of in disagreement with it, but because we thing it is part of Ace’s traditional service to science fiction.

Two quotes may be apropos.  Josephine Saxton says, inside the book, “British writers are in the vanguard–one thing they do is make much American S.F. look old-fashioned.”

Isaac Asimov said, outside the book, “I hope that when the New Wave has deposited its froth and receded, the vast and solid shore of science fiction will appear once more.”

Decide for yourself.


2. Berserker, Fred Saberhagen (1967)


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “The Carmpan were an old race, infinitely older than man.  Withdrawn, peaceful, tolerant, they watched the hunger for violence in humans with quiet regret–until the day came when all their skills in peace, their reasoned logic, their subtlety, their patience, were overwhelmed by a killer against whom they were useless.

Because the killer was not alive.

The killer was a machine–planetsized, automatic and invulnerable.

And murderous.

At last man had a use…”

3. The Heaven Makers, Frank Herbert (serialized 1967)


(Darrell Sweet’s cover for the 1977 edition)


Strange aliens had invaded Earth thousands of years ago.  They were eternal beings who made full sensory movies of wars, of natural disasters–and of the most macabre human horrors–to relive their endless boredom.

And the, when they finally became jaded by ordinary, run-of-the-mill tragedies, they found new ways of creating their own disasters… just for kicks.

But interfering with Earth’s natives was strictly against regulations, and the authorities occasionally did check into these matters.  However, by the time Investigator Kelezel arrived on the scene, the trouble had been going on for a long, long time–and things were getting worse.”

4. The Long Loud Silence, Wilson Tucker (1952) (MY REVIEW)

The Long Loud Silence (revised) (1969)

(Uncredited cover for the 1969 edition)

From the back cover: “TOMORROW’S WAR…

…the war that could not be.  The army of the United States was stationed along the length of the Mississippi River, guns pointed east… with orders to shoot anyone attempting to cross.

For the Final War was not a war of the ultimate bomb, of atomic hell.  It was a war of the tiny germ, the filterable virus, the disease that came to conquer a nation… and stayed to damn a world…”

19 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)

  1. The Heaven Makers is forgettable – I can’t even remember it! Most of the non-Dune books, while not being remotely comparable to the saga, I still have fond or vivid memories of even after twenty years. Herbert was very formative for me as a reader.

  2. “Are the New Wave advocates correct? Is it indeed time for new forms and new approaches to imaginative speculative fiction? Has science fiction as we have known it really become moribund?”
    Blueprint for a cyclical complaint?

    • Unfortunately Asimov’s quote seems to be what panned out…. The New Wave “deposited its froth and receded.” Of course, he’s all panicky because he thinks of himself as “the vast and solid shore of science fiction.” One more strike against Asimov in my book — haha.

      • Ah the old new wave, how I loved you…
        You should check out some of Asimov’s attempts at self-deprecating humour and commentary in his short intros to the Great SF [Short] Stories collection (a great collection by the way). Or any of his intros. When he sticks to the bald facts he is good, not to mention some interesting tidbits on other authors and fandom. However he often bangs on about the big three (himself included, of course). As the years roll by I find of the three only Clarke remains of interest, and mostly because i loved his work as a teen.

  3. Hi

    Sounds like you really lucked out. I so rarely see anthologies in the used book stores anymore, which is sad, as I often prefer short stories, even over the novels they often inspire. I have not read all the stories in England Swings, but one I really liked was Barrington J. Bayley’s All the King’s Men. It really made me think about alien human interactions, what we can understand etc. The other books are all on my to read list and I love the Berserker cover. I have decided to go through Herbert’s non-Dune SF, some of which I will be rereading and some that I have not read before. I really liked the The Dosadi Experiment and I just read the novella The Tactful Saboteur, which introduced his ConSentient Universe, I will have to reread Whipping Star which I found a bit odd the first time thru.

    I really appreciate the effort you are expending here, it really encourages me to keep reading, collecting and thinking about SF.

    All the best

    • Guy, thank you for your kind words. I wish I had more time to put reviews together!

      At one point I read quite a few of Bayley’s novels but have not yet explored his short fiction. I look forward to reading “All the King’s Men”.

      I almost always find Herbert readable and though-provoking, even at his baldest (Whipping Star for example). The only Herbert SF from the 60s/70s that I actively dislike is The Green Brain…

  4. Hi Joachim

    I have to admit that after seeing the quotes on your website I read Bayley’s The Pillars of Eternity and Hoban’s The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz. Hopefully I can get my thoughts together and post something on them in the next couple of weeks.

    Happy Reading

  5. Hi Joachim

    I really enjoyed both books. Aside from Riddley Walker, which because of the nature of the story, is probably not typical of Hoban’s work I had not read anything by him. The prose in The Lion was just beautiful and given what is happening now the subplot on immigration was really interesting.


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