Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXII (Vance + Rucker + Kaye + Godwin + Orbit Anthology)

More SF joins the ranks that cover my shelves, from a Jack Vance Demon Princes sequence novel to a promising Orbit anthology with early Vernor Vinge, Carol Emshwiller, Harlan Ellison, etc.

And the covers!  Powers and Lehr at their best…

And what happened to SF art the 80s? (the Rudy Rucker novel cover terrifies — in a bad way).

As always, thoughts/comments are appreciated!

1.The Palace of Love, Jack Vance (serialized 1966)


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “Kirth Gersen had dedicated his life to revenge–to killing, one by one, each of the five Demon Princes who had murdered his parents in the historic Mount Pleasant Massacre.

Two Demon Princes were dead, three were left.

Wealthy and unrelenting, Gersen spares no expense as he journeys from the sinister planet of the poison-masters to the slave city of Sabra to learn the whereabouts of his quarry… Viole Falushe.

Braving one hair-raising obstacle after another, Gersen tracks down the elusive Falushe at the strange please temple known as the Palace of Love, where at last their deadly confrontation takes place…”

2. Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight (1968) (MY REVIEW)


(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)

From the back cover: “In ‘Windsong’ Kate Wilhelm paints a disturbing picture of symbiosis between computers and human beings. ‘Probably cause,’ by Charles L. Harness, depicts a presidential assassin brought to trial on evidence given by a clairvoyant.  And in ‘One At a Time,’ R. A. Lafferty offers a way of stretching out a man’s life-span to hundreds of years.

Also included are stories by Harlan Ellison, Jacob Transure, Carol Emshwiller, James Sallis, Robert Silverberg and Vernor Vinge.”

3. The Masters of Solitude, Parke Godwin and Marvin Kaye (serialized 1977)


(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition)


The Plague was once again upon the people of the Forest–a pagan world of sensuous goys governed by the covens, tribes of hunters and magicians.  They were separated by ancient rites and bloody clashes, but the ravages of this unstoppable death united them in a quest for the cure.


It was a megalopolis hundreds of miles long, purged of passion, guided by technology, and guarded by the Self-Gate–an electronic mirror that shredded minds.  Their medicine was the cure, by eons of silence separated the City and the Forest.  Except once, a woman…


Only once in history had a dweller left the City–a woman in search of a legendary weapon.  Now her son–wanderer, seer, madman–wielded the magic of his mind and the awesome weapon to soar beyond the blood fields of combat to wage the final war–a solitary warrior against civilization.”

4. Software, Rudy Rucker (1982)


(Joe DeVito’s cover for the 1987 edition)

From the back cover: “THE LAST GASP OF THE BABY BOOMERS. It’s 2020 and the entire state of Florida has been turned over to millions of pheezers (freaky geezers), who are mostly content staying stoned on geriatric acid, grooving on old tunes and saving up for artificial organs.

But one pheezer still has big ideas.  Cobb Anderson has just been contacted by the rebellious bopper robots he fathered and helped to free back in the 20th century.  They made him an offer he can’t refuse–the ultimate high–immortality!”


21 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXII (Vance + Rucker + Kaye + Godwin + Orbit Anthology)

  1. Powers and Lehr!Who did the best of the above two covers?

    I’ve always meant to read “Rudy Ruckter,particularly his novel “Software”.He was part of the same movement as Gibson and Sterling.

      • I remember you saying Powers was your favourite,but your quite right.Their art remains a powerful force in the field.

        Yes,I know a bit about Cyberpunk,but that’s all!I think if I read his novel,I’d know quite a bit more.I think he might be better than both Gibson and Sterling.

          • I’m just speculating,I didn’t say I was sure.I just like the sound of his stuff…..it strikes me as distinctive and unusual.

            No,I haven’t read much Sterling or Gibson,but I preferred Sterling’s novel,even if I wasn’t overawed by it.If I ever read hm again,it might be best to go for his shorter stuff,I don’t know

      • I guess I try to reserve judgement until I have read a few novels or multiple short stories from a particular author… For example, I’ve read most of Gibson’s pre-2000 SF novels — Neuromancer (yes, I remember what you said about it!), Mona Lisa Smile, Burning Chrome (collection of stories), Idoru, Count Zero, Virtual Light, and The Difference Engine (which he wrote with Sterling).

        I was definitely a huge fan a decade ago.

        I even watched the very average SF mini-series Wild Palms (1993) as it had a William Gibson cameo! I talked to him about the show on twitter, he was quite disappointed with it.


        • Yes well,I wasn’t all that impressed by “Neuromancer” to want to pursue his stuff,even if I was wrong.Sterling’s “The Artificial Kid” made enough impact upon me to consider reading more by him,and I did consider “Schismatrix”,but I never came across it,and I never thought about reading his shorter stuff.I usually know at a very early stage whether I’m going to be or am going to be keen on an author.

          Yes,we all have early favourite authors,of whose books we devoured.Philip J. Farmer for one.

  2. Hi

    I love the Orbit cover, I purchased some of The Best SF Stories From New Worlds with Lehr covers recently and the more I see of his work the more I rank him right there with Powers among my favourite paperback cover artists. As you say they are both very good, they are quite different they each have very distinctive styles, and for me they really capture the type of visuals I associate with and enjoy on SF of this period.

    Happy Reading

    • Lehr covers with large faces are his weakest entries — but on the whole, this Orbit included, he’s fantastic! And, Orbit did it right, up to number 14 (1974) only 2 (Orbit 1 was in paperback and Orbit 2 had a bland cover) did not have Lehr’s art on the 1st edition hardback. Later Orbit anthos tended to have bland hardback 1st editions.


  3. Wow, Rucker! If one is looking at cyberpunk as an aesthetic, then Software is far from cyberpunk. Thematically, a case can be made. But I would say categorizing it as anything but wacky, humorous, intelligent sf unlike anything else on Earth, would be a mistake. This is not to say it’s the greatest work of sf ever, only that Software (perhaps all of Rucker’s oeuvre?) is highly unique, and as such something that is not precisely for the science fiction connoisseur, rather the band of sf readers who can appreciate what Rucker is doing. What comprises that band? Well, you must have a basic knowledge of the history of science fiction. You must not be expecting anything predictable or common in terms of story or presentation. You must not be expecting any strict interpretations of the “rules of science”. And most importantly, you must have a quirky sense of humor. (I highly recommend tuning your inner voice to a nasal lilt when reading. It gives the story an added sense of fun.)

    • Perhaps we have a dominate notion of what “cyberpunk” is due to equating Gibson’s man vs. corporation etc as the norm when in reality the origins are rather more heterodox. Rucker, in the various articles I have read (SF encyclopedia for example), is definitely considered a progenitor of the subgenre along with Sterling…

      • There’s been a lot of words written about whether or not cyberpunk is just an aesthetic. Certainly the predominant opinion is based on a Gibson-esque stereotype, but for sure there is more going on. Case in point Sterling’s MIrrorshades anthology. I’ve read numerous negative reviews because many of the stories are not mini-Neuromancers. Seems they missed Sterling’s intro…

  4. Rucker was being published before cyberpunk happened – Spacetime Donuts is still my favourite! – but he was definitely included in the first wave of CP with Software. He co-wrote several short stories with other authors, especially Bruce Sterling.
    As it firmed up in a Gibson/Sterling mode however, Rucker’s brand continued on it’s own course, distancing itself as time went on and his novels got stranger. Well, they started off pretty strange, so maybe that’s not quite right!

    The Palace of Love is the 3rd in Vance’s Demon Prince series, longer and more filled out than the first two, but the last he wrote for over a decade until his DAW contract years later and the final two, which are usually considered the best of the set. But PoL is very good, with some bizarre goings-on at the Palace of Love itself. I’ve not re-read it very recently but, writing this and thinking about it, maybe I will.

    • As was Sterling, published before cyberpunk happened (you might have seen my Involution Ocean review)…

      I look forward to reading Rucker. Although at one point I did read post-1980s SF with more drive, I never got around to his work.

      As for Vance, you know what I think about Vance. I do love the Powers cover!

  5. Yes, I saw your review but didn’t have anything to add to the other comments.
    I’ve thought about reading it a couple of times but my memory of copies languishing unsold for what seemed like months at a time discourages me, I’m afraid.
    As for Rucker, dive in and just go with it!

    • Ah, you have memories of unsold Involution Ocean copies (first edition or later ones)? haha, I think Ellison’s comments about the cover are hilarious in that light — he essentially rants for a few pages on how amazing the art is and how everyone will want one (in as many words), blows my mind as I find the man in the water cover complete drivel…. And something I’d read in private only. hah.

  6. It would have been the Tim White cover for NEL initially, but I don’t think the later Legend edition did that well for us. If I did see the first cover (and I probably did) I’ve completely forgotten it, as it looks like the sort of thing ignore almost automatically!
    His edited anthology Mirrorshades was absolutely huge, though!

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