Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXV (Leiber + Haiblum + Scholz and Harcourt + Orbit Anthology)

Recently reminded of Fritz Leiber’s beautiful story “A Pail of Air” (1951) which I reviewed a few years ago in the eponymous collection, I was delighted to come across another one of his short story collections.  Thankfully, no Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories are in sight.  And of course, another Richard Powers cover…

On twitter I mentioned my ignorance regarding the work of Isidore Haiblum, the author of the “the first Yiddish SF novel” according to the blurb on The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders (1971).  I have not come across a copy of that particular novel yet, but, another even lesser known quantity joins the books arrayed in piles across my library.

My dalliance with the 1980s continues in fits and starts: I wrote a short review of Christopher Priest’s masterpiece The Affirmation (1981) and recently reviewed Terry Carr’s edited volume Universe 10 (1980)…  As Carter Scholz’s short story “The Johann Sebastian Bach Memorial Barbecue and Nervous Breakdown” (1980) made such a positive impression on me, I decided to find a copy of his collaborative novel.

And I love Damon Knight’s Orbit series of original anthologies.  For reviews: Orbit 1 (1966), Orbit 3 (1968), and Orbit 8 (1970).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Fritz Leiber, The Night of the Wolf (1966)


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition) 

From the back cover: “FRITZ LEIBER–twice winner of the Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year Award (Hugo: THE BIG TIME, 1958; THE WANDERER, 1964) has been quietly winnowing away at militarism for a number of years.

The four novellas which comprise THE NIGHT OF THE WOLF are an ironic encouragement to the pease of the world And being by Leiber, they are also witty, gripping, entertaining and other adjectives too numerous to mention.

If you want to feel a little saner, read Leiber.”

Contents: “The Lone Wolf” (1962) (variant of The Creature from Cleveland Depths); “The Wolf Pair” (1960) (variant of The Night of the Long Knives); “Crazy Wolf” (1944) (variant of Sanity); “The Wolf Pack” (1950) (variant of Let Freedom Ring).

2. Transfer to Yesterday, Isidore Hailblum (1973)


(Bob Abbett’s cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “The world was a kaleidescope of warring factions—even the colored towers of the magnificent city reflected the internecine warfare—League Gold, Federation Blue, Alliance Green, Coalition Brown, Corporation Silver, and a dozen more.

In his sane moments James N. Norton knew he was an ex-Professor of League History and had a long since given up all affiliations.  This made him a Heretic.  Which meant that everybody felt free to hate him.  Even to hunt him…

Yet he knew that he had a mission, and in this world, and that he couldn’t quit.  No more could he sort out who, or really what, he might be.  Or when.”

3. Palimpsests, Carter Scholz and Gelnn Harcourt (1984)


(Attila Hejja’s cover for the 1984 edition)

From the back cover: “Palimpsests: Traces of ancient writing that can be seen underneath the latest overwriting on old parchments.

Palimpsests enable humankind to see the past through the present.  What if they could also predict the future?”

Barry N. Malzberg’s blurb about the book: “Carter Scholz’s short stories, which have been appearing since 1977, have convinced me that he is the best writer ever to do a body of work within genre science fiction; and his first novel, collaborative or otherwise, has to be a significant event.”

4. Orbit 2, ed. Damon Knight (1967)


(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “In this second volume of the ORBIT series, Damon Knight has again put together a brilliant collection of new SF writing, never before published in paperback, by the very best of today’s SF writers.

Prize-winning author Richard McKenna tells the story of eight men who, dying of thirst in an open boat, find a way to break through into another world; Kate Wilhelm writes of a most unusual sex queen of the future; and R. A. Lafferty contributes a zany story about a man who an duplicate himself, much to the confusion and delight of his wife.

Also included are stories by Brian W. Aldiss, Philip Katham, Gene Wolfe, Joanna Russ, and Kit Reed.”

Contents: “The Doctor” (1967), Theodore L. Thomas; “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967), Kate Wilhelm; “Fiddler’s Green” (1967), Richard McKenna; “Trip, Trap” (1967), Gene Wolfe; “The Dimple in Draco” (1967), R. S. Richardson [as by Philip Latham]; “I Gave Her Sack and Sherry” (1967), Joanna Russ; “The Adventuress” (1967), Joanna Russ; “The Hole on the Corner” (1967), R. A. Lafferty; “The Food Farm” (1967), Kit Reed; “Full Sun” (1967), Brian W. Aldiss.

17 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXV (Leiber + Haiblum + Scholz and Harcourt + Orbit Anthology)

  1. I bought the Carter Scholz & Glen Harcourt novel when it first came out – I bought all the new Ace Specials that came out then and still have most of them – but I’m not sure I ever finished this one at the time. I’ve since made a couple of half-hearted attempts to read it but always been distracted by something shinier!
    I did read his novella Gypsy recently and was very impressed https://www.flickr.com/photos/17270214@N05/23017452221

    • Although Malzberg’s words — “Carter Scholz’s short stories, which have been appearing since 1977, have convinced me that he is the best writer ever to do a body of work within genre science fiction; and his first novel, collaborative or otherwise, has to be a significant event” — verge on the hyperbolic, what I’ve read and what people have commented on twitter and my site do imply that his short fiction is excellent…

      As for the novel, the reaction is mixed. Which, I must confess, is one reason I want to give it a shot. Reactions to Malzberg tend to always be mixed and I adore his work.

      (and the cover is BLAND, yuck)

      • I think the decline began by the mid-1970s. Ballantine had been the most daring of the paperback SF publishers, using artists like Robert Foster, Philip Kirkland, Mati Klarwein, Stephen Miller, Richard M. Powers, and Jacques Wyrs (some of these old artists are best known today for their surreal album covers). With the sale of the company to Random House in 1973, the art direction changed, and covers by straightforward illustrators like Darrell K. Sweet and Michael Whelan became the norm. Ballantine’s post-1973 covers could be very nice, but the thrill was gone. Something similar happened at Doubleday (and the SFBC). Their stable of exceptional graphic artists was replaced by amateur fan artists – or so it often appeared. (I really appreciate your recent interview with Emanuel Schongut). Fortunately, paperback cover-art stars like Paul Lehr weren’t destroyed by the decline in taste, but continued to produce better and better work away from the publishing houses: http://visualmelt.com/Paul-Lehr Imagine the sort of covers we COULD have seen in the 1980s.

      • I looked at Jacques Wyrs’ art… I had seen them before but I never checked the artist. Thanks! I enjoy them quite a lot.

        O Whelan and Sweet, somewhat competent but definitely of the spaceship and aliens school of art….

    • Hated every story? Hm….

      I don’t know what to say to that other than you must like different SF than me, and, you’re missing out on a great anthology series with some of the best SF of the period from a vast range of brilliant authors.

        • Gene Wolfe, George Alec Effinger, Kate Wilhelm, and Gardner Dozois rank among my favorites…. (all in Orbit 10)

          Perhaps our interest in the genre is radically different. And that’s fine.

          • Yep, those authors don’t do a thing for me 🙂

            And I suspect our interest IS very different. Which is rather interesting if you think about it. Just goes to show that SFF isn’t a monolithic “genre” but a label.

      • Not sure this has to do with any question of “genre” but rather your personal preferences… Which always vary!

        But yes. Key terms for me: experimental, literary, inventive, social themes, philosophy, memory.

  2. Hi

    I like three of the four covers. The Ace Special, yes they were all pretty dreary. My favourite has to be the Lehr for Orbit I love the googly eye. And the contents look very good, I have heard great things about the Wilhelm I see you gave it a 5/5, I will have to give it a try today.

    Happy Reading

    • “Baby, You Were Great!” (1967) is one of my favorite Wilhem short stories. I am going to provide a review (along with a few more by other authors) for a guest post series I’m putting together… Will be announced soon!

  3. Nice catch on the Leiber collection. I’ve looked in the local stores for it. Once I’ve consumed the Leiber I already have, I’ll have to take a look for it online. I agree about Fafhrd and Grey Mouser — still don’t do anything for me and, unfortunately, they were the first Leiber I encountered.

    When I finally actually get my look at Kathe Koja’s short fiction done, it will include some collaborations with Malzberg and, this August, she did a collaboration with Scholz.

    • At one point I was obsessed with fantasy, “all the Tolkein clones please!” — I’ve moved away from that obsession. I’ve only read a few of the stories in the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser sequence and, to steal your words, they “don’t do anything for me.”

Comment! Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.