Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVII (Smith + Harrison + French SF Anthology + New Writings in SF Anthology)


Including a Richard Powers’ cover that might be among my favorites as it has a delightful architectural feel…. Do you have a favorite Powers?

I must fill the hole that is my lack of knowledge about Cordwainer Smith.  A source of many arguments!

Rachel S. Cordasco recently reviewed three stories by French women SF authors pre-1969 and I decided to track down the same collection.  And yes, the back cover is filled with purple prose… Plus hilarious back cover font which I will feature in a SF cover art post in the near future.

And another John Carnell anthology in his New Writings in SF series.  I featured the artist a few months ago here.

All the covers are scans of my own copies — if you click on the images you can see them in high resolution.


1. Bill, The Galactic Hero, Harry Harrison (1964)harrison-bill-the-galactic-hero

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)

From the back cover: “He was just plain Bill, a Technical Fertilizer Operator down on the farm, until a recruiting robot shanghaied him into the Empire Space Corps.  Assigned to the spaceship Christine Jeeler in the war against the lizard-like Chingers, Bill wasn’t much of a soldier, but an act of accidental heroism won him the Purple Dart and a trip to Helior, the aluminum-covered central planet of the Empire.  And then Bill’s adventures really started.

From his loss of a Helior floor plan (a major criminal offense) and his search for sanctuary in the department of garbage management in Helio’s underground, to his exile and final redemption, Bill’s tale is a perfect change-of-pace for anyone who likes the best in modern science fiction.”

2. The Best of Cordwainer Smith, Cordwainer Smith (1975)


(Darrell Sweet’s cover for the 1975 edition)


A thousand planets acknowledged one power—the Instrumentality of Mankind.  But the Underpeople—created by the Overlords to be their servants—owed fealty only to themselves…

Here in one volume are the 12 most important stories of the unique writer who fused wonder and poetry into imaginative tales that transcend both science and fiction.

SCANNERS LIVE IN VAIN. Adam stone had found the way for men to cross Deep Space alive—a discovery that might kill him!

THE LADY WHO SAILED THE SOUL. Her name was Helen America, and she voyaged out to the stars—and into a timeless legend of romance…

ALPHA RALPHA BOULEVARD. They thought it was a road to a dream that would last forever—but dreams are made to be broken!

THE BALLAD OF THE LOST C’MELL. Never was there a girl quite like C’mell.  She was not even a human being—but she was all woman!

A PLANET NAMED SHAYOL. Hell itself is not much to fear—if the people in it are good to each other

—and 7 more stunning stories… by a man who dreamed the future.”

3. 13 French Science-Fiction Stories, ed. Damon Knight (1965)


(Louis S. Glanzman’s cover for the 1965 edition)


An incredible feast of the bizarre and supernatural from the land of Zola and Maupassant.

WANT A PERFECT MISTRESS? Gentle, understand and unbelievably amorous. You can buy her at your local automobile dealers—if you dare! WANT TO BE REBORN in one of the great ages of the past, with a young, beautiful wife? Just watch out! There must be a catch somewhere! SICK OF MERE WOMEN? Here’s a whole planet! …Lush, verdant fields, lilting voice like wind in the trees. Just treat her gently! She doesn’t like to be scorned!”


4. New Writings in S-F 6, ed. John Carnell (1965)


(David McCall Johnston’s cover for the 1971 edition)


Includes stories by Keith Roberts, William Spencer, Robert Presslie, John Bazter, E.C. Tubb, Ernest Hill, and John Rackham.

21 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVII (Smith + Harrison + French SF Anthology + New Writings in SF Anthology)

    • Thanks for the comment! What I’ve read so far has been unimpressive — the stories in Space Lords (1968) (did not review it). I found “Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons” (1961) for example unreadable…

      But, I try not to judge an author on only a handful of stories so I will give him another chance.

  1. The Powers cover is quaint compared to his other stuff,but I suppose it suited the tone of the book.”Bill,the Galactic Hero”,is a satirical novel that is supposed to deglamorize novels like “Starship Troopers”,which was probably partly successful,but it depends on how literally you take Heinlein’s novel,but Harrison’s light homily,I found enjoyable at the time.

    I haven’t read any of Smith’s collections,but I did read his fix-up novel,which I thought was badly sown together.I have read “Scanners Live in Vain” though.He was something of a maverick in the genre.

      • Oh well,I hope you like the book then.As for Smith,I’ve only read one other piece by him,which as I remember,I thought was rather whimsical.He is supposed to be a distinct and unique voice though.

  2. I got the French antho off the back of reading a Henneberg story in F&SF (The Blind Pilot) and reckon a book of stories translated by Knight is definitely worth a look.
    I agree with GJ about Smith: at his best, a superb writer.

    • I found the back cover advertisement for the Knight collection quite humorous. I scanned it in and put it in a file for interesting uses of font. Rachel indicated in her review that the stories, or at least the ones she read, do not stoop to that level of purple prose — haha.

    • Other than a few big names which continued to produce covers into the late 70s/80s, there definitely is less and less inventiveness in SF art…. And I think Sweet is sort of emblematic of that, bland space scenes with a handful of cool images (the architectural elements of the above cover aren’t that bad) and tons of awkward figures.

  3. I liked Bil The Galactic Hero, it’s funny and fairly light. If you like it you may want to check out Star Smashers Of The Galaxy Rangers, which is another sci fi parody by Harrison. I remember reading the Smith collection–the only one that really stuck in my memory was “A Planet Called Shayol”, which was disturbing and thought-provoking.

  4. Sadly, I’m not as big a fan of Powers as you are. However, collecting Powers can be problematic. His work can be extremely sloppy to extremely good, but what’s worse though is that publishers have had a tendency to chopping up his work and pasting bits and pieces of on books as illustrations. Ever wonder what a western book cover by Powers would look like?

    I’ve generally liked Smith’s work, but I did find his classic “Scanners Live In Vain” to be paranoid cold-war, anti-unionist slop. It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose. There are a number of writers that you are enthusiastic about that I wouldn’t read, again, if you paid me.

    By-the-way, if you want obscure sf art references, go to Amazon and check out Monster Magnet’s “Dopes to Infinity” album cover (ASIN: B0186J923C) for a partial reprint of one of John Carnell’s “New Writings In SF” covers.

    • I think the chopping up the art problem isn’t restricted to Powers in anyway, I have an Orbit anthology (#4) that I am currently reading that has a very off-center, probably cropped, Lehr cover.

  5. Hi

    Interesting comments. i like Smith but many people don’t, I found his view of the future and space exploration very different and quite interesting. The Powers cover for Bill is one of my favourites, the detail and the movement are great.


  6. I read an early 70s UK collection of Smith a few years ago (if memory serves it was called ‘The Underpeople’), and found him to be brilliant/unique/trippy and messy/incoherent/over-flowery, in equal measure. He can be very hit-and-miss, but is rather an acquired taste, in some ways. Maybe one gets more used to his chaotic, hyperactive, often totally illogical narratives, conceits and style as one reads more and more of him. But, for all the stories that don’t really work, the odd sublime gem is well worth it, and every story always has memorable imagery in it, at the very least. I totally agree with Misha, above, that ‘A Planet Called Shayol’ is incredibly disturbing – it is one of the most nightmarish, hallucinatory, creepy, weird, stunning short SF/Horror stories I have ever read! Make sure to eventually read it, if nothing else by Smith….

  7. One of my favorites growing up was “The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal” which I understand is a kind of sequel to “A Planet Called Shayol”. Smith may just be one of those writers, like Malzeberg and Langdon Jones are to me, that whose fiction will never strike a chord with you. Still, as you’ve noticed, he does have some fans, even after all this time after his death.

    • I’m glad people return to some of the unique/fascinating works of the past! But yes, I definitely understand how polarizing Malzberg can be. I should point out, I only really obsessed over one story in the Jones collection and thought quite a few were average (he’s hit or miss while Malzberg is mostly hit).

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