1) Lafferty collections are notoriously hard to find and tend to be on the expensive side—at least for 60s/70s paperbacks. I’ve already read two or three stories in the one below in different anthologies over the years—I remember “Continued on Next Rock” (1970) most clearly. The Jack Gaughan cover evokes the sheer oddness of Lafferty’s visions. Does it illustrate a story in the collection?
2) Readers have spoken highly of this particular Leiber novel. So I found a copy… not cheap. Alas. See, I sometimes listen to suggestions!
3) I always buy Soviet SF collections. The editor is uncredited but Judith Merril provides a five page introduction I’m eager to read. Maybe she’s the editor? EDIT: According to The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, Judith Merril holds the copyright — indicating that she is the uncredited editor.
4) My first Olaf Stapledon. Someone whose influence I’ve read widely about and been aware of for years. It’s about time I added a few of his works to my collection. I love Paul Klee, but not the art used for the Penguin cover! (In the Land of the Precious Stone, 1929).
All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).
As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.
1. Strange Doings, R. A. Lafferty (1972)
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1973 edition)
From the inside page: “FROM BIZARRE HUMOR TO SHEER HORROR, the sixteen stories in this surprising book cover the entire range of fantasy. All are off-beat with the wry, playful, unboundaried imagination that has gained R. A. Lafferty a steadily increasing following of delighted readers. Stories such as “World Abounding,” “The Man with the Speckled Eyes,” Entire and Perfect Chrysolite,” and the Hugo-contending “Continued on Next Rock,” reveal Lafferty penetrating to the zany realities of the human and inhuman condition.
You will have to move through strange worlds of personality literally splitting itself, of nightmares becoming true and preferred, of the perils of doubting and the hazards of believing. And in each story you will move through the individual and beautiful styles of a master of the unexpected turn of phrase, idea and situation.”
2. Our Lady of Darkness, Fritz Leiber (1977)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1977 edition)
From the back cover: “On the bright San Francisco morning that Western saw the gray, shadow-boned horror peering out at him from his own apartment window, the city became a realm of terror with no escape. For this evil-spawn lurked in every airshaft and alleyway, feeding on the despair and screams of the modern city as the daemons of old fed on the fears of their dark age. It had chosen him, and it had chosen well…. As terrifying as THE EXORCIST, as chilling as SALEM’S LOT, OUR LADY OF DARKNESS explores the nightmare forms of the supernatural in the modern age.”
3. Path into the Unknown, intro by Judith Merril (1968)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1968 edition)
From the back cover: “THE NEW WORLD OF SOVIET SCIENCE FICTION where robots challenge their creators for domination of the Earth…
where a strange form of mutation threatens to change men into beasts…
where human needs and values are locked fateful battle with the totalitarian ethos of the machine..
These are but a few of the themes reflected in this gathering of flittering gems of Soviet Science Fiction. Like all great SF, these dazzling flights of the imagination will shake up your previous ideas of the possible and the probably. And they may also drastically alter your conception of just what is happening in Russia today.”
4. Sirius (variant title: Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord), Olaf Stapledon (1944)
(Paul Klee’s cover for the 1964 edition)
From the back cover: “Sirius is a tale of immense and tragic pathos in which Olaf Stapeldon evokes the terrible loneliness of a dog born with the mind of a man. Thomas Trelone’s life-work was to explore the possibilities of producing a superman by experimenting with the hormone injections into various mammals. Sirius himself is infinitely the most successful of these trials. he is the only viable puppy born with the brain capacity of a human being, but he still has the senses, the instincts, and the physique of a dog. Born at the same time as Plaxy, Thomas’s youngest daughter, the child and puppy brought up together, share the same lessons, and develop an intense understanding of one another’s humanness and dogness.
It is the inevitable conflict between Sirius’s intellect and instincts and its effects upon the girl, Plaxy, which was produced one of the most moving of the ‘Wonder Stories’ we call Science Fiction.”