Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXI (Silverberg + Lafferty + Sterling + Nolan)

1) William F. Nolan, best known for Logan’s Run (1967) (film adaptation 1976), was also a prolific short story author. As with my acquisition of Thomas N. Scortia’s collection The Best of Thomas N. Scortia (1981) a while back, I am hoping that a range of short stories might be the best way to approach an author new to me.

*wince*–> My edition has a miserable Chris Foss clone (Tony Roberts) cover!

2) As many R. A. Lafferty novels cost a pretty penny, I now buy them on sight if they are within my price range. I posted recently on Mati Klarwein’s fantastic covers–> here. My high resolution scan should convey the complexity and skill of the art!

3) Silverberg collections fall under the purchase compulsively category. I’ve read two or three from this particular volume already including the wonderful “How It Was When the Past Went Away” (1969).

4) A while back a reader recommended Bruce Sterling’s The Artificial Kid (1980). My wife saw a well-worn copy at a local Half Price Books and procured it for me. I read numerous Sterling works from the late 80s and 90s back when I consumed “newer” SF. I reviewed his first novel a few months ago—Involution Ocean (1977).

The cover is awful. The 1980s aesthetic pains me…

All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.

1. Wonderworlds, William F. Nolan (1977 )


(Tony Roberts’ cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “ROLL UP! ROLL UP!

READ ABOUT the incredible firm of Pairups, Inc., the ideal way to find your ideal mate… unless the programming goes ever so slightly wrong.

WONDER AT the amazing tale of an astronaut who, doomed to die before his ship reaches earth, still manages to keep his promise of returning safe and sound to his aged parents.

SHUDDER AT the story of Fred Baxter, whose pathological hatred of cats leads him to a very sticky end.

ALL THIS AND MORE in one of the most entertaining collections of science fiction stories ever. WILLIAM F. NOLAN’S WONDER WORLDS.”

2. Arrive at Easterwine: The Autobiography of a Ktistec Machine, R. A. Lafferty (1971)


(Mati Klarwein’s cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “‘This, I believe, is the first autobiography of a machine,’ writes Epikt, a Ktistec machine. In the resulting mindbending [sic], at times hilarious, work of imagination, the careful and attentive reader (it takes application to extract the story’s rich and subtle juices) realizes that Epikt is not only presiding at his own birth at the Institute for Impure Science, but it is also adfressing itself to the interpretation of mankind’s most profoundly puzzling problems.’–PW

R. A. Lafferty, the only writer we know who can write rings around himself, is thoroughly at home as an interpreter of the four or five dimensional character that emerges from the birth of Epikt.”

3. Earth’s Other Shadow, Robert Silverberg (1973)


(Uncredited cover (Dean Ellis?) for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “GET YOUR SPACEMAN’S GUILD GAZETE! READ ALL ABOUT THE TERRORS OF THE SPACEWAYS! Mass amnesia strikes San francisco! Police suspect city’s water supply was tampered with. Porpoise saves Seawater Recovery Station! Says he did it for love. Nightmare creature invades Earth, causes widespread panic! Claims it was just looking for a ride home. Tree attacks man! Receives the death sentence. get the world on all these stories and more as intergalactic reporter, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Robert Silverberg, takes you on a fantastic tour through time, space and the human mind as you venture into EARTH’S OTHER SHADOW.”

4. The Artificial Kid, Bruce Sterling (1980)


(Bohdi Wind’s miserable cover for the 1987 edition)

From the back cover: “Put on your combat gear–and meet the Kid… On the planet of Reverie, violence is theater, and the Artificial Kid stands center stage: his bristled black hair laminated in plastic, armored in leather and metallic scale trousers, his floating cameras immortalizing the action… The Kid is unbeatable. Until he makes some deadly enemies.”


25 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXI (Silverberg + Lafferty + Sterling + Nolan)

    • What particularly fun ideas should I look out for?

      From the back cover description, I can definitely see that it is the main character. That said, a literal image isn’t always the most effective! haha

      And, I suspect there are more intriguing scenes throughout the novel itself that could have appeared on the cover.

      • A lot of different riffs on the theme of biology and identity, and how changing one affects the other. The big question is probably, “if you change yourself into someone else, who is it that controls who you are?”

  1. That cover for the Sterling novel is pretty awful I think.I prefer the one for the cover of the Penguin imprint ROC edition I own.I quite liked this at the time I read it,even if I wasn’t dazzled by it,but it’s a long time since I have,so my memory of it isn’t very clear.As I do remember of it though,it had a strong,dense prose style,that made it readable.

  2. This is the Artificial Kid I have:

    It’s the HardWired edition from 1997.

    It’s metallic. Very cyberpunk.

    And I don’t know what they treated the paper with but it hasn’t browned at all in 20 years.

    It was part of a run which also included novels by Rudy Rucker and Charles Platt.

      • Ah, thanks for posting these! I’ve never seen them before. It seems like these three were the only published in the series. I’m guessing The Artificial Kid feels sort of early/proto cyberpunk?

      • Sterling and Rucker were among the first cyberpunks.

        Sterling edited Mirrorshades, the first cyberpunk anthology and co-wrote ‘Mozart in Mirrorshades’, one of my favourite cyberpunk short stories.

        There were future HardWired releases advertised in my copy of Artificial Kid. If they were never actually released that would explain why I don’t have them. I’m a bit of a completist.

      • Read Jeter’s Dr. Adder? As it was to be released in the 1970s but publishers didn’t want to take a change on it I’ve been planning on giving it a read…. (most of what I read from the 1980s happened almost a decade ago)

  3. Gotta say, I look at a word like “Ktistec” and I instinctively think “What word is that spelled backwards?”

    (It’s an anagram for “tickets” but I have no idea if that should be relevant. “Epikt” brings out a similar impulse, but the only thing I can make of it is “I kept”. I feel like a protagonist’s name should be a scramble of something in the present tense.)

  4. The Silverberg cover looks like the work of Fernando Fernandez. See your review of Poul Anderson’s “There Will Be Time.”

  5. Yes, the Sterling cover *is* very 80s – though it reminds me of a cover of an SNES video game (e.g., Double Dragon or Renegade), so *that* association’s actually positive. Beyond that, though…

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