Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIX (The Scotland Edition) (Moorcock + Cowper + Dozois + Raphael)

My perambulations through Scotland (Edinburgh–> castles–> castles–> Aberdeen–> Orkney Islands–> broch–> chambered cairn –> haggis meat pie) has not provided the most suitable opportunities to sit down and put in the hours necessary to review books. However it has given me the opportunity to acquire a range of UK editions.

1) Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel. Count me intrigued (but filled with trepidation)! I look forward to reading The Final Programme (1968) when I finally get home to the States.

A bizarre Bob Haberfield cover!

Relevant recent review: An Alien Heat (1972)

2) Gardner Dozois blew me away with his short story “Horse of Air” (1970) and I look forward to trying one of his novel length works. Strangers (1978) was nominated for the 1979 Nebula Award.

3) Rick Raphael’s slice of life fix-up novel–about life patrolling the streets of the future–Code Three (1967) was not without merits. I’m eager to read more of his short fiction.

4) Richard Cowper’s Profundis (1979) mixed humor and a wicked streak of satire to create a SF parable that made me want more. And the short stories in The Custodians (1976) were middling to good. Kuldesak (1972) takes on a far more standard theme…

Note: as I am not home with my handy scanner these are cover images I found online rather than high resolution images of my own copies.

I look forward to your thoughts! Any favorite covers?

1. The Final Programme, Michael Moorcock (1968)

(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “A Very Tasty World. Jerry Cornelius is already an underground legend, a comic-strip hero, saint and devil in one. This is his first novel. In it he fights out a grim vendetta in a French chateau, guns his way through the fleshy jungle of a devastated London to a laughable clue in the icy wastes of Sweden, tackles the sinister Miss Brunner and throws a vast party that lasts for months in Ladbroke Grove, and finally (in a high state of sexual ambivalence) leads a horde of happy pilgrims to their death, like lemmings, in the sea, until he (or she) is the only man (or woman) left on the Earth…

Michael Moorcock at his imaginative, breathtaking best.”

2. Strangers, Gardner Dozois (1978)

(Steve Weston’s cover for the 1980 edition)

From the back cover: “Hundreds of years in the future, Earthmen have moved out into the galaxy — but they don’t particularly shine among the other races bother older and wiser. In fact Earth travellers [sic] are second-class citizens, able to offer little the incomprehensibly alien cultures of outer space.

Joseph Farber is an artist living uncomfortably and despondently among the alien Cian — though moved by their strange and powerful rituals. Then he meets Liraun, a humanoid Cian, and they fall in love. But love between the races is forbidden…

Against all obstacles a marriage is arranged. It is then they begin to realize the full price of their relationship.”

3. The Thirst Quenchers, Rick Raphael (1965)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)

From the back cover: “Rick Raphael is ‘one of the best of the new science fiction writers’ (Judith Merril), ‘his picture of the future is the most original and well-rounded since the famous Heinlein series’ (Books and Bookmen), his stories are ‘fascinating’ (Yorkshire Post) and ‘vastly good… I want to read a lot more by Mr Rick Raphael’ (Irish Radio).

This is the first English book by American-on-the-move Raphael. Four crisp, outstanding stories which show how human nature faces the problems of the future — THE THIRST QUENCHERS and GUTTERSNIPE: the drama, agony and challenge of an overpopulated world where water (supplies rapidly dwindling) is more previous than gold… THE MAILMAN COMETH: two young operators in the Galactic Postal Service dream nostalgically of the girls they’ve left behind — until a beautiful redhead emerges with space-ship trouble… ODD MAN IN: how an anachronistic old cattle-rancher struggles to maintain his freedom in the regulated new world…”

4. Kuldesak, Richard Cowper (1972)

(Jim Burns’ cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “Earth, two thousand years after the final holocaust which drove man deep underground; a ghostly, deserted landscape peopled only by the diligent robots who, century after century, silently harvest grain which no man will eat.

Up into this eerie world comes Mel, a questioning young Roamer who has disobeyed the Law which says he must never venture into or beyond the Lost Levels. Together with three companions, and a companion not of this Earth, Mel takes on the awesome task of freeing human beings from the tyranny imposed on them by their remote ancestors; of justifying the agonized cry of Barney as he died in a forbidden Level: ‘I am a man! Everything is for man!’

Kuldesak is a gripping, brilliantly inventive new novel by the author of Phoenix and Breakthrough.”

5 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIX (The Scotland Edition) (Moorcock + Cowper + Dozois + Raphael)”

  1. I liked Dozois as a short story writer and bought the novel when it came out, expecting great things of it. I kept my copy for many years but finally realised I was permanently paused maybe a third of the way through and never going to finish it, so off it went!
    His collection, The Visible Man, has good stuff in it and his collaborative collection Slow Dancing Through Time is very good, too. (It’s a collection of stories he’s co-written with a variety of authors – Jack Dann, Michael Swanwick, Susan Casper & Jack C. Haldeman II )

    Kuldesak wasn’t bad, iirc, but I remember little about it now.
    Sure I’ve read at least one of the stories in The Thirst Quenchers.but, again, recall very little of it.
    I was never a Moorcock fan.

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. On the ferry from the Orkney Islands to Aberdeen, then a flight to Rome….. Thanks for meeting up with me in Edinburgh!

      I also assumed he was a better short story author than novelist — but, as with you, I can’t help but give it a go 🙂 Thankfully I own a copy of The Visible Man and have been reading a story here and there in it on and off. I am unsure if I’m going to get around to reviewing it as a result.

      From the Cowper I’ve read far I’ve noticed that his prose isn’t half bad. Especially in the short story the “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” in The White Bird of Kinship sequence. I’m hoping Kuldesak is similar.

      I’ll have a review of The Thirst Quenchers up momentarily!

  2. I have most of Cowpers’ work, but never got around to reading him, yet. I love the Jim Burns cover for that one. I also have many Moorcocks and am slowly working my way through them, over the years. Not done any Cornelius novels yet, though. Having said that, I reckon the Cornelius sequence will be much more your ‘cup of tea’ than most other Moorcock books; they are the most experimental and interesting, in a New Wave/metafictional sense, I think, and hence more to your taste. And that amazing cover is legendary, if one is of a certain age and remembers the UK hippy culture of the early 70s. i.e., every self-respecting hippy had a copy of The Final Programme – only the Mayflour paperback edition, as you posted, mind – along with their Led Zeppelin, Gong and Santana double gate-fold albums, with….ahem….various ‘herbal’ substances, always spread along the covers! Indeed, all of those brilliant Bob Haberfield covers for the Mayfower Moorcock’s were seminal cultural artefacts, at the time.

    Oh, and the film version of The Final Programme is very groovy and lots of fun, if not particularly good SF, and despite the fact that Moorcock disowned it…

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