Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

1. My friend Mike sent this to me…. of dubious quality to say the least. But, O my, the cover!

2. Tell me again why I continue to buy Robert Heinlein paperbacks? Why in the world did I read SO MANY OF HIS BOOKS as a kid? Some of life’s persistent questions….

3. John Wyndham short fiction—or rather, a fix-up novel of sorts–with a co-writer. Did not realize any of his work was co-written…. Has anyone read it?

4. William Tenn’s short fiction collection is by far the most appealing of the bunch—his stories always have me chortling with laughter.  For example, The Human Angle (1956) and Of Men and Monsters (1968)

1. Gone To Be Snakes Now, Neal Bell (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition)


The survivors of Old Earth’s holocaust had lived in the Valley as long as they could remember. How they had got there no one knew. They only knew that it was forbidden by the Elders to leave. For beyond the valley lay the dread Outside–uncharted deserts swarming with vipers, ruined cities inhabited by ghastly mutants, and the Great Bird, who devoured human flesh.

This is the story of one who ventured Outside. What he found was the solution to an ancient riddle–and the mystery of Death itself.”

2. 6 x H (variant title: The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag), Robert Heinlein (1959)

(Bill Skurski’s cover for the 1971 edition)



Why woul dirty fingernails drive a man half-mad with feat?


There was this traveling salesman, get it? What was his line? Why–elephants, of course///


She was too much–or rather, too many…


The psychiatrist who was something else…


It’s a good wind that blows no ill….


He built a house that wasn’t there, but then again–where was there?

Six striking stories of logical fantasy, fantastic science, and uncommon imagination by America’s most powerful science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein.”

3. The Outward Urge, John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes (1959)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1959 edition)

From the back cover: CENTURIES have passed since man first set out across the uncharted seas of his own world. But the same urgent sprit that drove men on journeys from which they knew they might never return is still tugging and pushing. And now the restless questing of mankind has sent him out across the unknown seas of space.

Nobody knows for certain what will be found out there. That is why they go. To some men the unknown calls like a magnet, the siren call of adventure and exploration, needing the ever present drive to discover things that no man has ever seen before.

The Troon family have bred explorers as far bas as they can trace. Somewhere in every generation, some one male feels that urge to get away from all things known, to uncover new ground. This is a story of four generations in the Troon family, of four men of high courage, and of the wonders and mysteries they discovered beyond the horizon of the sky.”

4. Of All Possible Worlds, William Tenn (1955)

(Blanchard’s cover for the 1960 edition)

From the inside cover: “SUPPOSE… a man who was blasted into our time from the future arrived without any clothes?

SUPPOSE… a man who craved the love of beautiful women got too much of it?

SUPPOSE… a conscientious young realtor refused to rent a floor in an office building because it didn’t exist?

On such faintly horrifying, delightfully absurd speculations are some of these stories founded. With a keen satirical touch William Tenn uses his insight into contemporary life as a springboard into an absolutely believable, if slightly wacky, future.

Not all the stories are humorous. Some of them make deeply thoughtful comments on life (as does the unusual preface); but whether they tuck the funny bone, or stimulate the brain cells, they are all intensely fascinating reading.

William Tenn has been building a constantly increasing group of admirers through his many magazine appearances. This collection demonstrates clearly that he belongs in the forefront of our best science-fiction writers.”

13 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXXVIII (Heinlein + Tenn + Wyndham + Bell)

  1. Lucas Parkes were two of John Wyndham’s many names – his full name was John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris. He used combinations of his other names as pen names as well. Quite why he decided to publish this book as a collaboration, I’m not sure. I think I may have read the book but it would have been as a teenager, over 40 years ago and I have no memory of it.

    • Thanks! Ah, I find it strange that a single author would publish a book under two names…..

      It seems like a rather predictable type of narrative — one which, of course, Judith Merril reoriented to follow female rather than male descendants of a single family in Daughters of Earth (1952).

  2. Hi

    I have the Wyndham but can’t say I have read it. Everyone used to read Heinlein when I started reading science fiction, his juveniles, which I mostly liked, were in all the school libraries. I am not sure how much influence he has on current writers. I did take a quick look the Chapters Bookstore database and many of his books are still available in stores. Sadly it is mostly his later novels, none of which I bothered to read, as they seemed to grow longer and more self indulgent as he aged. But I have to say you have picked up one of the most “far out” Heinlein covers I have ever seen.

    Happy Reading

    • I think it’s because my father grew up reading a lot of his stuff — so when I showed an interest in SF Heinlein was one of the first names on his lips. And yes, I have so many of his juveniles, too many…. If I remember correctly I gave away a bunch a while ago (thank goodness!).

      I almost picked up one of his short story collections recently to reread it…. Almost is the key word.

  3. Joachim,
    I have Moscow 2042 on my to be acquired list, but the priority dropped after plodding through a couple of Russian efforts by the Strugatsky brothers: Roadside Picnic and especially The Time Wanderers. The latter had me skimming through some tedious sections so I could get to the end. I have to agree with your last comment on Heinlein, particularly the juvenile part. They’re definitely easy reading, like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, though some of his characters are just plain obnoxious like those of Podkayne of Mars. The last one I reread was one of his adult efforts, Methuselah’s Children, and I still found it enjoyable. I read the Wyndham/Parkes last year. It was a little above average. I’m not sure you’re going to like it very much… And as for Tenn’s Of All Possible Worlds, which I also read last year for the first time, the leading novelette, Down Among the Dead Men, was the only memorable one for me. I’ve never heard of Bell so I’m looking forward to your take on him.

    • Ah, Vladimir Voinovich is the author of Moscow 2042….. Yeah I have a lot on that series of Russian SF but I haven’t gotten around to reading many of them. I’ve read the Strugatsky’s The Ugly Swans (which was fine but I never reviewed). I’ve not read enough of their work to form a clear position.

      It’s Bell’s only published SF work according to ISFDB — someone in the comments below claimed it’s fantastic but they haven’t explained why.

  4. I’m gonna assume, and I guess I can look it up, but I won’t, is that Wyndham first published the stories under one name, and by the time that they ended up in paperback, the Wyndham name was more popular.

    Love the cover for Gone To Be Snakes Now, seen that artstyle before; very surreal. Got the book somewhere, but I’ve never heard of the author before, or since

    Hate the cover art for the William Tenn collection, but have always like, on the average, Tenn’s fiction.

    If I remember correctly the Heinlein collection is some of his best stuff, all his fantasy and science fantasy stuff. Farmer In The Sky with its classic Paul Lehr cover was my favorite novel of his.novels. I suppose he was so popular because he was found in every library that I have found myself in. I think that you’ll like the story They.

    • Perhaps. Although, at the time, I generally did not care about the art itself. I think there’s a more straightforward reason — he is so frequently considered a pillar of the genre and he PUBLISHED SO DARN MUCH (and mysteriously so much of it is in print) that the bookstores are filled with his work….

      • I agree. It’s the sheer volume of Heinlein’s, mostly past but still a steady trickle today. I reckon it’s a case of 1. “he published so darn much”, and 2. so many copies were produced. the second point is pretty crucial. It’s what marks out a Heinlein from another often better author who also published a lot (or not) but just simply doesn’t get market “success”.

  5. Like many others I read a lot of Heinlein in my misspent youth. Time For The Stars remains a nostalgic favourite, which also managed to survive a re-reading a few years back. But like many others, I find Heilein’s peculiar brand of right-wing libertarianism a bit hard to stomach these days. I’ve been reading the odd Heinlein short lately as I’ve been slowly plowing my way through the Asimov/Greenberg Best SF Stories 1939-63. Though well constructed, in comparison to many of his peers, I feel they just don’t stand up (though to be fair, some do…). I read the Wyndham/Parkes novel as a teen. As I remember it had the feel of a fix-up, each chapter covering a different phase of the, ahem, ‘outward urge’.

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