Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)

1. I seldom buy duplicate editions. I originally read Sturgeon’s masterpiece as a teen and I’m unsure where my original 70s edition with a Bob Pepper cover ran off to…. And this perfect condition 1960 edition has glorious Richard Powers art!

2. George Turner—an author I know next to nothing about. I’ve already read 75 pages of his first novel and am absolutely entranced.

3. Hilbert Schenck—another author who is new to me. He published primarily in the early 80s and snagged a few Nebula nominations for his short fiction. His second novel proved to be a dud (I’ll have a review up soon).

4. Why are you buying another Donald A. Wollheim Best Of collection when you’re firmly in the Terry Carr camp of Best Of anthologies? Good question.

That said, I recently reviewed The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF (1972) and it was solid.

Note 1: All images are hi-res scans of my personal copies — click to expand.

Note 2: A diligent Twitter follower indicated that the 1984 edition cover of the Turner novel is Tony Roberts’ work.

Thoughts? Comments? Tangents? All are welcome.


1. More than Human, Theodore Sturgeon (1953)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition)

From the back cover: “SOMEWHERE IN THIS WORLD there are six people who–together–can do anything. Some day, perhaps tomorrow, they will put their power to work and the world will be transformed. In the meantime they are waiting quietly. They look–and often behave–like people you know. But with a difference: they think of themselves as “I”–not “we”–because in a curious way they are One. That is the source of their strength. This is the story of how they met, and what they became…

…and what they intend to do.”

2. Beloved Son, George Turner (1978)

(Tony Roberts’ cover for the 1984 edition)

From the back cover: RETURN TO A RAVAGED EARTH. 2032, England has gone. The proud industrial nations have destroyed themselves. In a post-cataclysmic Australia humanity survives by ruthless genetic engineering and a cult of youth. Then, out of the stars, come strangers from the past–a space-ship [?] crew who left before the Holocaust and have lived in a slowed-down time-suspended state for over four decades.

Shattered by the bizarre civilization they find, can they–or the new world–survive the encounter…?”

3. A Rose for Armageddon, Hilbert Schenck (1982) (MY REVIEW)

(Don Maitz’s cover for the 1982 edition)

From the back cover: “THE STUNNING NOVEL OF LOVE AND SCIENCE AT THE WORLD’S END. While fuel shortages, hunger and random violence brings chaos and anarchy, scientists struggle to perfect Archmorph, a computer program so vast it may solve the entire riddle of human history. The focus of their study is Hawkins Island, once a paradise in a hostile world. But Dr. Elsa Adams is looking for more than a scientific answer there. Hawkins Island holds a mystery of her own past: a love that may never have happened, one golden afternoon that only she remembers–a love trapped somewhere in the folds of time and space. Now Elsa will risk her friends, her career and her life–a discovery that may strand between humanity and total annihilation.”

4. The 1973 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1973)

(William F. Shields’ cover for the 1st hardback edition)

From the inside flap: “It is a known fact that the prominent sci-fi editor-writer-fan, Donald A. Wollheim, produced the first fantasy journal as far back as 1935, then followed it up with the first professional SF anthology in 1940.

Today, with THE 1973 ANNUAL WORLD’S BEST SF, Donald Wollheim continues the tradition of quality with which he has been identified for over a quarter of a century. Here is a sampling of what you’ll discover–

In Poul Anderson’s “Goat Song”, an all-power computer, SUM, rule a future Earth from deep within an ancient castle. Relying totally on machines to govern their lives, people have all but forgotten their emotions. Just one man, Harper, an inhabitant of the barbaric “outside” world, is left to stem the tide of mental decay that eventually will enslave mankind. Armed only with his wits and a spear, Harper takes on the system in the strangest “man vs. machine” confrontation ever devised!

Apart from being a science fiction writer, Robert J. Tilley is also a fine musician–a factor that makes “Willie’s Blues” a totally absorbing account of a time-travelling jazz buff. Coming back to the past to study the life of a famous trumpeter, the time traveler inadvertently discovers the paradoxes and hazards of trying to change history.

“The Gold at the Starbow’s End” by Hugo Award winner Frederik Pohl puts eight young men and women against the loneliness of a ten-year voyage to Alpha Centauri, their special laser drives taking their spaceship up to speeds approaching light. But a diabolical scientist has sent the unwitting group on a suicide mission to a nightmare region where travelers in strange ways… change them so radically that it might mean the end of human life as we know it.

In “Thus Love Betrays Us,” newcomer Phyllis MacLennon brings us a superb “off-planet” tale about a strange, sad and terrifying world called Deirdre–a nightmarish jungle planet where dense fog threatens to choke all that walk on its surface. Into this shadowy twilight zone comes stranded astronaut Alex Bathold, who must single-handedly survive until rescue comes from beyond the stars. His fight against loneliness and death brings him to the brink of insanity until an alien horror “befriends” him.

These and six other excellent stories by such authors as Clifford Simak, James Tiptree, Jr., and Michael G. Coney will prove conclusively that this truly is the world’s best science fiction.”

Authors in the collection: Poul Anderson, James Tiptree, Jr., Michael G. Coney, Frederik Pohl, Clifford D. Simak, T. J. Bass, W. Macfarlane, Robert J. Tilley, Vernor Vinge, Phyllis MacLennon.

21 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCII (Sturgeon + Turner + Schenck + Best of 1973 Anthology)

  1. The Anderson and the Pohl were solid entries in this volume, I still remember them both (Anderson was a mirror to Ellison “Mouth”). The rest of the volume, I can’t recall.

    And that seems to be the same with all the “best of” anthologies from D.A.W. One or two stories that stick, but most of each feel like they left the memory quickly.

    Timescape entry: I didn’t have that one, but I had many from Timescape (Pocket). Great series of reprints and new volumes! I found many favorites from that run. Bonus was that the publication my wife worked at around that time was having them sent as promotional items and she would bring them all home to me. Free books!

    • Thanks for the comment!

      I’m pretty sure I’ve read the Pohl story before. I read and reviewed the Anderson story in his Homeward Bound (1975) collection.

      Here is what I wrote (without peeking at my review I remembered a few details. A sold piece of short fiction!):

      “Goat Song” (1972) 4/5 (Good): In 1973 “Goat Song” went up against Ellison, Wilhelm, and Tiptree, Jr. et al and somehow managed to nab the Hugo and Nebula award in the novelette category. Although it is easily the best entry in the collection I doubt it measures up to the works of the three mentioned above (I shall endeavor to track their stories down!). The mythical content is well done although the poetry, lifted from Rupert brooke’s “Lines Written in the Belief That the Ancient Roman Festival of the Dead Was Called Ambarvalia” (1915) is trite: “The state of man does change and vary / Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary / No dansand mirry, now like to die: — /Timor mortis conturbat me” (137).

      A myth heavy vision of a future Earth controlled by SUM—a vast computer that controls all things: “nothing but SUM could have controlled the firefly dance of a million aircars among the towers: or, for that matter, have maintained the entire city, from nuclear powerplants through automated factories, physical and economic distribution networks, sanitation, repair, services, education, culture, order, everything as one immune immortal organism” (128). Not all participate in this regimented world–Thrakla and her followers go native and the narrator still sings songs… He is motivated for his desire to see his love again, for SUM to reanimate her. But first, he must convince the human emissary of SUM, Lady of Ours, to bring him to the machine.”

      I was initially very excited about the Schenck volume in part because the SF encyclopedia blurb about him seems mostly positive (and he snagged a few Nebula nominations for his short fiction) — http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/schenck_hilbert

      And, you know me, I love reading lesser known authors so I take some risks (and Schenck was one of them). I should have a review up in the next few days. But, it was not worth the time….

  2. I think it’s in the Anderson collection GOING FOR INFINITY where he talks about how that story and “I Have No Mouth” by Ellison were both born out of the same conversation (maybe a dare by another writer?). Will have to dig that collection out of storage to check.

  3. George Turner is excellent. His best novel is probably The Sea and Summer (AKA The Drowning Towers). His writing is definitely a cut above what is typical for the genre – but he did start out as a mainstream writer.

    • Thanks for the comment. Have you read Beloved Son? There are so few reviews online… I went based on SF Encyclopedia’s solid recommendation (Clute indicated that his earlier SF tends to be on the serious side and that The Sea and Summer is something of a departure from his earlier works).

      • I’ve read all of his sf. I even have a copy of his hard to find sf collection. And two of his mainstream novels and hi autobiography on the TBR 🙂 All of his sf is serious, and I’ve no idea what Clute meant by calling The Sea and the Summer a departure. I can’t remember which Turner novel it is, but the first time I saw Highlander I was convinced the film had ripped off its premise from Turner’s novel.

  4. From GOING FOR INFINITY (I think Ellison tells the flipside of the stor in one of his anthologies):

    “Ever since the old pulp magazine days, science fiction people, fans and pros together, have had that unique closeness, forming what’s been almost an extended family. The sheer size of the field has now much diluted this, but it’s still there at the core, and many a work has originated half accidentally, because somebody happened to be with somebody else and it sparked an idea. The next story here gives an example.

    “When Damon Knight and his wife lived in Milford, Pennsylvania, they took to hosting an annual, invitational writers’ conference. Attenders brought manuscripts for their peers to criticize, often ruthlessly, then in the evenings they partied. Karen and I were only there in 1966, but enjoyed it immensely. Who wouldn’t, in company with the likes of Gordon Dickson, Richard MacKenna, James Blish, John Brunner, Anne McCaffrey, Alan Nourse, Ted Cogswell, Phyllis Gotlieb— The list would be too long. On one of those evenings Harlan Ellison felt like doing a new story. He settled down with his typewriter in the otherwise empty dining room. From time to time he’d pop out into the smoky, boozy, noisy, cheery turmoil, shout a question at someone, get a reply, and pop back in. I remember he asked me about a point in Norse mythology and, caught off guard, I gave him a not-quite-correct answer; but no matter. Next day we all saw the story. It was “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”— a title which, by the way, came from a cartoon by fan artist William Rotsler.

    “I think it was these associations as well as its power that made it haunt me. No doubt Cocteau’s film Orpheus had some influence too. Finally everything crystallized as “Goat Song.” About the only similarity between the two science fiction tales is the concept of human personalities preserved after death as data in a giant, probably quantum-mechanical computer system, for eventual resurrection either into virtual reality or as downloads into new bodies. Harlan didn’t have a patent on it, but it was pretty new at the time, and I thought it proper to request his okay, which he graciously gave. The story quickly sold to a well-paying magazine, but hadn’t been published when the magazine folded. After it had languished for years, I got it back (my thanks to Barry Malzberg for advice about what to do) and placed it in Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was well-received, winning awards and being reprinted several times, though not recently. How I wish Tony could have seen it. But he had long since resigned his editorship, and died in 1968.”

  5. Anthony Boucher, the original editor and founder of The Magazine Of Science Fiction, a man who had three separate careers in science fiction: editor, critic, and writer, and who wrote and criticized in both science fiction/fantasy and mystery/suspense

  6. Hi

    The gem for me is the cover for More Than Human I think it is my favourite Powers cover. The World’s Best has a list of very good authors and I always find something I enjoy in Wollheim’s collections, 1973 looks very promising.

    Happy Reading

    • I enjoy this Powers cover as well — especially the third more faint face within the hand…

      Yeah, I was slightly disappointed with the Wollheim collection for 1972 (reviewed a few weeks ago) — let’s hope 1973 brings it up a notch!

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