Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

1. Doomsman (1967) is not supposed to be a worthwhile Harlan Ellison work… and one of his few novels. Part of a giant pile given to me by the family friend mentioned in my last acquisition post!

And there’s a short Lin Carter novella included as well….

Note: The cover is quite humorous. Paul Lehr, despite an isfdb.org error in citation, clearly added his touches (the shapes at the bottom, the planets, the colors) to an existing SF image. The face is copied from Ed Valigursky’s cover art for the 1955 edition of Isaac Asimov’s The 1,000 Year Plan (1951). 

2. More Jack Vance! And his first novel — also from the gift stack. And you know me and immortality (a favorite theme)–> I’ve compiled a list here.

3. Still haven’t read Clifford D. Simak’s short fiction…

4. Lawrence Durrell, yes the same Lawrence Durrell, wrote two novels (The Revolt of Aphrodite sequence) that are classified as science fiction. I’ve finally found a copy of the first in the sequence.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Note: covers are hi-res scans of my personal copies.


1. Doomsman, Harlan Ellison (1967) and The Thief of Thoth, Lin Carter (1967)

(Paul Lehr’s cover–repurposing a head Ed Valigursky’s 1955 cover for Isaac Asmov’s 1,000 Year Plan (1951)–for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover: “DOOMSMAN. High in the Rockies, the school stood grey and silent. It had been built to withstand the winds of time. Its walls were molybdenum steel, reinforced with cross-grained layers of duroplast and concrete blocks. This was America State’s little known, deeply feared School for Assassins. Men trained there lived by a philosophy hard as diamond, cold as ice. Their lifework was Death.

THE THIEF OF THOTH. Quicksilver was the most famous and deadly of all the Licensed Legal Criminals and Confidential Agents in the Near Stars. He lived in a castle of organic pink quartz on the planetoid Carvel in that asteroid belt known as the chain of Astarte. The castle clung to a sheer crag of dark green coral which rose from a sea of heavy opal smoke. Its master had grown rich on the proceeds of interplanetary crime.”

2. To Live Forever, Jack Vance (1956)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “IMMORTALITY… man’s dream come true. But limited to the favoured few deemed worthy, by their achievements, to receive the ultimate gift.

THE ASSASSINS… guardians of the law. One wrong step on the road to eternal life, and they would take it away. Forever.

JOHN WARLOCK… Immortal. Amoral. Ruthless. He had committed the one unforgivable crime: murder. That meant he had to stay one jump ahead of the Assassins, or lose the dream of immortality.

TO LIVE FOREVER was Jack Vance’s first full-length novel. It’s a classic–don’t miss it!”

3. So Bright the Vision, Clifford D. Simak (1968)

(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “Clifford D. Simak needs no introduction. For decades his creative talents have delighted and inspired the Science Fiction world. This volume is a collection of four of his most inventive, humorous and exciting novelettes–each different, each fantastic, and each guaranteed reading pleasure.”

Contents: “The Golden Bugs” (1960), “Leg. Forst.” (1958), “So Bright the Vision” (1956), and “Galactic Chest” (1956).

4. Tunc, Lawrence Durrell (1968)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)

No back cover blurb. Summary (non spoiled selections) from Wikipedia: “The protagonist, Felix Charlock, finds himself increasingly tied to the multinational corporation Merlins, which is most often simply called The Firm. He is both contractually and martially tied to the Firm.” Complete summary here.

13 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXCIV (Vance + Ellison + Durrell + Simak + Carter)

  1. That’s the Vance edition I got first… Interesting book and I hope you earn plenty of ‘slope’ for all these reviews, etc! 😉
    Always thought of it as being plotted like a classic tragedy, with the protagonist getting deeper in the shit and having to shovel ever more to try to save himself!

    Background, rather than Spoiler:
    (Everyone’s life is continually assessed as how it benefits society and the resulting graph has to reach set targets within a certain time to earn the next stage of longevity treatments. The angle of the graph is one’s ‘slope’ and the steeper the better. )

    • Never worry about spoilers (maybe some of my readers might be bothered). I have read enough that I figure out most plot twists and endings long before they happen. I also tend to read reviews of books often before I buy/read them.

      To Live Forever might be the Vance in my pile of Vance novels that I read next. I’m a sucker for immortality themed SF and his treatment seems fascinating.

      • I’ve only read a very few Vance novels and also a very few by him that I couldn’t finish! “To Live Forever” is of fair to fairly good quality I thought,but it’s themes and characters as I remember,were bland and unrealised.A much better novel is “The Houses of Ism”,which is much lighter but more complex,descriptive and believable of the world and environment he creates.

  2. Tunc mean then in Latin but is also used by Durrell as an anagram for a part of the female body. I have never read it but have always been put off by knowing this little nugget. I tried the Alexandria Quartet once and thought it was utterly boring. I have not read the Lin Carter piece either and do not wish to. The blurb is so so good that the novella will be such a disappointment. Whoever wrote the blurb deserves some kind of accolade!

    • Hmmm…. As I am something of a Latinist (medieval history PhD — Latin is my primary research language and I can read French, Italian, and some German), I knew what the word meant but not that Durrell had a second reason for choosing it…. And yeah, that does put a damper on my excitement in reading it.

      Lin Carter is very substandard. I’ve encountered a short work here and there and used to read a lot of Ace Doubles before I started reviewing SF here.

  3. Sorry meant to write Tunc means Then in Latin! My fingers were too quick. It is part of a two novel sequence. The other novel is Numquam which means Now.

  4. Joachim,
    Vance’s To Live Forever, which I read probably over twenty years ago, was good, but forgettable so I’ll have to read it again. I envy that you’ll be reading it for the first time.
    Both the Carter and Ellison stories (actually novellas) were so shallow and cliched I had to force myself to finish because I’m rarely a quitter. The only shorter fiction by Simak that I remember reading, other than what was fixed up into The City, was The Big Front Yard.
    As for Durrell: I don’t have Tnuc, but bought the Pocket Books edition of Nunquam for the cover (stylistically and colors most like Paul Lehr, or perhaps a Ralph Brillhart?). I read it and found the content wanting in regards to the blurb.

    • I am very aware. I infrequently write little reflections. For example, I haven’t for two favorite SF authors who died recently — Le Guin and Gardner Dozois. I should, perhaps. But others have written up more articulate thoughts than I have.

      I am very torn over Ellison as he harassed women (Connie Willis for example). He was a radical of the 60s/70s who never really left the 60s/70s.

  5. Ellison carried on many vendetta’s against people whom he thought had wronged him. Much has been written about his feud with Craig Strete f’r example. I suppose that we will never see the publication of The Last Dangerous Visions now, even after receiving advancements for it several times. There was always an excuse. As to Doomsman, he once stated that he fired his agent for re-publishing that novella. I was never a big fan of Lin Carter, but he was a rare author who managed to make a living writing fan fiction. You really can’t mistake a Lehr cover can you? Also, I would be money that the Simak cover is by Richard Corman. Witness a similarity in styles here: http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/c/ca/MDWRLD1975.jpg

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