Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVIII (Sargent + Kelley + Ely + Anthology ed. Harry Harrison)

1. Leo P. Kelley is an author whose work I’ve encountered in various used book stores but never acquired…. until now. Here’s the SF Encyclopedia entry on his work. Let me know if you’ve read any of them!

Note: The Kelley edition and cover are different than the one I own. I accidentally mutilated the cover by removing (by incorrect means) a large sticker. I own the 1971 Berkley Medallion first edition.

2. I adored David Ely’s Seconds (1962). I hope to have a review up soon! I went ahead and acquired his only other SF novel.

3. Although I’ve read and complained vehemently about Pamela Sargent’s Cloned Lives (1976), I’m  not a reader who gives up on an author after a single novel. Like Cloned LivesThe White Death (variant title: The Sudden Star) (1979), creates a tapestry of characters presented with a crisis. I’ll read this one sooner than later.

4. An original anthology on the year 2000. I couldn’t pass it up especially as it contains a SF short story by Naomi Mitchison. I remember Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) fondly….

As always, let me know your thoughts on the books/covers/or tangents.



1. The Coins of Murph, Leo P. Kelley (1971)

(Colin Hay’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover of the 1971 Berkley edition: “TOSS THE COIN, BROTHER!

Beforeit became Afterit, and Afterit shall never be the same as Beforeit. For once Manking made Decisions. Now Murph has ordered a change in the ways of Man.


The wheels of Murph grind slowly, but exceedingly small, and Randland waits for Losers, so


2. A Journal of the Flood Year, David Ely (1992)

(Candy Jernigan’s cover for the 1992 edition)

From the inside flap: “David Ely’s first novel since 1974, A Journal of the Flood Year, is as imaginative, as original and haunting as his famed novel, Seconds. Transporting his readers into the near future, Ely introduces an East Coast that has been unnaturally extended into the Atlantic Ocean to increase America’s wealth by creating new mining opportunities and tapping into a new energy source–“wave power.” The “Wall” is a remarkable technical achievement, except that–as engineer William G. Fowke tries to point out–it is leaking. But the authorities have already tagged him as a troublemaker. Hunted by a vindictive bureaucracy backed by robotic trackers and an agent of the Department of Interior Personnel Security, Fowke’s odyssey takes him–and the woman who is either his pursuer or his lover–on a tour of domestic gulags that comprise a vision at once shocking and blackly comic.”

3. The White Death (variant title: The Sudden Star), Pamela Sargent (1979)

(Uncredited cover for the 1980 edition)

From the back cover: “The appearance of the white star bathing the land in a deadly glare turned America into a nightmare of fear and violence.


In this land of gun-law only the toughest can survive. Simon Negron was one of the few who tried to take a stand against the madness and terror of the streets. The price of his rebellion was high but the power of desperation was higher.


A brilliant adventure novel of the time when a natural disaster brought violent chaos to the world.”

4. The Year 2000, ed. Harry Harrison (1970)

(Pat Steir’s cover for the 1970 edition)

From the back cover: “‘If science fiction has an impact to make upon our society, I think it does, it is in its attitude towards science, not in any one-to-one description of things to come.’–Harry Harrison

In compiling this unique anthology, Mr. Harrison asked some of science fiction’s most noted writers to contribute an original story, the only stipulation being that the story be set in the year 2000. The result is thirteen stories highly imaginative in content and characterization, yet all oddly similar. They concern themselves with existing crises which confront man today–overpopulation, racial difficulties, space exploration, starvation, and man’s most devastating game, War–and many of them picture the twenty-first Century as a time to fear if our present course of events and actions are not drastically altered.

If we continue our existing policies and attitudes then Africa may become much as Chad Oliver views it in “Far From This Earth.” And if our pressing overpopulation problem is not remedies then we might find ourselves being torn apart over the value of human life as experienced in Keith Laumer’s “The Lawgiver.” And unless true action is taken in the United States over racial problems we might find New York much as Robert Silverberg sees it in “Black is Beautiful” and Mr. Harrison pictures the country in “American Dead.” On the other end of the scale a perfect Utopia is undesirable as Mack Reynold’s “Utopian” clearly illustrates.”

Contents: Fritz Leiber’s “America the Beautiful,” Daniel F. Galouye’s “Prometheus Rebound,” Chad Oliver’s “Far from This Earth,” Naomi Mitchison’s “After the Accident,” Brian W. Aldiss’ “Orgy of the Living and the Dying,” Betram Chandler’s “Sea Change,” Robert Silverberg’s “Black is Beautiful,” David I. Masson’s “Take It or Leave It,” Keith Laumer’s “The Lawgiver,” J. J. Coupling’s “To Be a Man,” Thomas N. Scortia’s “Judas Fish,” Harry Harrison’s “American Dead.”

11 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCVIII (Sargent + Kelley + Ely + Anthology ed. Harry Harrison)

  1. Hi

    I can’t say that I have read any of the authors whose novels appeared in your post. But hands down the cover for me was Hay’s skeletons. One thing about SF is there seems to be a lot of brains, or boney bits, often just skulls, on the covers. I am not sure if this is just a trait it shares with other genre fields, horror for example, but it is one I enjoy. Nothing convinces me to buy a book on spec faster than a nice brain or skull on the cover.

    Happy Reading

  2. Back in 2013 I read Kelley’s ‘The Earth Tripper’. Wasn’t impressed enough to seek out anything else by the author. His use of the word “groovy” in dialog set the tone for me.

  3. As I recall, Coronet released 4 of Kelly’s books in quick succession back in 1973/74, including The Coins of Murph. I read them all and I’m afraid I now no longer anything about them although I have a feeling ‘Coins’ was the best of them. Certainly it’s the only title I remembered without looking them up!

    I think two were not very good at all and the other two were very average.
    My abiding memory is that, having read them so close together, it was obvious (to me, at least) that two of the covers were on the wrong books and fitted the others plot much better!
    The four titles were The Coins of Murph, Mindmix, Mythmaster & The Earth Tripper. I don’t think they did particularly well.

    • As always, I look forward to exploring his works — or, at least, this particular one!

      I always find it intriguing what the UK presses decided to publish from the US market.

      • Not a title of hers that I’ve read. I read and enjoyed The Shore of Women when it came out, and the first two in her Venus series (I think I still have v3, but it came out over a decade after the others and I haven’t got round to it). A big trilogy about terraforming Venus three or four years before KSR’s big trilogy about terraforming Mars!

        • I’ll put it on the list. I finished The Sudden Star (variant title: The White Death) — my ambivalence grew and grew… I’m hoping to have a quick rundown of short reviews to clear out my growing to review pile. i might include a few brief paragraphs about it…

          • I remember reading Tepper’s somewhat similar The Gate to Women’s Country around the same time as The Shore of Women and preferring the Sargent…

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