Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

1. DAW Books published quite a few of Pierre Barbet’s pulpy French SF adventures in translation (SF encyclopedia points out some similarities between Barbet and Poul Anderson) in the 1970s. I found a copy for a dollar at a local Half Price Books — the premise of The Napoleons of Eridanus (1970, trans. 1976) sounds utterly silly but fun! I might sneak it in between heavier novels….

2. More Larry Niven short stories + nonfiction–A Hole in Space (1974)… With the oddest dedication ever—“thank you great-grandfather for the trust fund that allowed me to become a published author.”

3. Michael Moorcock’s Rituals of Infinity (serialized 1965) was originally published in New Worlds under the name James Colvin as The Wrecks of Time. It was abridged without Moorcock’s consent to fit in an Ace Double–the complete version was published by Arrow Books in 1971. I made sure to track down the complete edition. I do not have high hopes for this early Moorcock novel— hopefully it reads like one of his experimental stories.

4. I spent a tad too much for this one! The Animal Doctor: A Novel of the Future (1973, trans. 1975): SF in translation from Scandinavia… and an author I’ve never heard of. From the inside flap blurb (reproduced below) it seems like my cup of tea.

Thoughts? Tangents? A book that intrigues or stands out?

Let me know!


Note: scans are of my personal copies. Click to enlarge.


1. The Napoleons of Eridanus, Pierre Barbet (1970, trans. 1976)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1976 edition)


Supposing your world was an advanced Utopia that had eliminated war so long ago that nobody knew how to conduct an adequate defense. Then suppose your solar system was invaded by a fleet of alien warfare.

So they kidnapped a band of experienced soldiers–Napoleonic veterans fleeing Moscow through the snows of that terrible winter of 1812.

Captain Bernard of the Imperial Dragoons took on the task. But being a loyal Bonapartist campaigner, he had ambitions that Utopian aliens could not suspect.

THE NAPOLEONS OF ERIDANUS is a surprise-filled romp in transposed history…”

2. A Hole in Space, Larry Niven (1974)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover:

Fiction contents: “Rammer” (1971), “The Alibi Machine” (1973), “The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club” (1974), “A Kind of Murder” (1974), “All the Bridges Rusting” (1973), “There is a Tide” (1968), “$16,940.00” (1974), “The Hole Man” (1974), “The Fourth Profession” (1971).

Note: The collection contains one non-fiction work that appeared in Analog Science Fact: “Bigger Than Worlds” (1974)

3. The Rituals of Infinity (variant title: The Wrecks of Time), Michael Moorcock (serialized 1965)

(Geoff Taylor’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “It is nearly three decades since the discovery of the sub-spacial alternates–twenty-four lumps of matter hanging in a limbo outside space and time, each sharing the name of Earth.

Now there are only fifteen of them–the rest blown to extinction by the ruthless attacks of the D-squads. Even the surviving planets are doomed to a cruel mutilated existence.

Standing between them and their final destruction at the hands of the merciless demolition teams is Michael Moorcock’s zanies hero–the brilliant, offbeat physicist Professor Faustaff.”

4. The Animal Doctor: A Novel of the Future, P. C. Jersil (1973, trans. 1975)

(Rick Grote’s cover for for the 1975 edition)

From the inside flap: “In this, his most popular book, P. C. Jersild, one of Sweden’s best writers and also a practicing physician, has used both his writer’s imagination and his scientific knowledge to create a disturbing and uncannily realistic vision of the future.

Set in 1988-89 at the imaginary Alfred Nobel Medical-Surgical Institutes, The Animal Doctor describes a not unforeseeable world in which administrative science and social technology rule over feeling and “hyperhuman” is a term of disdain. The human beings and the research animals face oddly similar predicaments: both can be observed, controlled, and thrown into mazes.

The book’s heroine, Evy Beck, a well-meaning, middle-aged woman, becomes veterinarian for NMSI and innocently enters combat with a wily and impenetrable bureaucracy. First she struggles hopelessly to find out the purpose of her job, or even someone who will tell her what she is supposed to be doing: “If we expressed ourselves on that,” she is told, “we’d be steering your program.” Later, when she protests against an inhumane experiment on a roomful of starving rats, she learns that stopping it will take at least three years. “We have such long drawn-out liquidation procedures.”

Jersil peoples jos wpr;d with sympathetic characters who live outside satire. His witty, perceptive inventions give the book its constant bite. But despite his sense of the comic, Jersil, like Huxley and Orwell, has found a grim form for the future by extending the lines of our present lives and values.”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCX (Moorcock + Niven + Jersild + Barbet)

  1. I think that’s one of Niven’s better collections–the stories are not all shoehorned to fit into his “Known Space” universe and so are more original than a lot of his later work.

    • Yeah, it definitely seemed to have a range of his stories — even a non-genre one: “$16,940.00” (1974).

      I haven’t read Niven’s short fictions in more than a decade.

  2. The Rituals of Infinity being hacked down to become The Wrecks of Earth may explain why I found it so poor that I don’t think I finished it despite owning it for years and trying more than once!.
    The flip side of the Ace Double was Tramontane by Emil Petaja, one of his sf retellings of the Kalevala. Better, but still a bit odd due to his following the weirdness of the original tale a bit too closely.

  3. I read a LOT of Moorcock as a teenager including Rituals of Infinity (that edition in fact). It was fun and fast paced but I can’t remember a whole lot about it…

    • Any favorites from your earlier Moorcock reading adventures? (we might have discussed An Alien Heat in the past — and my ambivalence towards it — although I can’t remember).

      • Although not science fiction, I still love the Elric books to this day. The Hawkmoon series is also interesting. They exist in a similar area as M. John Harrison’s fantasy work. Recently I read the first two Jerry Cornelius, which I highly recommend. The series gets more unusual as it goes on. I’m pretty sure I’ve not read An Alien Heat.

  4. Hi

    I love the Karel Thole cover for the Barbet novel. I am sure I have it here, unread, but the image captures that somewhat silly but entertaining strain that runs through SF, like Lieber’s short story “A Pail of Air” which I love. The Grote cover for The Animal Doctor on the other hand says I am meant to be taken seriously. I hope you enjoy it.

    • Thole is one of my absolutely favorite SF cover artists — his American covers are never as surreal as his covers for Urania (the famous Italian SF press).

      I loved Pail of Air as well!

      I have high hopes for The Animal Doctor — it has a premise that seems like something I’d enjoy. There is very little about it written online (at least in English) so it’s an unknown quantity.

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