Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVIII (Poul Anderson, Kathleen M. Sidney, Barry B. Longyear, Philippe Curval)

1. I have yet to read anything by Barry B. Longyear, best known Enemy Mine (with David Gerrold) (1985) and Sea of Glass (1986). Circus World (1981) seems like a fun series of linked short stories published in 1978 and 1979 about the descendants of a crashed circus ship.

2. My Poul Anderson collections grows and grows. Sometimes I’m not sure why I bother procuring them… I mean, it was only $1. See the index for my extensive (and apparently contentious) reviews of his work i.e. Tau Zero (1971). And eww, a gauzy cover by Gene Szafran….

3. A complete unknown—and Kathleen M. Sidney’s only SF novel (she wrote three additional short stories according to isfdb.org).

4. Vintage French SF in translation! With a fantastic cover by Max Ernst. In addition to writing SF, Philippe Curval produced fascinating photo collage SF cover art. I’ve featured his art previously on the site: Part I and Part II.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!


1. Circus World, Barry B. Longyear (1981)

(John Rush’s cover for the 1981 edition)


When the circus ship City of Baraboo crashed on Momus, the troupers of O’Hara’s Greater Shows turned a rockpile world into a showcase of razzle-dazzle. Generations of mimes and acrobats, barkers and freaks, fortune-tellers and magicians built a new civilization based on showmanship.

Then the Vorilian Council of Warlords decided that the circus world was a prime spot for a garrison, and brought in an armada to “liberate” Momus…”

“The Tryouts” (1978), “The Magician’s Apprentice,” (1978), “The Second Law” (1978), “Proud Rider” (1978), “Dueling Clowns” (1979), “The Quest” (1979), “Priest of the Baraboo” (1979).

2. The Corridors of Time, Poul Anderson (1965)

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “STORM was the name of the woman who came from out of time. She was as tall as a tall man, as beautiful as a classic statue…. and as tough as the bitter hatred of undying war. for war raged across the far centuries, unseen by those locked to the constant present, a far more important war than ever known by petty squabblers over the partition of some piece of territory. This war would determine the course of eternity… and whether or not there would be any men of Earth left to follow that course. But war could not be fought without weapons… and the most important weapon of all was a single man of the 20th century: Malcolm Lockridge—a convicted murderer. Lockridge was the key to the war between the Wardens and the Rangers… and Storm Darroway would force him into making bitter decisions no other man ad ever faced!”

3. Michael and the Magic Man, Kathleen M. Sidney (1980)

(Carlos Ochagavia’s cover for the 1st edition)


Nobody but the Magic Man. And Michael. And a few other footloose psychics in a supersleek van, driving through a fantastic American dreamscape in a nonstop, cross-country war with a mind-bending Power from beyond the stars…”

4. Brave OId World, Philippe Curval (1976, trans. 1981)

(Max Ernst’s cover for the 1981 edition)

From the inside flap: “It is the late twenty-first century and Marcom (a larger, far more technologically advanced Common Market) has been sealed behind impenetrable barriers for more than twenty years. Here scientists have learnt how to slow down time so that everyone can live seven times as long—a days lasts as long as a week in a slow time cabin.

But all is not well in this totalitarian utopia, where society is fragmented, dissidents and drop-outs live outside the cities in vast tracts of coutnryside abandeoned to nature, or are sent to “rehab centres” where no law except the law of survival prevails, where intruders are driven many by frontier “nerve disruptors” and where the dominant emotion is nostalgia, because the increasingly ambitious space-time experiments of Marcom threaten not just its own stability but the stability of the whole world.

A message for help from Leo Deryme, a man of extraordinary psychological powers, known as the “dream priests,” reaches the outside world and an agent from the ‘Devna League is sent over the border. This man, Belgacen Attia, has a double mission— to destroy the slow time technology and, for himself, to find the son he was forced to abandon when he was expelled from the Marcom twenty years before when the barriers were first brought down. Only a handful of people who ever escape from Marcom, but whether Belgacen Attia will be among them is far from certain.”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXVIII (Poul Anderson, Kathleen M. Sidney, Barry B. Longyear, Philippe Curval)

  1. This is the first ever moment I’ve seen Longyear linked to Gerrold! A quick whip thru the web reveals you’re looking at the novelization for the “Enemy Mine” movie. Veer off! Hard reverse! You want the original novelette done by Longyear alone. That version will be VASTLY more satisfying.

    I enjoy Barry Longyear, for the most part. His three “Circus World” volumes are all excellent (though “Elephant Song” is a later, more sober, inclusion). “Circus World” may be his lightest fare, scaling all the way down to the intensely bleak “Sea of Glass”. But, it’s always well-written!

  2. I actually like all of the covers, they all have a sense of surrealism to them. I grew up buying Gene Szafran’s covers on paperbacks. While liking them, I often thought them wildly inappropiate for the books that they illustrated. I was constantantly amazed by the amount of semi-nudity that they exhibited on mainstream paperbacks. The fourteen and fifteen year old me loved them. So shoot me. Different times.

  3. Well, I’m sixty-one now, so that fourteen-year-old is long gone now, but I was commenting about the times then. The fact that there was semi-nudity just goes to show how little sf was thought of at the time. Nobody cared enough to pay attention to the book covers that were sold to children back then. Just to show how much nobody cared about pop culture back then look at this comic cover: http://a54.idata.over-blog.com/2/45/65/19/album-5/album-6/creepy109.jpg. You don’t have to be Freud to see the subtext in this illustration, or this one: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/58/ef/ef/58efefbba29aa138fc732dcc6f5a80be–horror-comics-.jpg. Pop culture can be fun.

    • I would suggest though that simultaneously we have more “polished and stylized” artist like Richard Powers adding a different angle to SF covers at the time — but yes, there’s an uneasy balance between pulpy smut and stylish surrealism in SF art of the era.

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