Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXL (Melissa Scott, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Sheila MacLeod, and Albert J. Guerard)

1. I have yet to read anything by Melissa Scott — as is my habit, I start with a lesser known novel (in this case, her first one).

2. SF in translation from Brazil! Looks terrifying.

3. And I’m yet again the owner of another one of the worst SF covers. That said, Sheila MacLeod’s Xanthe and the Robots  (1977) seems to be an intriguing take on androids and the the nature of humanity.

4. A complete unknown author (wrote more mainstream lit than SF) and novel… According to SF encyclopedia, Albert Joseph Guerard’s only SF novel Night Journey (1950) “depicts an idealistic soldier against the background of a useless Near-Future European Future War. The loss of his illusions is rendered with psychological acuity, though the narrative itself is dithery.”

Count me intrigued.

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


1. The Game Beyond, Melissa Scott (1984)

(Alan Gutierrez’s cover for the 1st edition)

From the back cover: “A star-flung empire the price in a deadly war of succession.”

2. And Still the Earth, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão (1981, trans. Ellen Watson, 1985)

(Uncredited cover for the 1985 edition)

From the back cover: “UNDER THE THUMB OF THE SYSTEM. Welcom to São Paulo, Brazil, in the not to distant future. Water is scarce, garbage clogs the city, movement is restricted… and the System—sinister, omnipotent, secret—rules its subjects’ every moment, every pulsebeat, every thought. Here middle-ages Souza lives a meaningless life in a world where the future is doomed and the past is forbidden to be remembered. Souza wants to escape this society of enforced consumerism, bizarre happenings, and every-present propaganda. But there is no help from his wife who cannot be sure if their son ever existed or from his 23-year-old nephew, officer in the Mili-Tech, an army without emotions, without humanity. But one day Souza meets a former colleague now running an elevator, and everything changes… as this gripping journey to the absurd turns violent, explosive, and terrifyingly real.”

3. Xanthe and the Robots, Sheila MacLeod (1977)

(Adrian Chesterman’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “‘Xanthe is a member (Female) of a research team which is investigating the possibilities of humanoid robots, in a world of chaos and starvation… Two types of robot have been produced: the Pragmapractors, who do the conventional manual workd; and the Philophrenics, who have been programmed to more human levels, to feel affection, to talk, and even construct themselves. The question is: should they be allowed to go further? This is a remarkable story, beldning the best of both science fiction and the mainstream novel of character’ — Manchester Evening News.”

4. Night Journey, Albert J. Guerard (1950)

(Uncredited cover for the 1950 edition)

From the inside flap: “Betrayal, desertion, treason—these may be something more than acts of politics or acts of cowardice; they may be born o idealism and a high sense of loyalty. During an undeclared war, in a time of confusion and lies, Paul Haldan’s mission takes him back to the country of his childhood, and at last behind the enemy lines. Even when Haldan committed his first crime, he could say he was acting under orders. And when he was imprisoned in the great floodlit camp, it was at his own request. Of what, then, was he guilty?

With penetrating insight and great dramatic power the author of this tense novel of suspense and psychological mystery thus leads us into a terrifying future and into the divided heart of man.”

For book reviews consult the INDEX

For cover art posts consult the INDEX

10 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXL (Melissa Scott, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão, Sheila MacLeod, and Albert J. Guerard)

  1. Interesting…from Wikipedia:
    “His novels include Night Journey, which drew from his experience in psychological warfare intelligence during World War II.”
    I’d never heard of him, it, or in fact the publisher (Knopf) ever publishing any SF at all!
    Whee! I like utter novelty, it’s so rare at my age.

    • Oh hey! Are you in for a treat! No less a meanness factory than Kirkus (!) loved the book back in 1950:
      A compelling, prophetic adventure into the future world, a world not of startling technological change but of jaded moral and material decadence through the obscurity of long war. Idealistic young Sgt. Paul Haldan leaves his heroic commander to an almost certain death when he believes him to have been a traitor. Unable to assume the moral responsibility for his own actions, to accept the mixture of evil with good, Paul is forced into the frightening position of working as an underground agent behind the enemy lines where he feels certain he will meet his betrayed commander who had managed to escape from the death trap. Through an appallingly realistic background of ruined cities, feeling that he is the helpless victim of propaganda and military opportunism, Paul seeks to find and lay the ghost that haunts him. The problems, both philosophical and psychological, are of enduring importance set in an all too possible framework of the future which demands a judgment of the reader. An exciting adventure story which has both momentum and depth.

      • I saw that review! It seems far more positive than the SF Encyclopedia one. I’m very intrigued — I’m all for anti-war visions, scarred psychological and physical landscapes, etc.

  2. Hi

    This is great. I started And Still the Earth by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão but had to return it to the library I worked at and then moved to a different city. So while I remembered the rather striking cover image I could not remember the title or author although I have searched for it many times. The only other thing I remembered was it was a South American writer. Now i can track it down. I remember very little of the plot just that I wanted to try reading it again.


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