Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXXII (James Tiptree, Jr., Allen F. Wold, Nova Anthology, and non-fiction on Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies)

As always, which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Warm Worlds and Otherwise, James Tiptree, Jr. (1975)

From the back cover: “A DOZEN FABULOUS TALES OF INNER VISIONS AND OUTER SPACE…

LOVE IS THE PLAN, THE PLAN IS DEATH (Nebula-Award Winner—Best Short Story 1973)

Courtship rites can easily run amok, especially when that’s what’s supposed to happen… especially when the creatures are color-coded for passion as well as for death!

THE GIRL WHO WAS PLUGGED IN

(Hugo-Award Winner—Best Novella 1974)

What comes after a failed suicide attempt? For lucky, but monstrous P. Burke, it’s a chance to live again as an extraordinary beauty.

ALL THE KINDS OF YES

He was just a happy-go-lucky alien, looking for a world on which to do his thing. But his quiet deception soon panicked Washington—and his very presence threatened Earth!

—And lots more…”

Contents: “All the Kinds of Yes” (1972), “The Milk of Paradise” (1972), “And I Have Come Upon This Place of Lost Ways” (1972), “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain” (1969), “Amberjack” (1972), “Through a Lass Darkly” (1972), “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973), “The Night-blooming Saurian” (1970), “The Women Men Don’t See” (1973), “Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death” (1973), “On the Last Afternoon” (1972)

Initial Thoughts: What a horrifying (and amazing) Michael Herring cover for a collection of stories by one of my favorite SF authors, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon). In the past I’ve read, but never reviewed, Tiptree Jr.’s collection Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973) and written reviews for four short stories on the site:

I’m excited to read more!

My 1979 edition of Warm Worlds contains a postscript to the original 1974 intro article “Who Is Tiptree, What Is He?” by Robert Silverberg where he records his reaction to the discovery of the person behind the Tiptree, Jr. pseudonym.

2. The Planet Masters, Allen L. Wold (1979)

From the inside flap: “Larson Mccade, wandering grandson of a nameless refugee, has come to the decadent planet of Seltique, culturally isolated from the rest of the galaxy after its bid for political mastery two thousand years ago. He claims to be researching a pro-galaxy group known as The Core, which was exterminated in an historic revolution, and makes several powerful friends–including an attractice young lady named Valyn Dixon—along the way. But Mccade is actually looking for The Book or Ardka, a non-human artifact that could make him a wealthy man for the rest of his life, and the only way he can find it is to divulge the lost secrets of the Planet Masters.

Allen Wold has written one of the most imaginative first novels to appear in recent years. THE PLANET MASTERS describes a highly structured society which parodies our own desperate thirst for status: promotion on Seltique is achieved by cultural contributions and ritual murder; social classes are numbered and rigidly immobile; members of one class freely abuse members of the class below them. Larson McCade is willing to risk his life for power, but on a planet like Seltique, he just might get more than he is bargaining for…”

Initial Thoughts: A complete unknown author and novel… SF Encyclopedia’s blurb is neutral in its appraisal: “The Planet Masters (1979), is set on a strangely ornate and enervated colony planet, where a human adventurer is searching for an artefact whose discovery may expose the secret behind the world’s palpable Decadence.”

I don’t know what to expect.

3. Nova 1, ed. Harry Harrison (1970)

From the back cover: “A GIANT NEW STEP IN SCIENCE FICTION

You will not have read any of the stories in this book in any magazine or anthology. All are original contributions, personally selected by Harry Harrison, himself an outstanding SF writer as well as one of the most knowing authoritiesi n the SF world. Each of these tales—whether by an already renowned name, or by one of the exciting new SF generation—is designed to expand the frontiers of the imagination, and hold you spellbound with some of the greatest writing of today, and tomorrow.”

Contents (all but Mitchison’s were published in 1970): Robin Scott Wilson’s “The Big Connection, Robert Silverberg’s “A Happy Day in 2381,” Barry N. Malzberg’s “Terminus Est,” Chan Davis’ “Hexamnion,” John R. Pierce’s “The Higher Things,” Brian W. Aldiss’ “Swastika!” Gene Wolfe’s “The Horars of War,” David Gerrold’s “Love Story in Three Acts,” Gordon R. Disckson’s “Jean Duprès,” Barry N. Malzberg’s “In the Pocket,” Naomi Mitchison’s “Mary and Joe” (1962), Donald E. Westlake’s “The Winner,” James Sallis’ “Faces & Hands,” Piers Anthony’s “The Whole Truth”

Initial Thoughts: Nova 1 (1970) was originally on my “to acquire” list due to Naomi Mitchison’s short story. I adored Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962). Filled with works by my favorites—Malzberg, Aldiss, Silverberg, and Gene Wolfe. I have yet to explore Robin Scott Wilson’s SF.

4. High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies, Erik Davis (2019)

From the back cover: “Welcome to the weird…

A study of the spiritual provocations found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence Mckenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, HEIGH WEIRDNESS charts the emergence of a new psychedelic worldview out of the American Counterculture of the seventies. These three visionaries changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality—but how did their own writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America during one of its most surreal eras?

In HIGH WEIRDNESS, Erik Davis–America’s leading scholar of the strange—examines the writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own extraordinary, life-changing experiences. Along the way, Davis maps the uncanny lattice of culture and consciousness that characterized America’s West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social change. What results is a new theory of the weird that illuminates the seventies, while providing for a renewed engagement with reality during our own highly weird times.”

Initial Thoughts: I rarely reference the substantial non-fiction (mostly history) that I consume (1/2 to 2/3rds of what I read). I read compulsively to improve my courses (I teach university-level history survey courses) and as its my original obsession (medieval history PhD by training). I thought I’d include in my acquisition posts those that I procure related to SF or SF adjacent topics. Erik Davis’s High Weirdness considers PKD’s famous 2-3-74 experiences within the larger visionary landscape of the American West Coast in the 70s. I must confess, I am far more interested in the non-PKD sections of the monograph. This promises to be a weird trip!


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26 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLXXII (James Tiptree, Jr., Allen F. Wold, Nova Anthology, and non-fiction on Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies)

  1. “Drug litt”: I am just reading De Quincey ;
    Confessionss of an English Opium Eater.
    (Version 1821). Thats a classic!

    • I’ve read chunks of that. I’ve always wanted to talk about opium in my World History course in context of the Opium Wars.

      Definitely purchased High Weirdness due to my interest in the American Counterculture.

  2. DeQuincey is well worth reading in full because it is WAY TRIPPY and very weird to think the drug that elicited this literary, um, master-something was LEGAL until early in the 20th century.

    VATHEK is also interesting in the context of hallucination-generated fiction.

    • Yeah, the history of Opium in America (the its connection race and policy) is quite fascinating. I think what interests me in this volumes is the attempt to place PKD in a large dialogue of 70s mystical experiences/concerns that were localized on the West Coast. We’ll see what he does it it!

  3. I have the Tiptree collection, WARM WORLDS, and bought it when it came out. It was her second and probably her best overall, unless you count the retrospective HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER. (And I’d argue there are important Tiptree stories that putative best-of collection omits.)

    WARM WORLDS contains almost all the major stories that made SF readers at the time realize that this was a major talent, with the exception of ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side,’ which went into the first Tiptree collection, TEN THOUSAND LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME (1973).

    There would be one more estimable Tiptree collection, STAR SONGS OF AN OLD PRIMATE, in 1978. After that, although she didn’t blow her husband’s and her own brains out till 1987 and there would be more books, her writing went downhill. The public disclosure that Tiptree was really Alice Sheldon, a woman, really did seem to have hurt her ability to write. Strange person.

    NOVA ONE I read. I don’t remember the contents of the stories, except for the Wolfe, “HORARS of War,” which is very minor early Wolfe. I think that rather than that being a commentary on my memory, my lack of recall is because of how bland and ‘meh’ all the stories in it were, despite the list of authors. Probably the nearest to being a significant story there is the Silverberg, which is a portion of his novel, THE WORLD INSIDE, and best read as part of that novel

    Erik Davis, huh?
    http://techgnosis.com/

    As for Allan Wold, “I salute your indefatigability,” as George Galloway said to Saddam Hussein. If Wold is a “complete unknown author and novel,” based on the plot precis you quote I suspect that it’s with very good reason. Anyway, certainly unknown to me.

    • It was a pricey collection! Which prevented me from buying it earlier…

      Unfortunately, I read Ten Thousand Light Years from Home too long ago to have distinct memories. That said, I read it for a graduate group I had at the time (around 2009) that discussed SF in coffee houses around town. So I have found memories of the conversations and friendships that revolved around the book. We read Russ The Female Man and Delany’s Nova for our reading series as well (I remember both of those far better). All three I couldn’t end up reviewing for the site!

      While I am in no way connecting myself to Tiptree, Jr. in a substantive way, my pseudonym helps me write. I get the concept of another constructed persona.

      Re-Wold: Who knows! And SF Encyclopedia frequently summarizes works without having read them which I suspect creates the often neutral assessment.

  4. JB wrote: …my pseudonym helps me write. I get the concept of another constructed persona.

    I’ve used pseudonyms myself when I was a journalist. Initially for purely practical reasons, but I came to understand exactly what you mean.

    JB wrote: We read Russ The Female Man and Delany’s Nova for our reading series as well)

    Along with Tiptree’s TEN THOUSAND LIGHT YEARS, great SF that lit up my mental life when I was a kid.

    In fact, Gary Wolfe’s recent Library of America collection, AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION: EIGHT CLASSIC NOVELS OF THE 1960s ….
    https://loa.org/books/617-american-science-fiction-eight-classic-novels-of-the-1960s-boxed-set
    … reminded me that it wasn’t just a case of “the golden age of SF is twelve” (or sixteen or eighteen or whatever young age it was when you first came upon the stuff). At the risk of being thought an old fart, it seems to me that the best of that era’s SF shows a lot more in the way of ideas and fierce thinking — of live mind — and also good writing, than almost anything coming out in the genre these days. There was plenty of dross, too, but PKD was still writing and Gene Wolfe was just getting into gear.

    I’ve never thought of it before, but I guess I was lucky to read those books when they were fresh.

    • Oh, I was in graduate school. So I was around 22 when I first encountered Tiptree, Jr.

      All my serious SF reading and writing happened in my early 20s when I started this site. While I had read SF for a few years, fantasy was the primarily primary diet of my teens.

  5. It has been so long since I have read Warm Worlds that it has mostly faded from memory. Mostly that is, except for The Women Men Don’t See, which is one of my favorite short stories of any genre. I’ve always read it as a rebuke to Hemingway, but that may be too narrow a take on it. I envy your reading it for the first time.

    • Hello Scott, thanks for stopping by!

      I look forward to reading that one. I am a big fan of her short fiction.

      Have you tried to read and of her novels? Up the Walls of the World (1978) for example?

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