Which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?
1. They’d Rather Be Right, Mark Clifton and Frank Riley (1954)
Inside page blurb: “They’d rather be right!
They tried to smash ‘Bossy’ the super-computer. Joe Carter and his strange friends saved the machine–but that really wasn’t necessary. You can’t smash an idea–and the idea was bound to grow again anyway. But people can hate an idea….
They’d rather be right!
It was said long ago that the price of immortality is rebirth–and that is a price few have ever been willing to pay. Given the chance…
They’d rather be right!
They could have eternal youth–at a price. But the ultimate frustration lay in this: only the bums, the ner’do-wells, could bring themselves to pay that price! As for the rest…
They’d rather be right!
‘Bossy’ had dreams for sales. The dreams of the ages could be realized! If… you’d give up one half, and alter the other half beyond recognition.
Would you rather be right?”
Initial Thoughts: The worst pre-1990 Hugo winning novel? Debate!
I read this as an older teen although my copy has long since disappeared and my memory of it is null.
2. Starburst, Alfred Bester (1958)
From the inside page: “Bester at His Best
Strange and starling stories… lighting-quick dialogue… a crackling style that keeps the action moving almost faster than the story can be read–these are the trademarks of Alfred Bester, one of the most inventive authors in the field today.
Here, for the first time in book form, is a galaxy of Bester’s outstanding stories, including: Fondly Fahrenheit: a killer robot and his master flee from the planetary police.. Disappearing Act: a U.S. army hospital is faced with an insolvable problem–patients who disappear and reappear at will… Of Time and Third Avenue: a 1950 man comes into possession of a 1990 almanac, and fins that in order to keep it he must match wits with a man from the future… Oddy and Id: a charming but diabolical monster has the power to rule the world… The Roller Coaster: a girl from the future has an affair with a twentieth-century man… Adam and No Eve: he was the last man on earth, the sole survivor of a total, chain-reaction holocaust.”
Contents: “Disappearing Act” (1953), “Adam and No Eve” (1941), “Star Light, Star Bright” (1953), “The Roller Coaster” (1953), “Oddy and Id” (1950), “The Starcomber” (variant title: “5,271,009”) (1958), “Travel Diary” (1958), “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954), “Hobson’s Choice” (1952), “The Die-Hard” (1958), “Of Time and Third Avenue” (1951)
Initial Thoughts: I recently read a fascinating interview of Bester in Hell’s Cartographers: Some Personal Histories of Science Fiction Writers (1975), ed. Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison. He describes his bizarre meeting with John W. Campbell, Jr. (1910-1971) ostensibly over the publication of “The Devil’s Invention” (variant title: “Oddy and Id”) (1950) (which appears in the his collection). Interviews often inspire me to track down more of an author’s work — and so I did! While I’ve read Bester’s The Demolished Man (1952) and The Stars My Destination (1956), I’ve only reviewed his collection The Dark Side of the Earth (1964) on the site.
3. Web of the Witch World, Andre Norton (1964)
From the back cover: “Simon Tregarth, whose own Earthly prowess had won him a throne and a witch-wife in an alien world. ,knew that both triumphs were precarious as long as the super-science of Kolder held a foothold on that planet.
And his premonitions were right when those invaders from another dimension made their final diabolical strike for total conquest.
Andre Norton’s WEB OF THE WITCH WORLD is a terrific novel of scientific marvel, other-world color, and sword-and-sorcery action that will thrill delight every reader.”
Initial Thoughts: I’ve read only a few Andre Norton novels over the years. I still have yet to start her Witch World series. I bought the first volume back in 2011! And it remains unread…
4. Year of Consent, Kendell Foster Crossen (1954)
Back cover: “It is only 36 years from now. The streets, the buildings, the fields look just as they do today. And the people look the same–until you get close enough to see the bland, vacant stare in their eyes, to hear the empty, guarded quality of their voices.
They are victims of a gigantic con game. Free will, the right of dissent have been washed away in a sea of slogans coined by the public-relations manipulators who have taken over the government. the rare ones who momentarily forget they are no longer individuals have their symptoms recorded by an enormous mechanical brain in Washington. The real dissenters, the incorrigible revels, have their ‘sickness’ cured by a simply surgical operation…
This is the year of consent. And this is the story of a man who fought back.”
Initial Thoughts: Unknown author and book… Here’s his SF Encyclopedia entry.
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