Detail from Darrel K. Sweet’s cover for the 1st paperback edition of The Best from Cordwainer Smith (1975)
Today’s installment of my occasional Monday Maps and Diagrams series is a self-reminder that I must get over the poor taste left in my mouth by two forgettable Cordwainer Smith short stories and dive into the meat of his Instrumentality of Mankind sequence. Which should I have read?
I’m a sucker for future history timelines (Olaf Stapledon, Robert A. Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov come to mind). They add a sense of time and scope to what, at first glance, might seem like disparate pieces. I often wonder how much an author plans out a timeline. This one, scanned from The Best of Cordwainer Smith (1975), places each of the Instrumentality of Mankind stories into a functional timeline. I’m assuming it adds to the series’ sense of historical development and societal evolution?
Let me know what you think of the series and the timeline in the comments!
John J. Pierce’s timeline (he wrote the intro article) in the 1975 Ballantine Paperback edition
Isfdb.org note on the timeline’s publication history: “There are (at least) 2 variants of this timeline. A table version titled The Instrumentality of Mankind appears in the original July 1975 Nelson Doubleday hardcover. A reformatted graphical version titled Timeline from THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF MANKIND appears in Continue reading
1. Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella, The Word for World is Forest, first appeared in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) anthology before a stand-alone publication. I seem to remember reading it as a kid…. But…. the memories are vague.
2. Cordwainer Smith and I have never really seen eye to eye (I wanted to rhyme). I’m all for acquiring more of his collections just in case!
3. From Wikipedia: “H. G. Wells lauded [M. P. Shiel’s] The Purple Cloud as ‘brilliant’ and H. P. Lovecraft later praised the novel as exemplary weird fiction, ‘delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty.'”
The Richard Powers cover is one of his best of the 60s.
4. John Varley, another author whom I’ve yet to read despite owning numerous of his collections and novels…. Millennium (1983) seems, well, suspicious? Time travel, airplanes, dystopic futures, love affairs across time. We shall see!
…and it was turned into a film in 1989.
Note: the images are hi-res scans. Click to enlarge.
As always, comments and tangents are welcome!
1. The Word for World is Forest, Ursula K. Le Guin (anthology publication 1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading
Little pleases me more than reading the fascinating cross-section of the genre presented by anthologies from my favorite era of SF (1960s/70s). After the success that was World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (variant title: World’s Best Science Fiction: Third Series) (1967), ed. Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr, I decided to browse my “to post” pile of recent acquisitions and share a handful with you all. As is often the case, the collections are peppered with stories I’ve already read—I’ve linked the relevant reviews.
Filled with authors I haven’t read yet—Stephen Tall, Robin Scott, Roderick Thorp, Jean Cox, Christopher Finch, etc.
…and of course, many of my favorites including Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Barry N. Malzberg, and Kate Wilhelm (among many many others).
Scans are from my collection.
1. The 1972 Annual World’s Best SF, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (1972)
(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading
Including a Richard Powers’ cover that might be among my favorites as it has a delightful architectural feel…. Do you have a favorite Powers?
I must fill the hole that is my lack of knowledge about Cordwainer Smith. A source of many arguments!
Rachel S. Cordasco recently reviewed three stories by French women SF authors pre-1969 and I decided to track down the same collection. And yes, the back cover is filled with purple prose… Plus hilarious back cover font which I will feature in a SF cover art post in the near future.
And another John Carnell anthology in his New Writings in SF series. I featured the artist a few months ago here.
All the covers are scans of my own copies — if you click on the images you can see them in high resolution.
1. Bill, The Galactic Hero, Harry Harrison (1964)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition) Continue reading
I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of science fiction books from the classics to the not so classic. I’ve decided to use this blog as motivation to read new books. Hence, reviews of Dune (Herbert), Hyperion (Simmons), Stand on Zanzibar (Brunner) and other major works probably will not reviewed in the near future since I’ve read them already and until I run out of things to read I’m not inclined to read them Continue reading