Nerves

Nerves by Lester del Rey
from The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction ed. Asimov, Waugh, Greenberg
Carroll & Graf, 1989
Originally published in Astounding, September 1942
Price I paid: $3

During the 1940s, the great names emerged in an eruption of talent. They formed the mould for the next three decades of science fiction and their writing is as fresh today as it was then.

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Planet of the Apes

Cover to the 1966 Penguin edition | isfdb.org

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Translated from the French by Xan Fielding
Vanguard Press, 1963
Price I paid: none

“I am confiding the manuscript to space, not with the intention of saving myself, but to help, perhaps, to avert the appalling scourge that is menacing the human race. Lord have pity on us!”

With these words, Pierre Boulle hurtles the reader onto the Planet of the Apes. In this simian world, civilization is turned upside down: apes are men and men are apes; apes rule and men run wild; apes think, speak, produce, wear clothes, and men are speechless, naked, exhibited at fairs, used for biological research. On the planet of the apes, man, having reached the apotheosis of his genius, has become inert.

To this planet come a journalist and a scientist. The scientist is put into a zoo, the journalist into a laboratory. Only the journalist retains the spiritual strength and creative intelligence to try to save himself, to fight the appalling scourge, to remain a man.

Out of this situation, Pierre Boulle has woven a tale as harrowing, bizarre, and meaningful as any in the brilliant roster of this master storyteller. With his customary wit, irony, and disciplined intellect and style, the author of The Bridge Over the River Kwai tells a swiftly moving story dealing with man’s conflicts, and takes the reader into a suspenseful and strangely fascinating orbit.

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The Sign of the Thunderbird

The Sign of the Thunderbird by Ron Montana
Manor Books, 1977
Price I paid: $7

FINDING HELL IN A HOLOCAUST…

…Captain Eason and Private Fox are blown from present time and space and hurled into the past.

Trading plutonium bombs for bows and arrows, the two fight their own army to lead an Indian uprising. They know the violence of yesteryear has led to an annihilation of the future and learn blood spilt for peace is blood spilt in vain. But they battle against history for justice and survival, knowing they can never win!

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The Weapons Shop

The Weapons Shop by A.E. van Vogt
from The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction ed. Asimov, Waugh, Greenberg
Carroll & Graf, 1989
Originally published in…okay so that’s kinda complicated and I’ll get to it below
Price I paid: $3

During the 1940s, the great names emerged in an eruption of talent. They formed the mould for the next three decades of science fiction and their writing is as fresh today as it was then.

Continue reading “The Weapons Shop”

Time Wants a Skeleton

Time Wants a Skeleton by Ross Rocklynne
from The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction ed. Asimov, Waugh, Greenberg
Carroll & Graf, 1989
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1941
Price I paid: $3

During the 1940s, the great names emerged in an eruption of talent. They formed the mould for the next three decades of science fiction and their writing is as fresh today as it was then.

Continue reading “Time Wants a Skeleton”

Times Without Number

The cover of this novel features a futuristic Spanish conquistador standing in front of a futuristic device.

Times Without Number by John Brunner
Ace Books, 1962
Price I paid: $6.99 ÷ 2

Traveling backwards in time, Don Miguel had to undo the errors and interruptions of other time-interlopers; he had to preserve the present. Even the most insignificant nudging of the past could entirely alter his world! And he suspected that this had already happened: that a maniacal genius crazed with a desire for nationalist vindication had plotted to alter the victorious outcome of the Spanish Armada of 1588—thus changing recorded history and perhaps even imperiling the mighty Spanish Empire of 1988!

If Don Miguel did not successfully intercede, when he came back to the present he might find a different world…a different time…a time in which he probably didn’t even exist!

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Destiny’s Orbit

Destiny’s Orbit by David Grinnell
Ace Books, 1961
Price I paid: $6.99 (although you could half that because it’s an Ace Double?)

Though Ajax Calkins was wealthy enough to buy anything on Earth his heart desired, the one thing he wanted most was strictly forbidden. That was a world of his own—a planet, however small, which would be his private kingdom in the sky. The Earth-Mars Space Administration stood in his path. They would tolerate no such Eighteenth Century derring-do in the commercial and workaday interplanetary channels of the Twenty-First Century. Empire-building was out.

But when an offer from a bearded stranger opened the way to just such an adventure, Ajax leapt at the chance. In his luxury spacecraft Destiny he shot out through the inner planets to the tiny world that waited a king—and, unwittingly to a monster outer-planet empire that waited a detonator for a cosmic war.

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The Road to Mars

Cover image from isfdb.org

The Road to Mars: A Post-Modem Novel by Eric Idle
Pantheon Books, 1999
Price I paid: Some Amazon funny-money

What makes humans bark?
Is the funny bone funny?
What is the algebra of comedy?
Did the sitcom originate with the ape?

Carlton is an android (a 4.5 Bowie Artificial Intelligence Robot) who works for Alex and Lewis, two comedians from the twenty-second century who travel the outer vaudeville circuit of the solar system known ironically as the Road to Mars. His problem is that although as a computer he cannot understand irony, he is attempting to write a thesis about comedy, its place in evolution, and whether it can ever be cured. And he is also studying the comedians of the late twentieth century (including obscure and esoteric acts such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus) in his search for the comedy gene.

In the meantime, while auditioning for a gig on the Princess Di (a solar cruise ship), his two employers inadvertently offend the fabulous diva Brenda Woolley and become involved in a terrorist plot against Mars, the home of Showbiz.

Can Carlton prevent Alex and Lewis from losing their gigs, help them overcome the love thing, and finally understand the meaning of comedy in the universe? Will a robot ever really be able to do stand-up? As Einstein might have said, nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of laughter.

from the jacket flap
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The Godmakers

The Godmakers by Don Pendleton
Pinnacle Books, 1974
Originally published in 1970
Price I paid: none

Patrick Honor was possessed by PPS, Psychic Power Sources, which led him, even though he could not understand them. Beyond understanding was feeling, beyond feeling was knowing. Patrick Honor knew only that he had to go on.

He had to explore the unknown, to escape his body, to travel to the root octave of the Ninth Parallax. And he had to find Octavia, the unearthly beauty who beckoned him from another world.

There was so much to learn. What was the real power source? Was it sex, or science, or…love? What was the meaning of the number nine? Why was the President of the United States going to die on June 15, 1975?

Eighty-one days, exactly, after Patrick Honor’s death!

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Dare

Dare by Philip José Farmer
Ballantine books, 1965
Price I paid: $1 or 2, can’t remember

Jack Cage lived on the planet Dare. He knew that he was human, and that he was the oldest son of a wealthy human farmer. But he hardly dared admit to himself, let alone to his family, the keen interest he felt in the ‘native’ inhabitants of Dare—those spectacularly beautiful humanoid creatures whose magnficent hair, growing clear down to the base of the spine, had given them their name of “horstel.”

It was death for any human to consort with any horstel after they became adult. For the humans of Dare still lived by the standards and mores of three hundred years before when they had been mysteriously whisked away from Earth and brought to this new planet.

Except that Jack Cage suspected this was no mystery to the horstels…

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