If the universe is infinite, it follows that there may be somewhere real physical worlds that duplicate those of the imagination. And when Tom Carson caught sight of the third planet of 82 Eridani he recognized at once its resemblance to that imaginary Mars called “Barsoom” of the ancient novelist Burroughs.
Of course there were differences, but even so this planet was ruddy, criss-crossed with canals, and its inhabitants were redskinned, fought with swords, and had many things superficially in common with the fantasy Mars of the John Carter adventures.
But there were indeed vital variations that would eventually trip up the self-deceived science-fiction-reading travellers from 24th Century Earth. Therein hangs a tale that will delight and surprise everyone who enjoys the thrill of exploring a new world, especially one that seems peculiarly familiar.
Ballroom of the Skies by John D. MacDonald
Fawcett Gold Medal, 1968
Originally published in 1952
Price I paid: $1.25
Have you ever stopped to wonder why the world is eternally war-torn? Why men of good will, seeking only peace, are driven relentlessly to further disaster?
In Ballroom of the Skies, John D. MacDonald suggests a strange and monstrous explanation. He pictures an intricate and totally convincing future society, where India rules the globe, and everyone chases the mighty rupee. The First Atomic War has just ended, and already the Second is clearly building.
People shrug. War is man’s nature, they think. And that’s what Dake Lorin thought until he became aware of the aliens living among us—and discovered their sinister purpose.
Starsky and Hutch #6: The Psychic, adapted by Max Franklin
Spelling-Goldberg Productions, 1977
Price I paid: 50¢
HELP WANTED: A MENTALIST WITHOUT ANTS IN HIS TRANCE!
Two tough-as-nails jailbirds have snatched Joe Haymes’ beautiful daughter, and asked the football team owner for major-league bucks to get her back. He has signed up Starsky and Hutch to make an end run with the ransom—safely; one fumble and it could mean her life—unless the boys can find her first. Only a mind reader could solve this one, and the one they’ve got hasn’t a thought in his head!
Hey folks, I’m just popping in mid-week to point y’all to a blog post by author Syd Logsdon on the matter of jacket copy and book blurbs, a matter that is near and dear to my heart (it turns out). I enjoyed having an insider’s perspective on the matter, and I thought you might too! It’s good to know that they’ve historically been a plague on the writer as much as the reader.
Find it at his blog, which is chock full of good writerly stuff, serialized fiction, and other thoughts and sundry matters worth reading.
(Also, I know I mentioned it before, but I want to reiterate Cyan is very good.)