The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett Ace Books, 1967 Originally published in Space Stories, February 1953 Price I paid: $1.25
“A good story, with a very good characterization and flashes of an almost Merritteque poetry…
“The story concerns itself with THE BIG JUMP from this system to another sun—Barnard’s Star. The first expedition returned: one man alive, the others missing, and that one man dying of some ghastly sort of radiation sickness.
“Comyn, tough space-bum, sets out to find what happened to Paul Rogers, close friend of his…eventually making the second Big Jump himself. What he finds at the end is not only a brilliant science fiction gimmick, but good, solid writing.”
The Penetrator #17: Demented Empire by Lionel Derrick Pinnacle Books, 1976 Price I paid: 50¢
A crime and swindle operation syndicate has set up a weapons warehouse in Florida.
Five senior citizens are dead. They were conned out of their life’s savings on phony land deals and made the mistake of complaining. This mob is also distributing wholesale weaponry, ammunition, and drugs to any thief or psycho with money. Tony Rossi of La Cosa Nostra asks his old friend, Mark Hardin, to smash the Florida operation. And Mark is forced to help the Mafia against their non-Sicilian opponents because of their threat to innocent people!
Join the Penetrator as he wreaks havoc on organized crime: fighting from Florida to Guatemala to bust up the most insidious drug, gun, and swindle operation ever to threaten our national security!
Howdy, everybody! Sorry I’m not providing you with the usual proper content this week. I’ve got a big case of The Holidays and I just couldn’t muster up the time or energy to read anything. I thought it might be a fun idea to talk about what I’ve read over the course of the previous year instead, so here we go!
Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad Doubleday, 1983 Originally serialized in New Worlds, 1967-1968 Price I paid: $7
“Bugged…Then go bug Jack Barron!” cries the vidphone announcer every Wednesday night to the more than 100 million viewers watching Barron’s call-in show. And bug him they do. If there’s a gripe to air, an injustice to rectify, a cause to consider, Jack Barron will listen to it—if you can get through his gauntlet of screeners—and straight to the top, then and there, on the air. Whether it be a business bigwig or the President himself, no one is “out” when Jack Barron calls. Not with the entire nation watching. And no one is safe when Jack gets really bugged…
But the powers-that-be know they have nothing to really fear from Jack Barron. Jack used to be a hothead radical leader back in the sixties, but he gave up the poverty-stricken life of the activist to enter show biz. Now, as the country’s biggest celebrity, Jack’s not about to blow his goldmine job by skewering some biggie on the air. He may slip in a few well-placed barbs, but he’ll always make time for a convincing rebuttal from the other side.
Until one night Jack runs a show on multi-billionaire Benedict Howards’ Foundation for Human Immortality, a privately owned cryogenic “freeze now, live later” project—a show that might endanger the Foundation’s chance at a federally-sanctioned monopoly. Howards is no man to cross. One of the richest and most powerful men in America, he is ruthless in getting what—and whom—he wants. And now he wants Jack Barron.
Much to Jack’s surprise, Howards tries to buy him off when he could more easily have crushed his career. Suspicious, Jack finds his long-suppressed activist instincts aroused. Soon he uncovers hints of sinister activities by the Foundation—missing children, unexplained deaths—and when Howards tries to use Jack’s continuing love for his ex-wife, Sara, to get at him, the billionaire finds he’s taken on more than he bargained for. This is no vidphone entertainer worried about his job. This is the old firebrand Jack Barron. And when Jack Barron’s bugged, heads roll.
Warning: Sexual content and language may be offensive to some readers.
“Short in the Chest” by Idris Seabright from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight Belmont Science Fiction, 1968 Originally published in Fantastic Universe, July 1954 Price I paid: none
“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”
marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?
The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…
The Mercy Men by Alan E. Nourse Ace Books, 1984 Originally published in 1968 Price I paid: *A picture of Ronald Reagan saying “I don’t recall, mommy”*
It’s the 22nd century and mass mental illness is reaching epidemic proportions. At the Hoffman Medical Center, illegal brain research is performed on living subjects. The victims come as volunteers, already mad enough to risk their remaining sanity for the high prices Hoffman offers. These new-age mercenaries go by the ironic title of—
The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori Gateway/Orion, 2015 Originally published by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1819 Price I paid: 99¢
The Vampyre: A Tale is based on a fragment written by Lord Byron in 1816 during a gathering of author friends who, trapped inside due to bad weather, decided to write ghost stories. It was the first vampire story in English prose, and as such had a wide-ranging influence, almost single-handedly creating the now-popular image of the vampire as an aristocratic seducer.
Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander Square Fish, 2012 Originally published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1963 Price I paid: Having fun’s not hard/when you’ve got a library card
He doesn’t have nine lives, it’s true, but Gareth the cat is far from ordinary. For one thing, he can talk. What’s more, he has magical powers that even Jason hasn’t dreamed of.
“Anywhere, any time, any country, any century.” Gareth tells Jason he can take them traveling through time. And in a single wink of the eye, he does. From ancient Egypt to Japan, from the land of young leonardo da Vinci to the town of a woman accused of witchcraft, Jason and Gareth are whisked from place to place and friend to foe.
Full of excitement, discovery, and a world of intriguing history, Time Cat takes the imagination on an unforgettable ride—into nine amazing adventures in life.
After the Rain by John Bowen Ballantine Books, 1965 (Second edition) First edition published in 1959 Price I paid: 75¢
The British are a hardy island people. At least two aspects of this country are world-renowned—the astonishing number of high calibre writers they produce, and their climate.
AFTER THE RAIN is an impressive combination of both. In fact, Angus Wilson says:
“If you like cataclysmic novels John Bowen’s AFTER THE RAIN is as exciting as any deluge you can hope to find: but if you think deluges are twoo trivial, John Bowen has a surprise for you: his novel turns out to be a satire of the first order.”