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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.
Although this was a low point in the ever-changing space career of the legendary John Grimes, it was not without its surprising moments. Between jobs, between loyalties, Grimes was owner and pilot of a small auxiliary vessel whose principal oddity was that it was made of gold. But precious metal or not, Grimes was running errands with it.
Until he fell into the clutches of terrorists. Susie and her comrades had a Cause and it was going to take all his efforts to keep the one thing he had to have―his ship.
Especially since they left the ship infested with a constantly increasing horde of mini-Susies―vicious little homunculi that looked exactly like their sexy prototype except that they were hungry, sharp-toothed, and their only Cause was to eat Grimes alive!
Chrome by George Nader
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978
Price I paid: none
In the future, there will be only one taboo: to love a robot. But in the desert hideaway where Chrome and the warrior King Vortex meet, a bond between man and machine is unknowingly taking shape. . . a bond that will ignite intergalactic violence and bring Earth once more to the brink of total destruction.
Preacher Mann is too much for the FBI and the CIA. He has dual citizenship and friends in diplomatic circles and he’s too powerful for the regular legal channels. He’s come a long way: from a pimp in Harlem he’s worked his way to the top―of the rackets. He’s into international dope, espionage―and now, in his orgy palace off the Florida coast he’s onto a new wrinkle!
The most beautiful women in the country are systematically vanishing. And Preacher Mann is holding them on ice―literally. He’s freezing them until needed―to be shipped to the highest bidder.
Only one man can defrost the situation―the Penetrator. He must succeed where others have failed. One man on a mission that’s too cool to handle!
His name was Archer and he thought he was an ordinary man. The collectors of panorama eggs knew better. For Archer was such a collector, and there was a very special find awaiting him: the panorama egg that contained a world.
He was guided in the use of that incredible masterwork by the enigmatic grey woman, Mera Melaklos. That was her name in this everyday world. But her real name could have been something else beyond this space-time continuum.
For indeed Archer and the grey woman crossed into a world that was not Earth, found they had special roles to play in a land where alternate science reigned and a mission of heroism was the price of existence.
THE PANORAMA EGG is a novel of strange enchantment and mystery, and of a man who wanted and found an end to a humdrum 20th century existence.
To Escape the Stars by Robert Hoskins
Del Rey, 1978
Price I paid: 75¢
…when freesailer, plunderer Jamas Oregas and his beautiful business partner set out to bilk the unsuspecting denizens of the backwater planet Llango.
IT GOT COMPLICATED…
…when Jamas, who knew the ins and outs of stargates, was doublecrossed and had to disappear―and fast.
IT MOVED INTO HIGH GEAR…
…when Jamas landed on Prime―a repository planet of galactic history―and learned of a mysterious lost race that held the master key to all the stargates for all the worlds.
AND IT FINALLY EXPLODED…
…when Jamas himself decided to scour the galaxy, looking for that long-lost race, following a trail that would lead him to power beyond his wildest dreams―if he somehow managed to stay alive!
LATE OF THE WESTERN WORLD
Then how can the late Poet Laureate’s words be coming through the Interlink? And what horror could have caused him to leave this safe, gentle world of his own free will?
THEY PUT THE BALL AGAINST MY EAR
AND LET ME HEAR THE SLUG.
Alexander Blunt, the complete conformist, the tame poet of the Freeman state. Can the benevolent Freeman be a murderer? So say the messages from the dead.
I AM ONE WITH THE DEER AND THE JAGUAR.
Blunt journeys to the mysterious Bellerophon, in the western mountains, where ancient rebels have come back to life, where an aged Mexican sorceress can control events…and where awesome powers gather strength for the coming struggle.
I WANT REVENGE, ALEXANDER…
The landing was unlike any they had ever made. But then they had never before seen a planet so strange as this one—with its wild seas, scarred plains, and rubbled cities. It looked as if it had been totally devastated by some type of nuclear destruction.
And they were most curious—these aliens with their green-scaled faces and stubby tails—to explore this peculiar place where man had once existed…until their ship exploded and they were stranded with no means of survival and no hope of rescue.
Unless their high priest—Ama of the Keelong—prayed to the higher power they had rebelled against. For this was a spiritual mission…and the Alcoran had lost their way…
That familiar byline on millions of copies of Executioner novels has now become a guarantee of the most exciting writing in a whole new category of hard-hitting adventure fiction.
Don Pendleton had written more than thirty books before writing the first book in the Executioner series, War Against the Mafia, a few years ago. That was the start of what is now America’s hottest action series. With thirty-two volumes complete and three more on the drawing board, Don has little time for writing anything but Executioner books. Each book is written in about six weeks as Don simultaneously gathers and directs the research for upcoming adventures.
A much-decorated veteran of World War II, Don saw action in the North Atlantic U-boat wars, the invasion of North Africa, and the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He later led a team of naval scouts, who landed in Tokyo preparatory to the Japanese surrender. As if that weren’t enough, he went back for more in Korea, too!
Before turning to full-time duty at the typewriter, Don held down positions as a railroad telegrapher, air traffic controller, aeronautical systems engineer, and even had a hand in the early ICBM and Moonshot programs.
He’s the father of six and now makes his home in a small town in Indiana. He does his writing amidst a unique collection of weapons, photos, and books—usually half-buried in research, news clippings, and maps. Whether it’s Boston, Cleveland, or Nashville, you’ll get the feeling Don and Mack were there.
It was the contention of one galactic historian that similar planets must have similar histories. It was the contention of another that this did not imply identical histories. The challenge could only be settled by actual testing in the infinity of the cosmos.
The computer came up with the story of Joan of Arc on the Planet Earth. Programmed anew, it produced a similar world, the Planet Noldaz of Sigma 32, with a human race rising from medievalism among whom a maid would appear to lead her country’s knights on a war of liberation.
The question: was she inevitably doomed to die at the stake, as Joan had before her? Did identical situations always mean identical conclusions?
Pierre Barbet, master of alternative histories and parallel worlds, spins a marvelous science fiction novel out of one of the great enigmas of history.