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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.
OFFICER X-127 IS 4000 FEET UNDERGROUND
He is safe from nuclear war…safe from sunshine, blue skies, and love. His perpetual assignment is the Bomb―to stand guard ready to push the button that will turn the world into a charred ember of smoking death…
“A superior adventure-mystery about the strangely assorted crew of men and women, snatched out of their lives by emissaries from the far future, who fight and scheme to change the structure of time and history. Two unseen forces are at war in the Big Time, the enemy Snakes and the Spiders. The plot has suspense, but it is the personalities of the participants in the Change War, and the concept of the War itself that is fascinating.”
―P. Schuyler Miller, Analog
The giant, disk-shaped world of Mesklin was an Earthman’s nightmare―so cold that the seas were liquid methane and the snow frozen ammonia, with crushing gravity up to 700 times that of Earth. No human being could explore Mesklin’s surface.
Yet―a desperately needed research rocket was down on Mesklin. Someone had to go after it. That someone was the strangest explorer ever to appear in science-fiction―the Mesklinite merchant seaman, Barlennan―fifteen inches long, thirty-six legs, weighing hundreds of pounds. And, as it turned out, the sharpest trader an Earthman ever met!
The year 1953 is a hallowed one to such connoisseurs of science fiction as Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Brian W. Aldiss, Judith Merril and Damon Knight. It was in that year that a novel called THE ROSE appeared in the British magazine, Authentic SF. It was only the second novel by the American Charles Harness, but he was already a highly regarded writer by those in the know. It was also, unfortunately, his last, until his recent resumption of writing and the publication of a long-awaited new novel, THE RING OF RITORNEL. (Available as a Berkley paperback, X1630)
THE ROSE depicts an ultimate confrontation between science and art, brilliantly and wittily played out between three unforgettable leading characters:
Anna van Tuyl—a composer and also a practicing psychiatrist
Ruy Jacques—Anna’s lover
Martha—Ruy’s wife, who is perfecting a deadly weapon that will render science supreme over art
Here, at last, is a U.S. edition of this superb SF novel, an exciting event for all admirers of little-known science fiction gems.
MARS—a million years ago…
MARS—Planet of science-lords and man-monsters…
MARS—world of mystery and marvels…
Into this lost world plunged Matt Carse, explorer of interplanetary ruins, to find himself inhabiting the body of a mythical “god” and slated to fight that immortal’s battles all over again—this time with the knowledge of Earth’s unborn future as his sole scientific secret.
Leigh Brackett’s THE SWORD OF RHIANNON is an epic of interplanetary adventure by a writer comparable only to Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Jimmy Holden was an experiment…
He was normally bright, normal-sized, and enormously curious—just like most small boys. The only thing different in Jimmy’s life was a machine—a machine which could teach him better, faster, more completely and more thoroughly than any human method yet devised.
It was really nothing more than a glorified memorizing contraption, but it filled the mind permanently with whole books of fact and figure—readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic—plus all the diverse information that an insatiably curious young mind could seek, including how to build the machine that taught him.
So Jimmy quickly became a very valuable experiment indeed. Certain people figured that, properly handled, young James could be a goldmine, and they weren’t above murdering in order to get control of him. But even a five-year-old mind will defend itself when attacked.
And nobody had figured on what the machine did not teach—the fourth “R”—REASON…