The Mummy!

Title page of the 1828 second edition/Wikipedia.

The Mummy!: A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century by Jane Webb
University of Michigan Press, 1994
Originally published anonymously by Henry Colburn, London, 1827
Price I paid: none (library)


Within a decade of the 1818 publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, another Englishwoman invented a foundational work of science fiction. Seventeen-year-old Jane Webb Loudon took up the theme of reanimation, moved it three hundred years into the future, and applied it to Cheops, an ancient Egyptian mummy. Unlike Shelley’s horrifying, death-dealing monster, this revivified creature bears the wisdom of the ages and is eager to share his insights with humanity. Cheops boards a hot-air balloon and travels to 22nd-century England, where he sets about remedying the ills of a corrupt government.

In recounting Cheops’ attempts to put the futuristic society to rights, the young author offers a fascinating portrait of the preoccupations of her own era as well as some remarkably prescient predictions of technological advances. The Mummy! envisions a world in which automatons perform surgery, undersea tunnels connect England and Ireland, weather-control devices provide crop irrigation, and messages are transmitted with the speed of cannonball fire. The first novel to feature the concept of a living mummy, this pioneering tale offers an engaging mix of comedy, politics, and science fiction.

From the back of the 2017 Dover edition
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The Overman Culture

The Overman Culture by Edmund Cooper
Berkley Medallion, 1972
Price I paid: 25¢

A REAL SPINNER!…Michael is a ‘fragile’ boy—one of a seemingly small number of children who grow tired when they run, who bleed when they are hurt, who can’t take off their heads….As the fragile children discover each other, probe in the moldering ruins of London, and try to interpret what they find, they come to the conclusion that they have been created by some super-scientist, as guinea pigs for an experiment.

“And what happens if the guinea pigs turn on their creator—on the Overman of the legend they all know? They may be destroyed. They may be set free. They may escape. And who or what are the others, the ‘drybones’ who do not bleed, who can take off their heads? Edmund Cooper has secrets he can hide as well from you as from the fragiles…”

—P. Schuyler Miller, Analog

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“Monkey Wrench”

“Monkey Wrench” by Gordon R. Dickson
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1951
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…

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Singularity Station

Singularity Station by Brian N. Ball
DAW Books, 1973
Price I paid: 90¢ Paperback

Robotic minds made interstellar travel possible, but human minds still controlled the destination and purpose of such flight. Conflict develops only when a programmed brain cannot evaluate beyond what is visible and substantial, whereas the human mind is capable of infinite imagination—including that which is unreal.

Such was the problem at the singularity in space in which the ALTAIR STAR and a hundred other vessels had come to grief. At that spot, natural laws seem subverted—and some other universe’s rules impinged.

For Buchanan, the station meant a chance to observe and maybe rescue his lost vessel. For the robotic navigators of oncoming spaceships, the meaning was different. And at Singularity Station the only inevitable was conflict.

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The Gods Hate Kansas

The Gods Hate Kansas by Joseph Millard
Monarch Books, 1964
Price I paid: this is my third Interlibrary Loan book in a row

It began with the landing of nine meteors in Kansas. Then, suddenly, it exploded into a massive catastrophe.

First, the meteorite investigating team were turned into automatons, ruled by an unknown, alien intelligence. They barricaded themselves from the world and began building a rocket project, aimed at traversing the stars.

Then, the Crimson Plague struck, sweeping over Earth’s population, destroying human capacities and defying scientific probing.

Only a few escaped the invasion from outer space, among them astrophysicist Curt Temple, whose girl friend, Lee Mason, was enslaved, her personality changed.

Curt knew he had to pit his slim knowledge against the most perfect intelligence in the cosmos to save the world—and the woman he loved.


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I Speak for Earth

Cover image from isfdb.org

I Speak for Earth by Keith Woodcott
Ace Books, 1961
Price I paid: none

“One citizen of your planet shall go to the capital of the Federation of Worlds. He shall live there for thirty days. If your representative can survive and demonstrate the ability to exist in a civilized society with creatures whose outward appearance and manner of thinking differ from his own, you shall pass the test. You will be permitted to send your starships to other planets of the galaxy.

If he fails the test, if prejudice, fear, intolerance, or stupidity trip him up, then your world will be sealed off from the stars forever!”

This was the ultimatum from space. The task before our world then was—who shall go? What man or woman could be found to take this frightening test for the whole of humanity and be certain not to fail?

It’s an edge-of-the-seat science-fiction thriller.

from the inside flap
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Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch by David Bischoff
based on the screenplay written by Charlie Haas
Avon Books, 1990
Price I paid: 90¢

KEEP AWAY FROM BRIGHT LIGHT,

AWAY FROM WATER—

AND NEVER…NEVER…

FEED THEM AFTER MIDNIGHT!

Who would have thought that within every playful, cuddly Mogwai there lurked a gleefully, malevolent gremlin? Billy Peltzer and his girlfriend Kate Beringer found out the hard way—and it nearly destroyed their hometown of Kingston Falls. Now the young lovers have come to New York to seek their fortunes. But the towering, high-tech office building in which they work is about to become a breeding ground for a whole new batch of deliciously malicious creatures.

Start spreading the news. The gremlins—lots of them—have come to take Manhattan…and they’re itching to comically paint the Big Apple gremlin green!

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Lurid Dreams

Lurid Dreams by Charles L. Harness
Avon Books, 1990
Price I paid: 90¢

Though basically a skeptic, William Reynolds had known out-of-body experiences in the past. But never before had he floated past the boundaries of Baltimore…and across the borders of time. And now, with the fires of Civil War looming on the horizon, the astonished graduate student was hobnobbing with none other than the dark poet Edgar Allen Poe. But their meeting of minds was to have chilling consequences. For a desperate Confederacy planned to use them both to remold the world—and to change history…for the worse.

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The Time Masters

THTMMSTRSR1971
Image courtesy of isfdb.org

The Time Masters by Wilson Tucker
Doubleday, 1971
Price I paid: none

In Knoxville, Tennessee, the men involved in the top-secret Ridgerunner project are about to complete work on the first rocket designed to probe beyond the solar system, and Secret Service agents in that city are becoming frantic over the presence of one Gilbert Nash, a man without a past.

The investigation of Nash began when it was discovered that he subscribed to every journal of science currently published in the free world—archeology [sic], geology, astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, medicine and, most disturbing of all, nuclear physics. Was he merely showing a healthy interest in science, or perhaps something more sinister? Determined to find out, the government agents are soon plunged into the most baffling and frustrating case of any of their careers.

Every fact they uncover only adds to the mystery surrounding Nash’s identity. He seems to have come into existence out of nowhere on March 8th, 1940, the date the United States decided in earnest to build an atomic bomb, and then migrated to Knoxville just in advance of the establishment of the Ridgerunner project. On the door to his office appear only his name and the word “Investigations.” And, although Nash gave his age as 31 in 1940, he appears not to have aged a day since that time.

When a key member of the Ridgerunner project goes to Nash’s office and then commits suicide a few days later, the search for Nash’s true identity and purpose becomes desperately urgent. But only Shirley Hoffman, secretary to one of the agents, is able to get close enough to Nash to actually converse with him. What he says adds a new and frightening dimension to the ever deepening mystery.

While dining, he begins to tell her the story of Gilgamesh, hero of an epic written thousands of years ago in ancient Assyria. Supposedly immortal, Gilgamesh was a man whose origins were either unknown or unrecorded, and who stalked through the land accomplishing mighty deeds.

As the story of Gilgamesh unfolds, Shirley Hoffman begins to wonder just what Nash’s interest in this ancient tale is—and by the time he reaches the end of the epic, she learns the incredible and terrifying answer.

THE TIME MASTERS is a compelling novel of science fiction that will hold readers i the grip of suspense until the very end. As the identity of Gilbert Nash is revealed—and the countdown begins that will blast the first rocket outside of the solar system—the book builds to an unforgettable and shattering climax.

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