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“The New Father Christmas”

The Metal Smile“The New Father Christmas” by Brian W. Aldiss
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1958
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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Chrome

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Cover art from the 1979 Jove Books paperback edition from isfdb.org

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.

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Sorcerer’s World

Sorcerer's WorldSorcerer’s World by Damien Broderick
Signet Science Fiction, 1970
Price I paid: $1.25

Klim Xaraf, son of a nomadic chief, awoke from his monumental fall to find himself the prisoner of time―trapped a thousand million years in the future.

Around him was a dying world, its incredible power sucked by necromancers through a hole to the past…it’s cities preserved in stasis, awaiting his liberation, or their final doom.

Yet Klim could neither meet his world’s challenge, nor conquer the wizards of his own, until The Powers primed him for the battle. For with their knowledge, they would erase his memory and plunge him into a nightmare training ground…where all the wonders of tomorrow were the forgotten souvenirs of an ancient yesterday.

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Strata

StrataStrata by Terry Pratchett
Corgi Books, 1989 (Reprint)
Originally published by Colin Smythe Ltd., 1981
Price I paid: none

The excavation showed that the fossilized plesiosaur had been holding a placard which read, ‘End Nuclear Testing Now.’

That was nothing unusual.

But then came a discovery of something which did intrigue Kin Arad.

A flat earth was something new…

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Sacred Locomotive Flies

Sacred Locomotive FliesSacred Locomotive Flies by Richard Lupoff
Beagle Books, 1971
Price I paid: none

CAN FREDDIE FONG FINE SAVE THE WORLD? IF SO, SHOULD HE?

These are the questions that may or may not be the core of this extremely odd novel of the world of 1985. What the Israeli hyponuclear submarine Traif, Mavis Montreal the groupie, the giant cavern under the earth, Upchuck the Barbarian, and the Sacred Locomotive have to do with it all is hard to figure out. But entertaining―so who needs to figure?

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Primortals: Target Earth

target earth

Cover image from Amazon.com via isfdb.org

Primortals: Target Earth by Steve Perry
Aspect/Warner Books, 1997
Price I paid: none

Sixty-five million years ago, aliens rescued a handful of promising species from doomed Jurassic Earth. They let them survive on new worlds and evolve into beings and civilizations far older, far wiser―and sometimes far deadlier―than anything we can imagine. Today, one of Earth’s lost descendants is coming home…

Grad student Stewart Davies, working at a minor SETI listening post on Long Island, is the first to intercept the signal. It is not a hoax or an accidental burst of radiation. It reads: “I am Zeerus of Achernar Three…We have much to discuss.” Those words will transform the lives of Stewart Davies and his girlfriend, Jess Rossini; of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Larry Hightower and White House Chief of Staff Laurie Sherman; of NSA specialist Maj. Steve Hayes; and of Jake Holcroft, an eleven-year-old genius on the run from his fanatic father’s underground militia.

For the signal hasn’t come across billions of light years. A starship, carrying one alien, has entered the solar system, approaching Earth. And every old movie and TV show has suddenly become terribly real.

Is Zeerus ambassador or invader? Explorer or fugitive? Can we even understand his motives? What questions should we ask? What answers can we believe? If we don’t want Zeerus on our world, how can we stop him from coming? And if we are wrong about this being’s purpose for visiting, what are the consequences for humankind?

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Bill, the Galactic Hero

Bill, the Galactic HeroBill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
Avon Books, 1979
Originally published by Doubleday, 1965
Price I paid: 90¢

He was just plain Bill, enrolled in a correspondence course for a career as Technical Fertilizer Operator down on the farm, until a recruiting robot turned his head with visions of bright nebula lights, snappy red uniforms―and a cup of deep-space knockout drops…and Bill suddenly found himself aboard the Empire Space Ship Christine Keeler, fighting the Empire’s war against the lizard-like Chingers.

But an act of accidental heroism won him the Purple Dart (and an all-expenses-paid trip to fabulous Helior, the aluminum-plated Sin City of the Empire_―and that’s when Bill’s adventure’s really began…

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Of Men and Monsters

Of Men and MonstersOf Men and Monsters by William Tenn
Ballantine Books, 1968
Price I paid: 90¢

Eric the Only was anxious to become a man…eager to perform his initiation Theft from the Monster World and be accepted by the elders of his small tribe.

Then the women would notice him…and one woman in particular might begin to take him seriously.

He had learned well the rules of stealing. He had long anticipated his just rewards. He had carefully plotted and schemed. He had minimized all the risks.

But though Eric understood the merciless ways of the Monsters who had long ago driven his people into the wretched burrows, he could not anticipate the treachery of men.

Suddenly―without warning―the best laid plans of Eric the Only went violently astray.

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Lords of Atlantis

Lords of AtlantisLords of Atlantis by Wallace West
Airmont Publishing, 1963
Originally published by Avalon Books, 1960
Price I paid: 90¢

In the dim past, men had fled to Mars for refuge, but now the red planet was a dying world, and the Martians returned to colonize Earth and rule over the Titans―descendants of those who had stayed behind at the time of the now-legendary catastrophe.

But the rulers of the Titans, retained by the conquerors on their ancestral thrones, grew restless under the benevolent progress of the Lords of Atlantis, looked back to a so-called “golden age,” and plotted rebellion.

Here is a thrilling novel of what might have been the basis of the Great Legends that have come down to us: of the “gods,” of Atlantis, of Zeus, Hermes, Hephaestus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, Jason, Medea―and of a mighty empire which was weighed in the balance and found wanting!

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Space Opera

Space Opera

Image credit: ISFDB.com

Space Opera by Jack Vance
DAW Books, 1965
Price I paid: 75¢

A space opera is what science fiction readers call an adventure in outer space and on alien planets. But a space opera could also be an opera, a musical work, that originated in outer space….

Jack Vance’s unique novel SPACE OPERA fits both definitions marvelously! Because it starts with the mysterious opera company from the equally mysterious planet Rlaru that arrives on Earth to astonish and infuriate music-lovers―and then disappears without a trace!

And when Roger Wool’s wealthy aunt determined to reciprocate by bringing an Earthly operatic team into space and to the unknown world Rlaru, there unwinds a complex and surprising space opera of the first kind…filled with enigmatic aliens, weird worlds, and all the special color and cunning that is the hallmark of the best Jack Vance.

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