Reviews: Simak, Clifford D.

King of the Road

Special Deliverance — Clifford D. Simak

Clifford D. Simak’s 1982 Special Deliverance is a standalone SF novel.

When a student hands in an atypically good paper with citations unfamiliar to Professor Edward Lansing, Lansing summons the student to his office for questioning. The student admits he did not write the paper. No surprise. What is a surprise is the source of the paper: a slot machine in the basement of the Student Union Building1.

Of course, Lansing has to see this paper-writing slot machine for himself.

The machine is terribly insistent that it has to provide everyone who activates it with a boon. When the machine’s dirty joke fails to amuse, it provides Lansing with two keys and detailed instructions. Curiosity gets the better of Lansing. In short order he finds himself in very unfamiliar territory.

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These are the stories the Dogs tell

City — Clifford D. Simak



Clifford D. Simak’s City contains material written in the 1940s, material that wasn’t collected into book form until 1952. New interstitial material transformed it into something like a novel.


City was popular and has been reprinted in many editions. The edition I own is the Ace mass market paperback, which means it does include Simak’s 1976 introduction (not included in earlier editions), but it does not include “Epilog,” which was written for the 1973 tribute collection for Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology1. (“Epilog” is included in later editions of City.)


While it didn’t win the Hugo2, City did win the International Fantasy Award. My copy is well-worn; I still regard it fondly, despite the fact that it would seem to be exactly the sort of city-hating SF I loathe. And the book isn’t exactly keen on humans either. But it has the Dogs and the Cobbly worlds, and apparently that’s enough for me. And for many other readers as well.



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The anti-Lovecraft

Way Station — Clifford D. Simak

Clifford D. Simak’s 1963 Hugo-winning novel Way Station in many ways exemplifies the strengths for which Simak was known, as well as some of his characteristic weaknesses. Way Station is also an example of something that is quite rare amongst Hugo-winning novels: it is very much out of print, along with most of Simak’s oeuvre, a development that has left it  undeservedly obscure. I may not be able to place the book in your hands but at I least I can remind people it exists.

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