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A lesser-known classic from the 1970s

The Gameplayers of Zan  (Ler, book 2)

By M. A. Foster 

14 Jan, 2015

Rediscovery Tuesday

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M. A. Foster published seven novels and a collection of short stories between 1975 and 1985. Despite having been intermittently out of print since first publication, his work still has its fans1. The Gameplayers of Zan was only the second of his seven novels, but, if you find someone who still remembers Foster’s work, it’s very likely that the book they will mention first is Gameplayers . It’s one of those curious gems the mid-1970s2 produced, a science-fictional anthropological exploration slash Kafkaesque political thriller that probably wouldn’t see print in today’s market.

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Crosstime Adventure

Crossroads of Time  (Crosstime, book 1)

By Andre Norton 

10 Jan, 2015

50 Nortons in 50 Weeks

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1956’s Crossroads of Time is in many respects another straightforward, serviceable little adventure novel that I would have found unremarkable except for an interesting choice of protagonist and a date of publication that makes the previous even more interesting. These two points cause me to stroke my beard in a thoughtful manner, which I believe makes me look intellectual rather than itchy.

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Different is dead”

Ingathering: The Complete People Stories

By Zenna Henderson 

9 Jan, 2015

Special Requests

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Zenna Henderson’s 1995 single-author collection, Ingathering: The Complete People Stories, assembles, I think for the first time, all of her stories about the People. The People are aliens forced to flee the only Home they knew when it decided to pull a Krypton. Although I’ve owned this volume for twenty years (when did 1995 get to be so twenty years ago?) I’ve never actually read it or any Henderson at all1, so this was a welcome chance to sample the works of a noteworthy author hitherto unfamiliar to me. 

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An interbellum satire

War with the Newts

By Karel Čapek (Translated by Robert Weatherall & Mary Weatherall)

7 Jan, 2015

Translation

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Karel Čapek’s 1936 satire War with the Newts was published towards the end of Czechoslovakia’s inter-war golden age, a time when the writing was already on the wall for unfortunate Czechoslovakia. One can sense from the novel’s wry, often bitter, humour that Čapek had pretty clear views about what people were really like and those views were not positive ones. Čapek is often funny but it’s a dark funny.

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Also, I liked the cover

The Way into Chaos  (The Great Way, book 1)

By Harry Connolly 

5 Jan, 2015

Special Requests

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2014’s The Way In to Chaos had the working title Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts . That’s a goal ambitious enough to make this the first new book that I have read in 2015. The sunniness of my outlook and the degree of malice I will bear toward the hundreds of books by hundreds of authors I will read over the next twelve months may well be affected by my reaction to this book. But no pressure! 

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Man versus Motie

The Mote in God’s Eye  (Moties, book 1)

By Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle 

4 Jan, 2015

Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

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1974’s Mote in God’s Eye was the first collaboration between Niven, by then a winner of multiple Hugo Awards, and Pournelle, the winner of the 1973 Campbell for Best New Writer. Readers could be excused for expecting a lot from this novel given who wrote it. They must have liked what they found, because this earned nominations for both the Best Novel Hugo (losing to Le Guin’s The Dispossessed ) and the Best Novel Nebula (losing to Haldeman’s The Forever War ). Forty-one years later, does it still stand up?

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