Reviews: Because My Tears Are Delicious To You

Season For Battle Wounds

The Deathworld Trilogy — Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison’s The Deathworld Trilogy consists of three works: 1960’s Deathworld, 1964’s Deathworld 2, and 1968’s Deathworld 3. Alternate titles: Deathworld, The Ethical Engineer, and The Horse Barbarians. All were serialized in the same magazine, which was known as Astounding when Deathworld was published and Analog when the other two came out.

(The Deathworld series is much longer. More on that later.)


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Space Girl

The Trouble with You Earth People — Katherine MacLean

Katherine MacLean’s 1980 The Trouble with You Earth People is a collection of SF stories. This Starblaze Graphics edition featured interior illustrations by Frank Kelly Freas.


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Must Be Funny In a Rich Man’s World

Norstrilia — Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith’s 1975 Norstrilia was originally published as two shorter novels: 1964’s Hugo-nominated The Planet Buyer (AKA The Boy who Bought Old Earth) and The Underpeople (AKA The Store of Heart’s Desire). The setting for both is Smith’s Instrumentality Universe. The books were later combined in one novel, as indeed Smith had originally intended. Believe it or not, but at one point SFF publishers thought long books didn’t sell.

The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that, to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he wanted, and got away alive, in a series of very remarkable adventures. That’s the story.


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I Look Inside Myself

Hooded Swan Hexology — Brian M. Stableford

Brian M. Stableford’s Hooded Swan series consisted of the following short novels:

  1. The Halcyon Drift (1972)

  2. Rhapsody in Black (1973)

  3. Promised Land (1974)

  4. The Paradise Game (1974)

  5. The Fenris Device (1974)

  6. Swan Song (1975)

The story arc begins with a sullen man trapped on a desolate planet.


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Feeling the Chill

Icerigger — Alan Dean Foster
Icerigger Trilogy, book 1

Alan Dean Foster’s 1974 Icerigger is the first volume in the Icerigger Trilogy. It is set in Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth.

Interstellar salesman Ethan Frome Fortune planned to visit the desolate iceworld Tran-ky-ky just long enough to sell some knickknacks. Instead, he stumbled over a kidnapping in progress. Fortune’s inopportune appearance was only the first thing that went wrong with the kidnappers’ plans.

One shuttle crash later and Fortune and his companions are trapped on Tran-ky-ky. The wrong side of Tran-ky-ky, thousands of kilometers from the only Commonwealth base on the planet…


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As Dreamers Do

The Traveler in Black — John Brunner


John Brunner’s 1971 fantasy collection The Traveler in Black was the first book published as an Ace Science Fiction Special. It has since been republished under several titles and with varying contents; nevertheless, like its protagonist, we can say that it has but one nature.

He had many names, but one nature, and this unique nature made him subject to certain laws not binding upon ordinary persons. In a compensatory fashion, he was also free from certain other laws more commonly in force.


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Where There’s a Will

Wolfling — Gordon R. Dickson

Gordon R. Dickson’s 1969 Wolfling is a standalone SF novel.

UN starships reached Alpha Centauri only to discover that humans already lived there. They are subjects of an immeasurably advanced hundred-thousand-year-old galactic empire.

The empire believes that Earth must be a lost colony. It might decide to act on that belief.

The UN must learn more about the empire. It sends James Keil off on a ship to the Throne World. He will pose as a bullfighter and entertain the imperial elite with barbaric spectacle. He will also gather intelligence.

His superior is having second thoughts about the plan, and the choice of agent, but it’s too late. Keil is en route.

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Terrible Things

The Starlost — Cordwainer Bird

The TV series The Starlost ran from late September 1973 to early January 1974, about three and a half months and sixteen episodes too long. Originally created by Harlan Ellison, the writers were Harlan Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird), George Ghent, Norman Klenman, and Martin Lager, while the episodes were directed by Harvey Hart, Martin Lager, George McCowan, Leo Orenstein, Ed Richardson, and Joseph L. Scanlan. The series starred Keir Dullea, Gay Rowan, and Robin Ward.

The series is a credit to none of them.

Devon (Keir Dullea) is blindly in love with Rachel (Gay Rowan), whom the elders of Cyprus Corners have decreed must marry surly blacksmith Garth (Robin Ward). The elders do not tolerate dissent. Devon is forced to flee the only world he has ever known through a door on other side of which may lie certain doom.

To Devon’s enormous surprise, Cyprus Corners is not the whole of the world. It is merely one of a great number of habitats. The revelations do not stop there.


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A Defector of a Kind

Rite of Passage — Alexei Panshin


Alexei Panshin’s 1968 Rite of Passage is a standalone SF novel. It won a Nebula Award and was nominated for a Hugo.

Mia Havero grew up on a great Ship, an asteroid-sized vessel that wanders from star to star. It’s all she’s ever known. Mia’s Trial, a mandatory test that winnows the unfit from the fit, is approaching. If she passes, she will live out her life on her Ship. If she fails, she might be exiled. Or dead.

Mia Havero is twelve, going on thirteen.


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The One Where She Has Sex With a Plant

The Pollinators of Eden — John Boyd


John Boyd’s 1969 The Pollinators of Eden is a standalone SF novel.

Doctor Freda Caron expects that when the starship Botany docks, her fiancé Paul Theaston will be on it. He isn’t; all she gets is a message and a sample of alien life. Paul is doing research on the planet Flora, where he has encountered an intriguing scientific mystery. He wants to stay on-planet for one more duty cycle. Although mildly put out (this means she’s saddled with planning their wedding all by herself, rather than allowing Paul to think he’s helping), Freda also understands why he would stay. She too is a professional botanist; she understands the appeal of this tulip-appearing enigma.

The tulip has a flower much like flowers found on Earth. There are no known insects on planet Flora. Why produce a flower, and pollen, when there is nothing to spread the pollen. Or is there? Who or what does the pollinating?


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The End of Laughter and Soft Lies

Earth’s Last Citadel — C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner


1943’s Earth’s Last Citadel is a standalone far-future adventure by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner.

Alan Drake’s desperate bid to get genius Sir Colin out of a North African war-zone is stymied when the two are ambushed by Axis agents Karen Martin and Mike Smith. Karen and Mike catch up to Alan and Sir Colin just after the pair stumble across a mysterious object in the desert. The Nazis barely have time to gloat before they and their prey are bewitched into entering what appears to be an alien spacecraft.

The four do not emerge from their captor’s craft for a very very very long time.


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Way Down on Old Chestnut Street

The Borribles — Michael de Larrabeiti
Borribles, book 1


1976’s The Borribles is the first volume in Michael de Larrabeiti’s Borribles trilogy.

Their pointy ears betray Borribles as having become something more than hard-faced street children. They keep the ears hidden and avoid the attention of the police who would crop their ears and steal their independence. Each Borrible must earn their transformation from runaway child into Borrible by means of sharpness of wit and strength of will. They win their names with thrilling adventures.

Eight Borribles will be offered the chance to become legends.


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And No-one’s Quite Certain Whose Play It Is

The Illuminatus Trilogy — Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson

Three 1975 novels (The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan) together comprise Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus Trilogy.

New York Detectives Saul Goodman and Barney Muldoon are assigned to investigate a bombing. Someone has attacked the office of a left-wing magazine, Confrontation. The detectives soon discover that their case may broaden to include tracing a missing person: editor Joe Malik.

Malik left notes that greatly confuse the two detectives. Malik’s paranoid ramblings document a world secretly run by a cabal known as the Illuminati. The ramblings are self-contradictory. More importantly, they give no hint as to Malik’s current location.

Meanwhile, in an entirely different part of the world….


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Every Single Day

The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe — D. G. Compton


D. G. Compton’s 1974 The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (also published as The Unsleeping Eye) is a near-future SF novel.

Katherine Mortenhoe is a forty-four-year-old woman whose computer skills have won her a minor niche in publishing. She’s settled for a humdrum marriage that is only marginally superior to solitude. She has led an unremarkable life.

She learns that she has just four weeks to live. In the world of this novel, premature death is extremely rare, She has become a valuable media commodity.


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Thank You For The Music

The Dramaturges of Yan — John Brunner


John Brunner’s 1972 The Dramaturges of Yan is a standalone SF novel.

Humans have expanded throughout the galaxy like kudzu. What they find on Yan is … puzzling.


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Fall Into The Sky

The Voyage of the Space Beagle — A. E. Van Vogt

A. E. Van Vogt’s 1950 The Voyage of the Space Beagle is a fix-up novel of deep-space exploration.

All but one person crewing the Space Beagle are experts, knowledgeable in their own field and ignorant of any other. The one exception is the Nexialist, Dr. Elliott Grosvenor. He is a generalist who can synthesize multiple fields. Nexialism is a new field with new methods. The experts on the Space Beagle view the new field with disdain.

Pity, as only Grosvenor can prevent the utter destruction of the mission.


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Just a Castaway

Shōgun — James Clavell
Asian Saga, book 1

James Clavell’s 1975 Shōgun is the first (by internal chronology) volume in his Asian saga.

English pilot John Blackthorne’s foray into Asia (by papal decree the exclusive domain of Portugal) ends in disaster. The Dutch fleet in which Blackthorne serves is scattered by a storm and Blackthorne’s ship Erasmus is driven ashore on the coast of Japan. The sickly sailors are immediately detained by local authorities.

Of course, Blackthorne is a white man in an exotic land. No doubt he will play the mighty whitey card, master every skill that matters to the Japanese in a few weeks, and then remake the nation in his image.

Perhaps not.


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Lost in the Wilderness

Search the Sky — Frederik Pohl & Cyril M. Kornbluth

1954’s Search the Sky is a standalone(ish) science fiction novel. It was the second novel-length collaboration between Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth,.

Ross has lived his whole life on Halsey’s Planet. Somehow he senses what his fellows cannot or will not: population levels are slowly, inexorably declining. The future will be grim.

Halsey’s Planet is just one of many worlds settled by humans. Contact with its sister worlds is intermittent, carried out by sublight longliners, smaller versions of the ships that delivered the original colonists to Halsey’s Planet fourteen centuries earlier.

A longliner arrives with an inbred crew of happy idiots bearing an enigmatic message and doleful news about the other human worlds. Another Halsey merchant, Haarland, asks Ross to come meet with him. This is odd, as Ross works for a rival firm. It turns out that Haarland has some bad news to share.

 Spoilers….


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Cops and Robots

The Caves of Steel — Isaac Asimov

1954’s The Caves of Steel is the first of Isaac Asimov’s novels that feature Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw.

Elijah is a human. R. Daneel is a robot. They fight crime!


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I Started a Joke

Mindswap — Robert Sheckley

Robert Sheckley’s 1966 Mindswap is a standalone SF comedy.

Interplanetary travel is prohibitively expensive. Interstellar travel even more-so. Bad news for Marvin Flynn, a small town young man with the travel bug.

Even though travelling in person is far too expensive for Marvin, there exists an affordable alternative. Simply dispatch his mind to some waiting body on a far-off world. What could go wrong?


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Outside of That

Beyond This Horizon — Robert A. Heinlein

1948’s Beyond This Horizon1 is a standalone novel by Robert A. Heinlein.

The development of workable methods for genetic selection sparked two genocidal wars. But all that’s in the past. The world has recovered. The Americas are practically a utopia. A long-running program aimed at creating the perfect human is close to completion. The latest iteration is Hamilton Felix. He would be the perfect man save for two flaws:

  • He could have a perfect memory (or so think the program planners2).

  • He refuses to marry and produce the child who would be the perfect human.

Oh, and his pal Monroe-Alpha has committed a spot of treason. We’ll get to that later.


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Waiting in the Sky

Identified — Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick
UFO, book 1

1970’s “Identified” was the first episode of the TV series UFO. The series was helmed by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, with Reg Hill. The episode was written by the Andersons and Tony Barwick and directed by Gerry Anderson. Unlike previous Anderson efforts, characters were portrayed not by puppets, but by live actors.

Humanity has incontrovertible proof that aliens have discovered Earth and are taking a close interest in humans. This interest outs itself whenever the aliens notice humans noticing them; the luckless humans are killed. One such attack on a highly placed colonel (played by Ed Bishop) moves the top powers of the day (US, USSR, etc.) to adopt a new strategy: secrecy. They’ll form a task force that will covertly investigate the aliens.

Ten years later…

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Trick or Treat

Wasp — Eric Frank Russell


Eric Frank Russell’s 1957 Wasp is a standalone science fiction novel.

Terra and the Sirian Combine have been at war for a year. Humanity enjoys a significant technological edge, but the Sirians outnumber the Terrans ten-to-one. The solution, as far as Terra’s High Command is concerned, is to adopt tactics in which the weight of numbers cannot come into play.

James Mowry is given an offer he cannot refuse. He is to become a wasp.


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Tell Me Lies

The Cosmic Computer — H. Beam Piper


H. Beam Piper’s 1963 The Cosmic Computer is a standalone science fiction novel. It’s set in Piper’s Terra-Human future history, in the last days of the Federation.

Conn Maxwell returns from Terra to his backwater homeworld, Poictesme, armed with hard-won knowledge. The family friends who pooled resources to pay for Conn’s education did so in the hope that while on Earth, Conn would uncover the secret location of Merlin, the fabled supercomputer that many believe allowed the Federation to triumph over the secessionist System States Alliance. With Merlin’s help, surely the investors could learn how to kickstart Poictesme’s moribund economy.

What Conn learned was that Merlin was not just legendary. It was a myth. There would be no all-powerful supercomputer to guide Poictesme to prosperity.

When Conn returns to his homeworld, he lies to his friends and backers. He claims to know how to find Merlin. This isn’t just an attempt to spare his friends or evade responsibility for the failure. He wants to use the belief in Merlin to inspire his world to take the steps that will rebuild its economy.


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Where The Rippling Waters Glide

Hestia — C. J. Cherryh

C. J. Cherryh’s 1979 Hestia is a standalone science fiction novel.

The colonists who settled Hestia were warned that the valley on which they had set their hopes was not suitable. The settlers ignored the warnings and founded a community in the valley. In the century since settlement, the community has endured disaster after disaster. Each year the community is worse off.

The colonists now believe that they have a solution: a dam to control the river. Only problem: they lack dam-building know-how. That’s where Sam Merritt, our protagonist, enters the narrative.


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