The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Smith (real name: Paul M. A. Linebarger) is one of many underappreciated science fiction writers of the 1950s and '60s, and this hefty volume should help reinvigorate his reputation. Editor Mann has gathered all of Smith's published science fiction stories, as well as a rewritten version of ``Ward 81-Q'' and another piece, ``Himself in Anachron'' (completed by Genevieve Linebarger, the author's widow), which have never appeared in print before. The vast majority of the tales take place within the framework of a general future history later dubbed the Instrumentality of Mankind saga, whose linked but independent components include Smith's most famous pieces: ``Scanners Live in Vain,'' ``The Ballad of Lost C'mell,'' ``Alpha Ralpha Boulevard'' and ``The Game of Rat and Dragon.'' This collection reveals Smith as a sophisticated, often poetic writer whose work stood out at a time when science fiction was still searching for its literary voice. The volume need not--indeed, should not--be read at one sitting: sampled like the vintage they are, these stories rank among the finest of their time, but guzzled all at once, they wear thin, and the prose grows less endearing. Nevertheless, it's thrilling to have them all preserved in a durable edition, so that future readers will be able to enjoy Smith's unique talent. (Sept.)
Carl Hays
Since his death in 1966, Cordwainer Smith (ne Paul Linebarger) has largely and unjustly become a forgotten--or never-known--quantity to contemporary sf readers. With the exception of his frequently anthologized "Scanners Live in Vain" (included here), most of his work has remained out of print. The present volume of his complete short fiction should help mightily in establishing his rightful place in the pantheon of great sf stylists. The bulk of the stories, assembled under the heading "Stories from the Instrumentality of Mankind," are loosely grounded in a common universe in which humanity has just emerged from a dark age of millennial wars, and technology has spawned such oddities as roving automatic weapons, cyborg pilots, and telepathic overlords known as True Men. Varying widely in style and subject matter and including a few that come close to foreshadowing cyberpunk, Smith's stories altogether reveal a far-ranging and still very readable talent that was ahead of its time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780915368563
  • Publisher: New England Science Fiction Association, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/28/1993
  • Series: Nesfa's Choice Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 671
  • Sales rank: 575,025
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 2.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Better than this - You cannot get,

    These are not just the best science fiction novelettes ever written, they may well be the best stories ever written. 'The Dead Lady of Clown Town' is the only object in print that has ever made me cry. These are true "miracles of rare device," and if you do not fall in love with C'mell, you have no soul

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2005


    There are stories here that will stick with you for a lifetime. My favorite? 'The Lady That Sailed The Soul.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2002


    This is the most unacknowledged and unknown science fiction writer since the tragically unknown and unacknowledged Kilgore Trout. Who else could have conceived of a planet which defends itself from extraterrestrial invasion by the broadcasted psychic vibrations from thousands of rabid, hungry and probably horny caged minks?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2001

    A wonderfull book, don't miss it if you love profound Science Fiction!

    Although Cordwainer Smith, aka Paul Linebarger, was not a terribly prolithic author, his prose has a profound, lyrical, vivid, and, at times, surealistic quality which has endeared his work to many readers. His writing has been likened to that of C.S. Lewis and Jean-Paul Sarte and like both of these writers, I feel that Mr. Smith had a unique understanding of human nature, potential, our dreams, and fears.

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