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

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9780915368563: The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith
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Includes 33 stories that represent Cordwainer Smiths entire SF works except for the novel Norstrilia. These stories are "classics" of the field such as "The Dead Lady of Clown Town," "The Game of Rat and Dragon," "Scanners Live in Vain," and "A Planet Named Shayol." Appearing for the first time in print are "Himself in Anachron" and the completely rewritten adult version of his high school story "War No. 81-Q." Introduction by John J. Pierce.

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Review:

The third story in this volume takes place 16,000 years in the future. When you realize that the 33 stories are ordered chronologically, you begin to grasp the scale of Cordwainer Smith's creation. Regimes, technologies, planets, moralities, religions, histories all rise and fall through his millennia.

These are futuristic tales told as myth, as legend, as a history of a distant and decayed past. Written in an unadorned voice reminiscent of James Tiptree Jr., Smith's visions are dark and pessimistic, clearly a contrast from the mood of SF in his time; in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s it was still thought that science would cure the ills of humanity. In Smith's tales, space travel takes a horrendous toll on those who pilot the ships through the void. After reaching perfection, the lack of strife stifles humanity to a point of decay and stagnation; the Instrumentality of Mankind arises in order to stir things up. Many stories describe moral dilemmas involving the humanity of the Underpeople, beings evolved from animals into humanlike forms.

Stories not to be missed in this collection include "Scanners Live in Vain," "The Dead Lady of Clown Town," "Under Old Earth," "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal," "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons," and the truly disturbing "A Planet Called Shayol." Serious SF fans should not pass up the chance to experience Cordwainer Smith's complex, distinctive vision of the far future. --Bonnie Bouman

From the Publisher:

This is a volume in the NESFA's Choice series. The objective of this series is to publish the "classic" works of neglected sf authors, and to keep these works in print.

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