" In this universe the night was falling; the shadows were lengthening towards an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered; and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again"

Arthur C. Clarke Against the Fall of Night

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Arrivals

A few posts ago I mentioned a trip to Fair's Fair my
favourite used book store. Yesterday I dropped by 
again, I am planning an Andre Norton tribute site
and after checking I realized I did not have The Mark
of the Cat so I decided to go pick it up. Of course I
found lots of stuff I missed the first time. It is great to
make two trips, you can convince yourself you are on 
budget, unless you treat both trips, as one.

Then ouch!!

I got my Norton and another Laumer, I am 
looking forward reading it after my post on
 A Plague of Demons

Three covers very much in the DAW style.
One-Eye the cover is by Stuart Gordon
Three-Eye the cover is by Michael Whelan
Star the cover is by George Barr

Of course I am still looking for Two-Eyes.

A great Last Castle cover by Richard Courtney.

And one of the truly iconic SF covers by Jim Burns   
for the Harry Harrison collection. This is one I really

Another great shopping trip.

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Arrivals

While at the cabin I did not order any used books. 
This is in contrast to my normal practice, because
I love knowing something is coming in the mail.
Okay I did order some new books but no SF.
But I placed a large order when I returned, for
one, because the shipping charges per book were
more reasonable. 

The items came nicely wrapped.

So far a good looking selection.

Some of my favourite covers in the order. Neat aliens 
and I what I thought was a Lehr city but this is by 
Bruce Pennington, I still love it.

The Bishop cover is by Melvyn Grant
The Aldiss Interpreter cover is by John Kirby

I agonized over the composition of the order
for a week or more (all part of the fun), it started 
with lots of Poul Anderson and ended with none.  
It was when I noticed the bookseller had this lovely copy
 of Robert's Kiteworld, a book I had heard about but never
 seen that I pulled the trigger and placed the order.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Plague of Demons - Keith Laumer

I took a number of SF books to the cabin this summer including the Berkley Medallion edition of A Plague of Demons with the Powers cover. While visiting my wife's family farm, which is down the road, I pillaged the library for SF titles and found the Warner Books edition with the cool skull cover by David Meltzer, these were my wife's books originally so they were not missed,  how could I resist? The back covers, below, combine to give away the entire plot fairly effectively, so be warned!

A Plague of Demons is a very enjoyable read, it is not deathless prose and it is festooned with so many of the standard tropes from the spy and sf genres that it is hard to count them. I had to add a number of labels to cover all the subjects. What I think makes this work for me is the almost breathless pace at which everything unfolds. Laumer gives you your money's worth in 159 pages. 

John Bravais, the protagonist, is a likeable character, reminiscent of the wise cracking but extremely dedicated agent/spy/detective from any number of novels. There are plot twists, hair raising escapes, nifty toys, and really scary demon dogs. Also, while it is not apparent to start, Laumer is moving his character in a very different story arc from the standard genre novel. There will be no blondes with a heart of gold for John Bravais. I have already added Laumer's  A Trace of Memory to my to be read pile.


Plague of Demons starts with fairly standard espionage plot with John Bravais tasked by his handler Felix Severance with investigating the disappearance of soldiers from the battlefield. Warfare is conducted in fairly scripted  battles which are monitored to enforce preset guidelines. Felix's group has determined that more soldiers are missing than
can be accounted for in normal circumstances. The novel follows a fairly standard pattern, Bravais is followed, warned off by the authorities, given brand new top secret gadgets to test etc. What happens next is what takes it into the SF realm. 

Bravais discovers that the brains of some death soldiers are being extracted by large dog "demons" with human hands. When he takes this information to the local general he finds the general is a super strong creature in league with the demons. Not to worry, John returns to Felix who admits he is member of a super secret organization overseeing the welfare of mankind and luckily he is also able to turn John into a a super soldier. What follows is a frantic chase with John menaced by increasing numbers of demon dogs who can move unrecognized by mankind. Felix is killed, John injured, stows away on a ship, is healed in a secret automated base, and eventually is killed along with a sailor he befriended on the ship. Wow what a strange ending, except this is page 109, I did mention there are 159 pages, so now we find out what the demon dogs do with the brains.

If you have read Fritz Leiber's Big Time, feel the thrill of recognition and enjoy or if not prepare to be surprised.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

New Arrivals

Saturday I was able to stop by one of the Fair's 
Fair bookstores in Calgary. The number of used books  
stores here have really declined over the years, but 
this small family run chain combines a number of 
locations with excellent service. It is so nice 
 to buy in person to avoid shipping costs, to actually 
handle the books and run into items on the shelf you 
did not know you needed until you have them 
in your hand

My haul included a number of anthologies, one, 
a nice copy of Conklin's Great Science Fiction by Scientists.
 Anthologies have always been of interest but since reading
 Bud Webster's articles on collecting anthologies,
 see them in the links under Handy Resources on the right
 or buy his book Anthopology 101, they have become 
something of an obsession.

I also got a copy of the Dick novel with a cover 
I really wanted, a fairly risqué cover for Thomas 
Burnett Swann an author I normally associate with  
minotaurs and fauns, and intriguing novels by Mark S. 
Geston and Michael G Coney which fell into the category of 
impulse buys.

And who can resist a horror anthology with a beautiful 
Richard Powers cover. The authors have a nice SF feel 
including Matheson, Sturgeon, Van Vogt, Kutter and 
Robert Moore Williams. An exceptional trip.