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NORSTRILIA Mass Market Paperback – Jun 12 1985

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Jun 12 1985
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Del Rey (June 12 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345323009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345323002
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 10.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,486,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Cordwainer Smith, pseudonym of the late Paul Linebarger, a professor and part-time spy, wrote only one SF novel, but it is in keeping with the picture of a future world he built in his other fiction. This novel, originally conceived and published in two parts in 1964 and '68, and later issued in paperback by Ballantine in 1975, begins like a more traditional SF tale. Protagonist Rod McBan's Norstrilian peers consider him inferior because he lacks their telepathic abilities. Nearly "culled" as part of the strictly regulated society's population control, McBan uses a computer to arbitrage the galactic financial markets, enabling him, literally, to buy Earth. While the first half would merely have made an interesting novel, the second, more lyrical part displays Smith's superior writing abilities as he describes both the Underpeople (genetically designed combinations of humans and other species-and the Instrumentality (an organization for keeping humanity from becoming stagnant). The result: a novel that transcends its time. Though not a scholarly edition (the variorum is incomplete and the introduction leaves much to be desired), this composite text, ably edited by James A. Mann, is a fine companion to the author's complete short fiction, The Rediscovery of Man.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am another who found this work to be only average, at best. For a supposed classic of the genre I was very disappointed.
There are some good points, the ideas and the society created are very interesting. Unfortunately though it seems that in order to get more out of the book you will need to read his complete short fiction The Rediscovery of Man. Though this book should stand alone, it really doesn't and characters pop in and out without the reader ever learning who they are, why they do things and where they came from.
Apart from the interesting glimpses of the universe and the society imagined in the work the book did not work for me. The plot is muddled and disjointed. I'm not really sure there is a plot actually. I understand it is actually 2 shorts put together in novel form. The prose which is praised by so many others I found to be pedestrian.
For light on plot, new-wave science fiction that shows glimpses of a well envisioned society I'll stick with John Brunner.
Hopefully reading his short fiction will make this story more complete.
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Format: Hardcover
I intended to give this book 2 stars before reading the other reviews on this page, but now I'm not so sure. The other voices here are almost unanimous in their praise for Mr. Smith, and given my reaction to the book, I don't know whether they are all valid reviews or misplaced sentimentality for a childhood favorite.
I'm a great fan of SF, but I really didn't enjoy the book that much, mainly because of the problems mentioned in other reviews (disjoint plot, undeveloped ideas and characters, etc). Sure, it has some unique ideas, but not that unique. If you want to read some great books from the same time period or earlier, check out Philip K. Dick, or Clifford D. Simak, or Alfred Bester. I find their work to be more brilliant, much more developed, wittier, and at times even more strange.
I may have enjoyed Norstrilia if I were ten years younger (ah, to be young again), but at my age it just doesn't stand up to it's peers from the same time. However, I certainly didn't hate it, it just wasn't that appealing. Also, given the high praise Mr. Smith has received here and elsewhere (indeed, it has been recommended to me by many), it may be worth your time. Even I may read it again to see if I missed something special.
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Format: Hardcover
I liked this book, and it was good enough that it deserves a second reading (its also short enough). Some times the story doesn't make sense, sometimes its just really too bizarre. But when you think about when it was written its just amazing to think of how ahead of his time the author was. I would have wished for the story to be more epic because the preface set you up for an epic story and some parts of the story didn't get as developed as they might have. This is mainly because the book has so many characters that it jumps back and forth between, that at points you expect more to be done with a certain character. I would have liked to see more be done with the space pirates which at first you think are going to be major players in the book but then are seemingly cast aside. And with all the villians in the novel the main character never really seems to be in much danger even though the author clearly wants you to believe that he is. Then there are of some stupid parts to the book. For instance, I thought that the old wise catman part was nonsence and never came accross as meaningful as it was suppose to be. Besides the flaws, I think this book has a really cool universe, which has many interesting, yet underdeveloped characters, and a lot of very strong questions on the human condition that seem suprising applicable in the present even though the book was written some 40 years ago. Probably the reason most people wish that the author would have written more novels is not because this is the greatest book ever (because its not) but because it offers so many excellent questions yet never develops itself to the point of answering them. While there are better novels out there this one is so unique, short, and easy to read that no true sci-fi fan has an excuse to not read it.
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Format: Hardcover
There's really no way to explain the brilliance of Cordwainer Smith's work; it's so different, so lyrical, and so completely refreshing even now, decades after his death. This is unique science fiction, but it really almost crosses over into fantasy.
What can I say? Try it, and I think you'll be hooked.
It's worth mentioning that Paul Linebarger (who wrote under the pen name of Cordwainer Smith) was the son of an American diplomat and a godson of pre-Communist Chinese leader Sun Yat Sen. He wrote a definite textbook on psychological warfare, among other things. He wrote mysteries as well, all unfortunately long out of print.
However, all of his science fiction has been made available PERMANENTLY by NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Association; "The Rediscovery of Man", a large hardcover collection of all of his short science fiction, and "Norstrilia" (which, by the way, is the name of the planet that the hero comes from, which was colonized by Australians and was originally called "Old North Australia"), his one novel. This is a definitive edition, including all the text from the two paperbacks that were originally released by hacking the original maniscript into two halves. This edition includes all linking text that was written just for the two separate editions, as well as the original version and all variants.
NESFA has announced that they have arranged to print new copies of these books on demand. They're quite high quality, too, well bound and printed on acid-free paper.
Incidentally, Smith's daughter has set up a web site about him and publishes a newsletter. P>Although nobody else is like Cordwainer Smith, for those who like him I'd highly recommend "Lord of Light" by Roger Zelazny and "Bridge of Birds" by Barry Hughart.
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