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NORSTRILIA [Mass Market Paperback]

Cordwainer Smith
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 12 1985
This is the only novel Cordwainer Smith ever wrote during his distinguished career. It tells the story of a boy form the planet Old North Australia (where rich, simple farmers grow the immortality drug Stroon), how he bought Old Earth, and how his visit to Earth changed both him and Earth itself."Vividly drawn and wonderfully suggestive...confirms that Cordwainer Smith was one of science fiction's most original writers." -- "Science Fiction: The Best 100 Novels""Better than any writer we've yet seen, Smith represents the sense of awe and wonder that is the heart of science fiction." -- Scott Edelman, "Science Fiction Age"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Average "classic" May 26 2004
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia or really great? Jan. 13 2003
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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By Tyguy
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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5.0 out of 5 stars The brilliance of Smith, forever in print March 27 2002
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent until the ending
The book is full of great ideas and interesting characters. This is doubly impressive given its age; a lot of old science fiction just doesn't seem original, interesting, or... Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2001 by Justus Pendleton
5.0 out of 5 stars An Undiscovered Classic
Cordwainer Smith belongs to a rare group of truly original voices in the world of speculative fiction. Read more
Published on June 7 2001 by Matthew Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest
As another reviewer noted, it is too bad that the complete works of this great man are not fully available. Read more
Published on April 14 2001 by R. Swanson
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragedy there's only one novel from this genius
Cordwainer Smith deserves the widest possible recognition. Perhaps the most highly literary of all science fiction writers before the New Wave of the sixties (and still, for my... Read more
Published on July 17 2000 by Robert James
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite book
Harlan Ellison (one of my other favorite authors) brought Cordwainer Smith to my attention sometime in the 70s. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 1999 by Lance Reid Totten (ltotten@eclipse.net)
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading at all schools!
As well as agreeing with the other reviews, I would like to comment on the 'feel' of the universe created by the author. Read more
Published on May 6 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time greats
I encountered Cordwainer Smith when I was very young, in Galaxy magazine (the Game of Rat and Dragon). Read more
Published on Feb. 25 1999 by Moderan
5.0 out of 5 stars probably the best SF author of all time
All the world created by C.S. is full of human feeling, something not much found un the world of SF. Every story is the expresion of your mental state, independly of the time. Read more
Published on Oct. 16 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best SF novels I've ever read!
The first piece I ever read by Cordwainer Smith was a short story called "The Ballad of Lost C'mell," a story of intrigue and unrequited love featuring the cat-derived... Read more
Published on July 29 1998
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