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Space Lords [Mass Market Paperback]

Cordwainer Smith


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reissue edition (July 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441777430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441777433
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,688,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book by Cordwainer, Smith

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! April 4 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although "Space Lords" contains only five of Cordwainer Smith's many fantastic science-fiction short stories, each story is a masterwork of language and imagination. A story by Cordwainer Smith reads like nothing else ever written; there is no way you could mistake him for another writer. His weird and wonderful future universe is entirely his own, and these key short stories illuminate various important points and events in its unfolding history. "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons" shows the reader, by truly horrific example, why it is a very bad idea to try and rob the richest planet in the galaxy. The story of Joan of Arc is retold in "The Dead Lady of Clown Town" from a point of view taking place several centuries after the actual incident, so that the reader may compare famous paintings and poetic reconstructions with the real events. In "Drunkboat" a young man travels through the terrible poetry of Space-3 to reach the planet where his love lies dying; "A Planet Named Shayol" is about hell and people and the drug known as super-condamine. "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" is my single favorite piece of science fiction, so anything I say about it is going to be biased: read it for yourself. All five stories can be found in collections of Smith's work, such as "The Rediscovery of Man" or "The Instrumentality of Mankind," but "Space Lords" has an added bonus: a preface and afterword by Cordwainer Smith himself. As he died in 1966-far too early, by this reader's reckoning!-it's a strange sensation feeling that the author is speaking directly to his audience. But it's great. Read "Space Lords" if you can find it, both for its stories and for its glimpse into Cordwainer Smith the writer (it's a pseudonym, of course, but that's not the point) and his own comments on his writing. If not . . . find anything by Cordwainer Smith and read it! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Smith Sampler? Aug. 19 2012
By Paul Magnussen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
No one before or since has written like Cordwainer Smith: the strange, soaring stories, with their hints of even further unglimpsed depths and wonders, were one of the delights of my youthful exploration of SF, and are a recurring source of pleasure even now.

Unfortunately Smith was ill-served by his early publishers: his one longish novel (Norstrilia) was hacked into two parts (The Planet Buyer and The Underpeople), and the short stories (which originally appeared in magazines like Fantasy & Science Fiction ) were splattered around different compilations at random.

Now Norstrilia has been restored and published intact, and all 33 shorts have all been collected into one properly-edited volume: The Rediscovery of Man (N.B. NOT the abridged Gollancz paperback of the same title).

This slim volume might reasonably be described as a sampler, and contains the following:

• Mother Hitton's Littul Kittens
• The Dead Lady of Clown Town
• Drunkboat
• The Ballad of Lost C'mell

The Ace edition apparently also contains "A Planet Named Shayol"; the 1970 Sphere edition does not.

In the Sphere edition at least, there is no Table of Contents. There is, however, a longish and rather touching letter of dedication in memoriam by the author.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book Dec 22 1999
By Juan Velasquez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I first read this book when I was about 11 years old (I'm 46 now). It has always stayed in my mind. In particular, the character C'Mell.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The faults and triumphs of absurdity and poetry in SF Nov. 11 2012
By M-I-K-E 2theD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Last year in 2011, I picked up the novel Norstrilia (1975) to discover why it was held in high regard among older science fiction readers. After grudgingly completing the novel and surmising that only nostalgia could provoke such admiration for the novel, I gave it a sold two-star rating and suggested to myself that a collection of short stories by Cordwainer Smith may hold some redemption. Here is where I stared down my copy of Space Lords and swore at it not to annoy be as much as Norstrilia did in the prior year: absurdity springing up everywhere, bad poetry and ballads spread throughout, and a plot direction with less bearing than a drunk giraffe.

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Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons (1961, novelette) - 4/5 - Benjacomin Bozart, the Senior Warden of the Guild of Thieves on the planet Viole Siderea, has been training for two hundred years along with three hundred thousand people to rob the riches from the wealthiest planet of Norstrilia. His tourist disguise gives him access to a calm people, but the secrets divulged are unknowingly laced with subterfuge of their own. All his planning is null is he meets the psychotic minks of Mother Hitton. 24 pages ----- This is when absurdity can be effective, when one absurd plot is supplanted by another even more absurd countermeasure. It's silly and bit scary, but nevertheless effective.

The Dead Lady of Clown Town (1964, novella) - 1/5 - Descending from the New City to a realm of surreal underpeople and a bodiless computer, the human therapist Elaine is oblivious to her prophetic stature to the Old City denizens of human-form: rats, bears, goats, snakes, and bison. Through doors and meeting a wider cast of eccentric characters both human and underhuman, Elaine finds herself back on Earth entwined in fate and mentality with the once dog underhuman D'joan. 77 pages ----- Absurdity typically has a difficult uphill battle with aimlessness, and here is where aimlessness rears its head and leaves the reader asking for logical progression and direction.

Drunkboat (1963, novelette) - 2/5 - Lord Crudelta, of the Instrumentality, straps Artyr Rambo on a rocket, tells him his love is dead or dying, and leaves him to his own means to get to Earth. A hospital on Earth finds Rambo on their grounds without a ship and without clothes. He mindlessly ignores hospital attire and performs swimming strokes on the room's floor, while the doctors are baffled. When Lord Crudelta comes to Earth, his dirty actions are apparent. 32 pages ----- The "how" is usually regarded as a null point when the "why" overshadows an absurd plot. But here even the "why" fails to produce on more levels than one.

The Ballard of Lost C'mell (1962, novelette) - 3/5 - Lord Jestocost is inspired like no one else to help the underprivileged underpeople and he has just found his ticket to benevolent emancipation using his telepathy. C'mell utters the name "Ee-telly-kelly" during her father's funeral and Lord Jestocost summons her to divulge the same name of her people's secret leader. Once ethereally summoned, the two strategize how to develop the underpeople's rights under the noses of the Lords. 21 pages ----- It's at all typical when as absurd story has a good humanistic thread woven into it, but the non-corporeal leader of the underpeople seems too whimsical to be dramatic.

A Planet Named Shayol (1961, novelette) - 4/5 - Mercer has committed a heinous crime against the imperial family and is sent to an orbital hospital to prepare for the tough life on the prison planet of Shayol. The deprivation on the planet is experienced by all who reside there, all their needs taken care of by the skin-piercing dromozoa. Once locally infected, each site grows a human limb or organ, which is lopped off and sent back to the hospital. Death is their only hope. 38 pages ----- Here's an excellent horror/absurd story where the horror builds dramatically only to be deftly cut short of a decent ending. Best story in the collection!

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On the subject of bad poetry and ballads, Cordwainer Smith has this to say in his epilogue:

"One last word about the bits of incidental verse. I am one of the most minor poets of America, but I thoroughly enjoy incorporating it into science fiction. I am not happy about the 1960s and with the terrible divorce which now exists between poetry and people in most of the English-speaking world. Something is wrong. Perhaps the poets. Perhaps the people. Perhaps you. Perhaps me" (206).

He may like to rhyme and perform repetition, but those are about the only poetry skills the man possesses. He says he "used Chinese, Persian, and Japanese verse forms with English words and rhythms" (206) but much of this was probably lost on the reader. Then again, I guess it depends on why the reader is reading the book. If it's for nostalgia, then the poetry may be a brilliant addition to the wonderfully absurd stories, but if you're approaching the short story collection with a perceptive and discerning eye, then the quality of the stories may match the quality of the poetry.

A fantastic cover by Jack Gaughan (Pyramid Books, 1968)!
I'll skip any more Cordwainer in the future but I will preserve this copy on my shelves for the two haunting tales which sandwich the lesser tales between them.

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