Archive for F.L. Wallace

Interesting Things…

Posted in Gene Wolfe, New Arrivals with tags , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by Aaron

I picked up another copy of Address: Centauri by F.L. Wallace a couple of weeks ago and it arrived yesterday.

Some interesting things surround the circumstances of this.  I asked the seller, Tim, to send me a couple of images so I could see the condition of the book a bit better.  The condition seemed to be indeed better (but not much) than my copy, and I directed Tim to the Close Up so he could see for himself the comparison.  Tim, it so happened, had previously learned of Gnome Press through this website!!

Interesting.

In addition, the jacket is in slightly better cosmetic condition than my copy, the pages are less GP age-toned, and… the binding is different.  This surprised me.  F.L. Wallace has no listing in Currey and there is no binding info anywhere else I have seen.  My original copy has tan boards and this one from Tim has navy blue boards.  This is something for the Trivia section.

Interesting.

Anyway, many thanks for the book Tim.

I received an email from a gentleman who is apparently working on a show for the Discovery Science Channel entitled ‘Prophets of Science Fiction’.  He was wondering about obtaining the rights to use some GP cover art in the show.  It’s an interesting question as to who actually has them these days.  I don’t know of course, but suggested he contact Brian at Red Jacket Press and also try First Edition Library as a couple of their books were GP reproductions.  I imagine these two companies would have had to secure the right to use original GP cover art somehow for their reproductions, and they could probably advise him better than I.  He was particularly interested in Heinlein and Asimov.  I imagine any cover art would now belong to the artist or their estate.

We’ll see what becomes of this.  Interesting.

In other slightly interesting news, It hasn’t arrived yet, but I picked up Gene Wolfe’s latest book Home Fires in limited edition, tray-cased form.  From the same publisher and very similar to The Sorcerer’s House which I got a few months ago.  I followed that up by putting bids on a couple of Hugh Walters books, Destination Mars and Expedition Venus.  I have so badly wanted to get some of his YA books as I enjoyed them so much when I first started reading SF out of the old Napier Public Library.

Also have a bid on another book which fired my imagination and scared the hell out of me when I was about 8 or 9 years old.  I enjoyed reading it again and again way back then.  A 1st edition A Book of Ghosts and Goblins by Ruth Manning-Sanders.  I really hope I pick this up as well.  It’s one of those books that you think about often over the years.

Interesting.

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Review: Address: Centauri

Posted in 1955, 4:Stellar!, Review with tags , on December 6, 2009 by Aaron

F.L. Wallace
1955

Wow, I’ve been really lucky lately.  I’ve been treated to some excellent space opera from the Gnome Press stable.  Following the mediocre reading experiences that were Pattern for Conquest and Cosmic Engineers,  I’ve had the pleasure of The Mixed Men, The Starmen and now Address: Centauri.

But who is author F.L. Wallace??  Well, this is his one and only novel.  Check out his pages on Wikipedia and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.  Somewhat dissimilar to the majority of authors published by GP, he wrote entirely in the 50’s and the very early 60’s.  The very early 50’s, the 40’s and even the 30’s provided the majority of the material for Gnome Press.

I hinted that this is a space opera, but upon a bit more reflection I’m not so sure.  Space opera is typified by it’s large scale – planet hopping, vast distances, extremely advanced yet poorly described technology and often rather thin characters.  While all of this is more or less present here in Address: Centauri, it’s arrangement sort of dissuades me from attaching the ‘space opera’ label.

Earth is the province of beautiful people, medical and cosmetic technology is advanced enough to remedy a great many problems.  But not all.  For those for whom finances or the technological limits are a barrier we have ‘Handicap Haven.’  An asteroid that houses an advanced medical facility catering to societies physical and mental rejects, and we indeed do have a motley bunch of starring characters drawn from this pool.  Which brings me to something I mentioned in the Close Up about the cover illustration something about the story.  I’m talking specifically about the main characters.

First, looking a bit like a Weeble, is Jordan – a genius engineer who has no legs.  Next is huge Anti.  Formally a talented dancer, but infected by some kind of rampant flesh-building organism.  Next our main man, Docchi.  Through a near-fatal accident, his tissues have been saturated with a partially organic ‘cold lighting’ fluid that responds to his emotional state by lighting his skin.  Jeriann looks great physically but has no digestive system whatsoever.  Finally the beautiful face of Nona.  Emotionally retarded and unable to communicate but with a kind of telepathic empathy with, and ability to influence, electronic and gravitic systems.

To cut a long story short, it’s Nona’s ability to control the artificial gravity of Handicap Haven that sets our population of rejects on their way to Alpha Centauri in a race to be the first to reach another star system, find a true home and perhaps establish contact with an alien civilization.

But, getting back to the question of whether this is a true space opera or not, lets check the boxes.  Vast distances and planet hopping – we go from Sol system all the way to Alpha Centauri.  Check.  Extremely advanced yet poorly described technology – artificial gravity and medical marvels.  Check.  Rather thin characters – barring Docchi, we spend very little time on the motivations and personalities of the other characters.  Check.  However, the vast distances are not a feature but a vehicle or framework for the story to take place in.  The means of setting up a time frame and a duration within which the story can transpire.  The advanced technology is in fact analyzed in a little more detail than we might expect from traditional space opera.  Sure, it’s still a bit sketchy, though to Mr Wallace’s credit, what he does describe leans more towards the harder side of science and it does have an air of credibility.  And we do develop real sympathy for the characters and their plight.  Indeed, the author has provided a very interesting group for us to enjoy the story alongside, and the two most interesting for me are Docchi and Nona.

We don’t really get to know Nona that well aside from her ability that unlocks faster-than-light travel by manipulating gravity, or to be more precise, mentally manipulating the systems that manipulate gravity.  It is her mysteriousness that is attractive however, and she also develops a relationship with Dr Cameron – the only able-bodied and initially very reluctant (he was effectively kidnapped after all) member of our crew.

Docchi is the leader.  He organizes the rebellion that leads to Handicap Haven’s departure and we experience his angst and frustration at having to evaluate and cater to the special needs of the asteroid’s various maladies and juggle (amongst other things) the rationing of power and the allocation of medical supplies en route to the Centauri system.

To wrap this review up without giving too much away, we learn that this rag-tag bunch achieve their goal, find a new home and are viewed as the true representatives of the human race.

There is a great base here from which F.L. Wallace could have built a couple more books around our team’s efforts to establish their home and relations with the denizens of the Centauri system. It’s a real shame he didn’t as I really enjoyed the ride out there, and would have liked to tag along on some more adventures with Docchi, Nona, Anti and their interesting friends.

Close Up: Address: Centauri

Posted in 1955, Close Up with tags , , on November 21, 2009 by Aaron

closeupF.L. Wallace
1955

I got this in a package purchase along with Renaissance, SF’58 and Space Lawyer, and overall probably in the poorest condition of the four.  Edd Emsh usually provides fantastic cover art, but on this occasion it’s a little on the ordinary side.  However, it does highlight a couple of things about the story which I’ll mention in the Review.  Overall the book is in pretty sound physical condition, but those bugbears of foxing and Gnome’s cheap paper are apparent.  Anyway, let’s check it out.
As I said, physically (tears, chips, wear) it is pretty good, but you can see it’s looking a little mottled, especially down the leading edge.  Some sunning on the spine too.  It’s starting to look better with the jacket off though.  The boards are pretty clean.
Though there is what looks like a slight oil stain along the bottom front edge.
The top and bottom views reveal no issues except that thing I mentioned earlier.
You can see the darkening on the block.  We’ll have a closer look at that later.

The spine extremities are ok, and the edges of the jacket are pretty good.  from the top you can see the discoloration and slight sunning to the spine.  Also on the spine is a graze – right over poor old F.L. Wallace’s name too.  Darn.
You can see the mottling/discoloration too quite well also.
There is staining and/or foxing on the flaps, the rear being the worst.
I’m never quite sure how to tell the difference between what is true foxing and what is a stain from some other source.  I suppose it doesn’t really make much difference as the result is pretty much the same.
The poor quality paper has resulted in the typical browning of the block.
But of more interest to me here (as I am so fond of pointing out) are the cool designs at the beginning of each chapter.  Nice.
The back of the jacket is ok.  General discoloration is apparent, but no real damage.

Year: 1955
Paid: $15
Art: Ed Emshwiller
Quantity: 4000 copies, 1263 copies remaindered.
Binding: Olive/tan boards with black lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: A reasonable copy. Basically poor aging drags the condition of this down a notch or two. Pity.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

I was very lucky…

Posted in Book Care, New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by Aaron

As I mentioned in this post a couple of days ago, I would be very lucky if I received those books by Friday.  Well I was, and I did.  They are all in good condition as I expected.  Even a little better, in fact.  All except one in dust jacket protectors, but I’ll rectify that later and replace the others – I want bright, shiny new ones on.  I must thank Joe (otherwise known as ‘nycatlady’ on eBay) very much.  He was patient with me, packaged the books superbly and gave me an excellent deal on top.  I highly recommend him as a seller.

Renaissance, by Raymond F. Jones, signed by the Gnome Press co-founder, book designer and cover artist David Kyle.
Space Lawyer, by Nat Schachner.
Address: Centauri, by F.L. Wallace.
SF ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Judith Merril.

Total price $78 + postage.

New Arrival…

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by Aaron

The Shrouded Planet arrived today.  Cool.  A book I’ve been looking forward to for a while, I finally have.  It wasn’t in quite a good a condition as I’d hoped, but it’s not too bad.

In other news, Joe agreed on the deal and I can expect a package of  four books from him sometime in the near future.  I’m very excited about it.  SF’58 edited by Judith Merril, Nat Schachner‘s Space Lawyer, Address: Centauri by F.L. Wallace and Raymond F. JonesRenaissance.  Renaissance is signed by cover artist and Gnome Press co-founder David A. Kyle.  Nice.  Thank you very much Joe, I appreciate your patience and effort a lot!!