Archive for Space Lawyer

Review: Space Lawyer

Posted in 1953, 5:COSMIC!, Review with tags , on July 9, 2009 by Aaron

Nat Schachner
1953

I never thought I’d say it, but I really enjoyed reading about a lawyer!!  The author, Nat Schachner, was a lawyer himself, though probably not a bona fide space lawyer like this chap here.  This was the only book he ever had published – albeit like many GP books, it was put together from a couple of his shorter stories.  He did however, contribute to pulp magazines in the 30s and early 40s.  I found Space Lawyer to be a surprisingly good read, but for some quite unusual reasons.  Reasons that I could have taken as negatives.  Indeed probably would be negatives to more than a few modern readers.  But before I talk about those reasons, what’s it about??

Our hero Kerry Dale, bright, young super-hotshot space lawyer, gets himself dismissed from Kenton Space Enterprises, Unlimited by the irascible Simeon Kenton (an adjective used to describe him three times in the first two pages) after being employed for a year with no promotion or advancement to show for it.  No longer a practicing lawyer, he busts out on his own, plying the space-ways of the solar system looking for opportunities and legal loopholes to thwart his old boss and advance his own ends.  Being quite successful – out-smarting ‘Old Fireball’ Kenton, making a fortune and winning the affections of his ex-employers beautiful daughter along the way.

So, what was unusual about it all??  Well, I had an inkling that this would be a little different when on the very first page, author Schachner chose to express ‘Old Fireball’ Kenton’s annoyance by employing the ejaculation “Har-r-rumph!”  In fact, a whole panapoly of outrageously quaint expressions of abuse and aggravation are variously employed throughout the book.  Let me give you a taste:

On page 14:

Old Simeon found tongue at last. It had swelled with indignation until it protuded from his mouth. “That goddasted blitherskite – I mean dadgosted slitherblite – did he dare call me Old Fireball?”

page 31:

“Is he really back on your payroll, father?” Sally asked innocently.
He glared at her. “Quiet! Of all the insufferable impudence, the ratgosted, blatherskited ripscullian!”
“Father, your language! It’s not even English!”

page 97:

“Dadfoozle it!” shouted Simeon.

page 209:

Old Simeon came hurtling over. His eyes blazed, his hair flared, he danced around the young man in a rage. “That’s right dingburn ye for a dimscullion, Dale. I expected almost anything else of ye, but not this. You forced my daughter along on this blamefoozled, scarumharum trip o’ yours!”

I just pulled a couple out at random, but I could go on and on.  I understand that it might not be to everyone’s taste, but to me, it’s brilliant.

Dale’s modus operandi is to do some reseach on a subject, execute a carefully conceived plan and when all and sundry are telling him he can’t possibly get away with it, he trumps them as to why he can by quoting from the law books obscure articles and sections with precedents.  As a reader we aren’t enlightened as to the exact nature of the trumps until he plays them.  It’s very entertaining.

To draw a comparison with another Gnome Press book, Space Lawyer brings to mind Lewis Padgett’s Robots Have No Tails. While they are different in that ‘Robots’ is penned as a comedy and ‘Lawyer’ isn’t (though it’s certainly lighthearted), they are very similar in the way they read.  Both are light and easy, reading them is a breeze.  I want to contrast this with another book I have finished recently – Renaissance by Raymond F. Jones.  It’s so complex and heavy that I can’t even get a review off the ground.  Though perhaps that’s more a testimony to my abilities as a reviewer…

Anyway, both ‘Robots’ and ‘Lawyer’ allowed me to enjoy them with nothing grand and heavy to consider.  This is the other element that I think the typical modern sf reader might have problems with.  Books these days seem to need to be so… for lack of a better term, meaningful.  This one isn’t.  Look, I’m not sure that I’m expressing what I feel too well here, perhaps it’s best just to say that when I finished the book, I could look back, smile and feel a genuine sense of simple pleasure – Space Lawyer is fun.

I can’t think of a higher recommendation than that.

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Close Up: Space Lawyer

Posted in 1953, Close Up with tags , , on July 6, 2009 by Aaron

closeupNat Schachner
1953

This is a title I’ve been looking forward to acquiring.  It’s always had some sort of mysterious allure for me.  I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the name, perhaps the color(!), perhaps it’s because I love cover art by Ric Binkley.  Whatever it is, I have it now and we get to check it out in detail.  It’s a little on the rough side, but not too bad.  Let’s have a look at the cover.  Just love the art.  Cool.
The major issue with the jacket (well, one of the two major issues) is a bit of soiling.  It’s evident on all parts of the jacket, and particularly noticeable on the spine.  The other issues on the dust jacket are the wear and chipping.  We’ll get a closer look at them later.
The boards also have a couple of issues.  A little staining along the bottom of the front board and some kind of discoloration on the upper area of the back.
I wonder what caused that…  Anyway, the spine is nice and square and still quite tight.  Not much damage to the edges of the jacket.
Very little staining to the block, good.  I did mention wear earlier, so let’s have a closer look at the head and tail of the spine.
The head is quite nice, no real damage there.  The tail shows some chipping though.  That’s not the worst of it on the jacket, however.  But before we look at the real nasty, I just want to take a peek inside.
Very slight discoloration starting to become apparent, but what I really wanted to show were those nice arcs.  Yet again, nice little touches from Gnome Press which I (as you know) appreciate and love.
There is a bit of foxing to the rear free end-paper and paste down.  It’s a bit hard to make out in the photo, but there’s some wrinkling to the free end-paper too.
And a bit of wear to the right-had upper corner there.
I pointed out the soiling earlier, it’s quite prominent on the spine.
Nice close-up of Ric Binkley’s spacecraft.  But you can see that soiling.  At first I thought it may have been foxing coming through from the rear side of the jacket, but after having the jacket protector off for these pics, I could see it wasn’t.  Does anyone have any advice with regards to removing this?  Gentle work with a soft eraser seems to be mildly successful.
And there it is.  The worst part of the book.  Nasty, nasty chip off the top rear corner and a significant chip off the front corner, along with a closed tear.  This is what really lets this copy down.  Quite obvious from the rear view too.
Dammit.  Anyway, you can see the general soiling here also.
Those faults aside, this copy still represents a pretty good bargain.  $15 is a very reasonable price for this book even in this condition.

Year: 1953
Paid: $15
Art: Ric Binkley
Quantity: 4000 copies
Binding: Yellow boards with emerald green lettering on spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Reasonable condition.  A few quite significant flaws, but $15 is still a nice price.
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.

Good things…

Posted in Audio Books with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by Aaron

A couple of good things have happened over the past couple of days…

First, I have four more books on their way to me, Address: Centauri, Space Lawyer, SF ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy and Renaissance.  I’m expecting them late next week or early the week after.

Second, the audio book version of Starman’s Quest is completed and available online at Librivox.org.  I’m looking forward to listening to that.  I’ve been listening to a few early SF books from them lately, they have been all very good.

Last, This Fortress World is very good!!  I’m about half way through so far, expect the Close Up to be avaiable sometime soon.

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!!