Shelves: science-fiction , cordwainer-vance-zelazny-and-esque , , short-fiction , collected-works-of 5. Set around A. This problem was resolved by having passengers travel stored in cold sleep, 5. This problem was resolved by having passengers travel stored in cold sleep, while the crew of the spaceship is composed of Habermans: convicts and criminals who have undergone medical mutilation to have the brain severed from all sensory input except the eyes.
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Few science fiction writers present us with a bigger puzzle than Cordwainer Smith , an eccentric figure from the golden age of sci-fi who retains a small but devoted cult following today. Was Smith a brilliant thinker or mentally ill? Was he an artist or an ideologue? Was his body of work a unified vision or a disparate jumble? Above all, did he see himself as a writer of fictional stories or could it be that he believed that his fanciful narratives were, in some sense, true accounts based on his personal experiences?
The preponderance of evidence suggests that our sci-fi author served as the basis for this case study, which was included by Dr. In other cases, the mental leaps do not result in concrete manifestations—as in the many stories here in which telepathy and mind- reading play a key role—but the locus of action still remains in the mental sphere. Even a used paperback copy of this work can bring in hundreds of dollars on the web. And for good reason. Even so, I am not surprised that, when Smith submitted it to John W.
Campbell, Jr. In still other instances, we encounter humans who have been genetically altered to meet the exigencies of different planets…or robots of humanoid appearance…or mixtures of animal parts with mechanical and electronic technology. This may sound like the bar scene in Star Wars , but in fact Smith is acutely sensitive to the ethical and sociological issues presented by a blurring of the concept of personhood.
Time and time again in his stories, he focuses on the struggle of one or another group to achieve the perks and prerogatives that are denied them because of how society classifies their state of being. In other instances, he reaches for religious symbolism in describing these social movements, and many have noted the Christian overtones of some of his work—yet this is not the Christianity of the modern-day, but more the underground movement of the early Roman empire, hidden in catacombs and potentially subversive.
Smith amplifies on his key philosophical themes, and here again the author stands out for his extreme effects. Yet the symbolic resonance of this story, one of the finest science fiction works of the 20th century, goes beyond any purely political interpretation. Some of the action is told in a straightforward manner, yet key scenes might be relayed in the lyrics of a song, the description of a snippet of film, testimonies taken down years after the events, and other indirect ways.
Needless to say, this focus on the metaphysical and psychological made Smith an atypical personality in the world of science fiction.
Rather his imaginative universe is so unconventional, and at times so austere—his fascination with the coldness and emptiness of remote space almost borders on an obsession—that it seems like a realization of some quasi-monastic worldview rather than a springboard for fiction of any kind.
Other authors have dealt with the conquest of space, perhaps as well or better than Smith; but none has done a better job of conveying the psychic aspects of the renunciation of the home planet that is the flip of side of this same story. Did Smith work out all of the details of his imaginary universe at the start of his writing career? Or, even stranger to consider, did he experience them in some out-of- body way? On the other hand, very little repetition takes place in these stories.
Very rarely does a key character from one story play a major role in another one—although minor characters do reappear with regularity. It is that very quality—the endless ingenuity of our author as he piles up strange element upon strange element—that stands out as the most salient trademark of this author. If in fact, he did feel as if he had lived these stories, at second-hand or even first-hand, then one can only marvel at the richness of such an interior life—and be thankful that these stories survive as testimony.
Learn how and when to remove this template message In , Linebarger married Margaret Snow. They had a daughter in and another in They divorced in In , Linebarger married again to Genevieve Collins; they had no children.
The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith
Few science fiction writers present us with a bigger puzzle than Cordwainer Smith , an eccentric figure from the golden age of sci-fi who retains a small but devoted cult following today. Was Smith a brilliant thinker or mentally ill? Was he an artist or an ideologue? Was his body of work a unified vision or a disparate jumble?
The Rediscovery of Man