Sharing space with the classics of Heinlein Cyril M. Kornbluth and James Blish are huge stacks of old Startlinq Stories and Famous Fantastic Mysteries, space operas by John W. Campbell, the complete LENSMAN aeries of E.E. "Doc" Smith, Stanley G. Weinbaum's
'A Martian Oddessy' and 'The Red Peri' and 1930's epics by John Taine.
There are plenty of Astounding/Analoqs with the set of Galaxy, and the usual Science Fiction Book Club editions (Mrs. Linebarger is still a member). Scattered here and there are more obscure titlest such as Alfred Doblin's 'Giganten', Helen Simpson's 'Woman on the Beast' and Dostojewski's 'Der Doppelganger' o Also promanently displayed is L. Sprague de Camp's SCIENCE FICTION HANDBOOK.
Mrs. Linebarger notes that her husband also made it a point to keep up with the latest scientific developments. Thus, even though he had hardly any direct contact with writers in the field, he was a man who knew science fiction - who understood both its traditions and its possibilities - as thoroughly as most of those who have spent years ~n personal contact through fen and professional groups. At the same time however he was free of the auctorial politics - the pressures of trend-hounds, critics and factions that have been so prominent in the S.F. world.
With the publication of 'The Game of Rat and Dragon', Cordwainer Smith was recognized - belatedly - as a major new author. Dikty, who had passed up 'Scanners', was not about to make the same aisle twicet and included 'Game' in his BEST SCIF/~CE FICTION OF ~955. Yet, Oddly, it was to be several years before Smith's name appeared frequently as a contributor to the magazines.
If one relied on the publication dates for the Cordwainer Smith stories following 'Game', he would conclude that Dr. Linebarger began writing science fiction again only graduallyt and did not really hit his stride unt/1 after %957. Actually, this is far from the case.
Dates on manuscripts in a volume containing those for most of Dr. Linebarger's short fiction from %936 through 1956 show that 'NO, No Not Rogov', 'The Burning of the Brain', 'Mark elf' and 'Western Science is SO Wonderful', were all written in 1955 -within a year of 'Game', Dr. Linebarger also rewrote 'The Fife of Bodhidharma', that year - but there must have been a further revision, as the 1955 manuscript ends with the fife being destroyed at the end of World War II. Furthermore, two unpublished science fiction manuscripts are also dated 1955.
Of the unpublished manuscripts, one is an earlier version of 'Drunkboat. with a plot concerning the first man to planoform. It is primar41y of historical interest now, in shedding light on the genesis of the latter story.
Although similar in plot to 'Drunkboat', even to using some of the same names for characters, the %955 story is written in plainer styleI with no reference whatever to the poetry of Rimbaud. Since Dr. Linebarger later credited Rimbaud's work with having been the inspiration for 'Drunkboat' this suggests that he did not always "tell a11" about the motives of his work - even under a pseudonym.
The other unpublished manuscript consists of two chapters of a projected longer work, of which 'Mark Elf' was originally intended to be another chapter. Telling of the arrival of one of the two sisters of Carlotta vom Acht, heroine of 'Mark Elf't among the unauthorized men of the Wild, the unpublished fragment is richly evocative of the Dark Age of post-atomic war Earth.
Since the manuscript of ,scanners, makes reference to Lady Vom Acht aha her "illegitimate, and inexplicable", passage through the centuries, it is quite likely that Dr. Linebarger had the background of the 'Mark Elf' sequence worked out before 1945. The missing manuscripts he submitted
Amazing during World War II ~y, ~ fact. ~e earlier versions of the 1955 stories.
Together with ,Scanners, the %955 stories -those that are part of the Instrumentality canon, at least - fall into a group. A/1' focus on "outsiders" in their own element with little attention being paid ~o "social issues". The Lords of the Instrumentality appear brieflyt if at a11, and the sociological background of their universe tends to be implied rather than stated (though often implied very evocatively)
Holding centre stage are "outsides" heroes -atypical and adventurous individuals who are transfigured by strange and frightening experiences on the frontiers of science and exploration.
The Scanners who are dead though they live, the pinlighters fighting for survival in the Up and Out, the Go-Captain who must make the supreme sacrifice in a new and startling manner, the dancer driven to superhuman efforts by the confrontation with alien art, and even the vomAcht sisters facing a new world alien to their experience- a11 share something in common. What they share is a sense of vocation - an almost religious devotion to duty or to creed, akin to that of the pioneering aviators in the works of Antoine de Saint Exupery.
The heroes of early Cordwainer Smith stories seem to find their true selves only in driving to the limits of experince in pursuit of some high calling. Saint Exupery expressed
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