It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible


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Books from my collection: Phillip Mann

Phillip Mann was born in the UK but has been resident in New Zealand since 1969. Between 1982 and 1996, he wrote nine well-regarded science fiction novels. He’s had nothing published since, although Wikipedia claims he is working on a new novel. I hope so.

His first, fourth and fifth novels. The Clute and Nicholls Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls The Eye of the Queen, Mann’s debut novel, “an accomplished novel of First Contact”. I remember picking up a paperback copy of it in Birmingham in the mid-1980s. First edition hardback copies of it are hard to find, and correspondingly expensive. Fortunately, I recently found one being sold on eBay for a reasonable price. Pioneers, “his best novel to date” according to the Encyclopedia, is about a team of two genetically-engineered humans exploring the galaxy who return to a much-changed Earth. Wulfsyarn tells the story of the captain of the Nightgale, a starship in the Mercy fleet which vanished on its maiden voyage, and returned a year later with only its captain aboard.


Mann’s second and third novels were the diptych, The Story of the Gardener: Master of Paxwax and The Fall of the Families. It’s a space opera, of sorts. There are no giant spaceships, or huge space battles, but it’s set in a galaxy populated by a multitude of alien races, all of which are dominated by humanity. And just waiting to rebel…

His last four books were the alternate history quartet, A Land Fit for Heroes: Escape to the Wild Wood, Stand Alone Stan, The Dragon Wakes and The Burning Forest. In these, the Roman Empire remained in Britain, there were no Saxon invaders, and the British Isles now consists of Roman garrison towns scattered across a countryside of primordial forests containing communities of Celts. I reviewed the first two books for Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, and thought they were excellent.

Damn. Now I want to reread all his books…


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Look what the postie brought

Book haul time again. It’s been a month since the last one, so once more you get to see what new items I’ve added to my already-groaning bookshelves. Instead of a single photo, I’ve broken it down this time into several pictures.

First up is a trio of non-fiction books: Personal Landscapes by Jonathan Bolton, a study of British poets in Egypt during the Second World War (poets such as Lawrence Durrell, Keith Douglas, John Jarmain, Terence Tiller, Bernard Spencer, and others); a signed copy of A Short History of Lyme Regis by John Fowles, for the collection (see here); and Seven Miles Down by Jacques Piccard & Robert S Dietz, the only book written about the bathyscaphe Trieste‘s descent to the floor of Challenger Deep fifty years ago (see here).

Next up is four first edition genre novels. On the right is a signed and numbered slipcased edition from Kerosina Books of DG Compton’s Scudder’s Game, which also includes Radio Plays. In front of it is A Usual Lunacy, also by DG Compton and signed, and published by Borgo Press. Next is Colonel Rutherfords’ Colt by Lucius Shepard, for the Shepard collection (see here). Finally, Phillip Mann’s The Eye of the Queen, which completes my Mann collection (expect a book porn post on his novels soon).

Here are a couple of old British sf novels which were listed on my British SF Masterworks list (see here). No Man Friday by Rex Gordon I’ve had for a couple of months, but A Man of Double Deed by Leonard Daventry is a recent purchase. Expect reviews of both to appear on this blog soon. In fact, I intend to review most of the books on my British SF Masterworks list, the hard-to-find old and obscure ones almost certainly.

This is In Arcadia, a signed and numbered chapbook published in 1968 by Turret Books. It contains the eponymous poem by Lawrence Durrell, and music by Wallace Southam. The pair did two such chapbooks – I’ve had the other one, Nothing is Lost, Sweet Self, for a while (see this Lawrence Durrell collection post here).

And finally, here are four books for the Space Books collection. Sky Walking is astronaut’s Tom Jones’ memoir (no, not that Tom Jones, another one; the name, well, it’s not unusual). First Landing is a sf novel about the, er, first landing on Mars, by Robert Zubrin, an expert on the topic. Mars Underground by William K Hartmann is also about settling the Red Planet but is non-fiction. And last of all, Reflections from Earth Orbit by Winston E Scott is another astronaut autobiography. All four books are signed.


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A Mini-haul

If you’re looking for first editions of out-of-print sf novels, the best place to look is Andy Richard’s Cold Tonnage Books. He also usually has a table in the dealers’ room at the Eastercon. I just ordered a bunch of books from him. and here they are:-

From left to right: In the Valley of the Statues, a collection of short stories by Robert Holdstock, who wrote chiefly science fiction before Mythago Wood was published. He will be missed. Then, Wulfsyarn by Phillip Mann, a UK-born New Zealand-based sf author, whose last published novels were the A Land Fit For Heroes quartet from 1993 to 1996. His novels are certainly worth checking out. Next, Colin Greenland’s debut novel, a fantasy, Daybreak on a Different Mountain. And finally three DG Compton novels: Nomansland, Ascendancies and Farewell, Earth’s Bliss. After reading The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (see here), Compton has joined my list of collectable authors.

I can feel especially good about these purchases because not only are they excellent novels, but this week I also managed to sell three George RR Martin A Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks and five Robert Jordan Wheel of Time paperbacks on eBay.

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