A Rediscovery of Clifford D. Simak - A Reading Challenge

J-Sun

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Okay, interesting info. Thanks for that. :)

I wonder if Betsy Mitchell is the same Betsy Mitchell who worked for... Spectra, or some other large press - I forget which. (Probably more than one but there's some one I'm trying to think of. Ace?)
 

Ralf 58

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Wow, I just wrote the 300th posting in this thread. Did you know that the Simak thread is the longest thread under the heading "Classic SF & F"?
We have with this posting 301 responses, followed by "General Weird discusion thread" with 286 and "Can You Remember Your First Science Fiction Novel?" with 243 replies. (see overview, sorted by replies).

However, these other threads already exist 7 or 8 years, the Simak thread of Bick is not even one year old!
 

J-Sun

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Yep, Bick hit a nerve. I wish many classic authors could get rediscovered this enthusiastically. :)

(BTW, I had it right and it does seem to be the same person: Betsy Mitchell of Spectra is now of Open Road, based on the appearance of this ISFDB entry.)
 

J-Sun

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Thanks for that - ISFDB listed the fact of the interview but no link that I saw and I didn't realize it was online (I assumed it was in the printzine and didn't even try to search for it). Thanks for the link! :)
 

KFSF

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In case anyone is interested, I just noticed you can now preorder "The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak" on Amazon Kindle. Six volumes are currently listed. The first three go on sale October 20.
 

Ralf 58

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In case anyone is interested, I just noticed you can now preorder "The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak" on Amazon Kindle. Six volumes are currently listed. The first three go on sale October 20.
Thx KFSF. but this information I had already posted in detail. Flip back one page or click here.
 

KFSF

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Whoops. Sorry. Guess I missed that. Anyway I ordered them all. :)
 

Bick

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Book 9: The Goblin Reservation - Novel, 1968

In the early 1960's, Simak wrote numerous books that have a depth and seriousness that appeals to me. He combined his ideas of a lost pastoral life, the our place in the universe, and the peculiar nature of time to write very fine SF. Toward the end of the decade he seems to switch a little bit to a more whimsical and entertaining style, and this is the type of book The Goblin Reservation is. There are pros and cons to Simak's less serious work, and like all 'art', sometimes it works well and sometimes less well. For me, The Goblin Reservation is probably the weakest of his books I've read to date, though its not entirely without merit.

Firstly, it must be said that this book could not be mistaken as written by another author. If the cover and title page were missing, one would immediately latch on to the fact that it takes place in Wisconsin! There are many other parallels with other books too: there are aliens, but they are weird and Simakesque; the action is all on Earth; Shakespeare features (in fact there are several similarities to Shakespeare's Planet in the plotting); and while there isn't a dog, but there is a pet as a main character. Myth, fantasy and SF collide, and the writing is clear and readable. These are all Simak hallmarks. Unfortunately, the plot, for me, is just too daft, its told too quickly, holds together weakly and offers to little in the way of introspective thought and comment that I enjoy most about Simak. I see in a fan poll, this was the fourth most popular novel, but I don't accord it the same merit. Its entertaining, and not a chore to read, but its fluff, in all honesty. In contrast, Shakespeare's Planet, which on the face of it is similarly light and fantastical, and which has similarities of plot, is somehow a much better novel; it was more cohesive and made more sense, and Simak did manage to bring some depth to that work - something I felt was rather lacking here. A fun, light read perhaps, but for die-hard fans only I think.
 

Ralf 58

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Book 9: The Goblin Reservation - Novel, 1968

In the early 1960's, Simak wrote numerous books that have a depth and seriousness that appeals to me. He combined his ideas of a lost pastoral life, the our place in the universe, and the peculiar nature of time to write very fine SF. Toward the end of the decade he seems to switch a little bit to a more whimsical and entertaining style, and this is the type of book The Goblin Reservation is. There are pros and cons to Simak's less serious work, and like all 'art', sometimes it works well and sometimes less well. For me, The Goblin Reservation is probably the weakest of his books I've read to date, though its not entirely without merit.
...

Hello Bick,
I share your assessment of "Goblin Reservation" in the essential points. I had already written about a year ago.
About half a year I have read the book again and it did not get better. The novel is not logical and at the end seems Simak to have forgotten how he started. The whole plot is a mess and the jokes I found particularly funny not.
I do not know why, but in Russia, where in the last two decades most books have been published by Simak, this novel is one of the most popular ever. There are already more than forty editions! Recently I have met a Russian in Germany. He is not Simak fan, but he has read this book in his youth (30 years ago) and he is still enthusiastic about it. Perhaps there is in this book a kind of Slavic humor that Simak has inherited from his ancestors and that we can not understand. ;-)
 

Bick

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Thanks for the comments, Ralf. Yes, you made a good point a year back when you mentioned Simak didn't return to the teleportation accident - that would have made for a good book on its own. I liked the Wheelers too. However, I believe that the characters and scenes a writer places in a novel need to be there. There should be a point and necessity to every character's appearance to keep a plot tight and make sense. Unfortunately, with this novel, the appearance of Shakespeare is completely unnecessary and only serves to make it seem silly. The same could be said for several other characters. The book's resolution can only be achieved through a deus ex machina style appearance by a character too. I suspect you're right that Simak had forgotten why he started the book by the time he got to the end, or at least lost interest and was already into his next project.
 

Bick

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Thanks, Extollager - there's been a fair amount of discussion of these titles as you probably know. I personally would have liked to see a chronological release, rather than a random selection in each volume. I also have quite a few short stories collected already, so I wont be buying them, as I don't double up if I can help it. They are mostly earmarked as Kindle only at present. If Dave Wixon comes back on Chronicles he'll be able to answer our questions about his plans for the series.
 

Ralf 58

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Meanwhile, the first three volumes of the series "The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak" have now been published. They can be ordered over the internet.

Here again the complete table of contents:

csfocds-01-iamcrying_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg

Vol. 1: I Am Crying All Inside and Other Stories
Installment Plan (1959)
I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air (2015)
Small Deer (1965)
Ogre (1944)
Gleaners (1960)
Madness from Mars (1939)
Gunsmoke Interlude (1952)
I am Crying All Inside (1969)
The Call from Beyond (1950)
All the Traps of Earth (1960)

csfocds-02-bigfrontyard_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg

Vol. 2: The Big Front Yard and Other Stories
The Big Front Yard (1958)
The Observer (1972)
Trail City's Hot-Lead Crusaders (1944)
Junkyard (1953)
Mr. Meek - Musketeer (1944)
Neighbor (1954)
Shadow World (1957)
So Bright the Vision (1956)

csfocds-03-ghostofamodelt_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg

Vol. 3: The Ghost of a Model T and Other Stories
Leg. Forst. (1958)
Physician to the Universe (1963)
No More Hides and Tallow (1946)
Condition of Employment (1960)
City (1944)
Mirage (1950)
The Autumn Land (1971)
Founding Father (1957)
Byte Your Tongue (1981)
The Street That Wasn't There (1941)

I too would have preferred if the stories were arranged chronologically or thematically. But the most important thing is, that this series has ever appeared. (y)
Anyone interested in background information, will be the series must buy. Each book includes a foreword by David Wixon and each story contains a few introductory rates also by David.
 

Ralf 58

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I had here already informed about the first 9 e-books from Open Road Media with the novels of Clifford Simak.

Now the next 9 e-books have been announced for 1 December 2015:

Time and Again (1950)
The Goblin Reservation (1968)
A Choice of Gods (1971)
Our Children's Children (1973)
Mastodonia (1978)
The Fellowship of the Talisman (1978)
Project Pope (1981)
Special Deliverance (1982)
Highway of Eternity (1986)

timeagain_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
goblin_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
choiceofgods_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
ourchildren_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
mastodonia_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
fellowship_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
projectpope_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
special_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
highway_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg


These books are for pre-order on the Internet. Now only another 9 books are missing, then all novels of Simak at "Open Road" are available.

I must say that I liked the cover designs of Jason Gabbert very good. It is a pity that these books will not appear as printed books.
 

Ralf 58

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Sorry, I have the images linked wrong in my last two posts. Instead of my website I have put the links on my local web server. Here are the pictures linked correctly:

The three collections that have been published on 10/20/2015:
csfocds-01-iamcrying_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
csfocds-02-bigfrontyard_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
csfocds-03-ghostofamodelt_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg


The nine novels that are to appear on 12/01/2015:
timeagain_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
goblin_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
choiceofgods_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
ourchildren_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
mastodonia_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
fellowship_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
projectpope_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
special_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg
highway_us_eb_openroadmedia2015.jpg


More information about all the books there are in my Simak Bibliography.
 
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Darn. Nice to see some love for Simak. Afraid I've only just signed on here and have skipped much of the preceding sixteen pages being presently fairly busy, but I just wanted to say hello.

Simak is one of my top three favourite science-fiction authors, at least by virtue of the space his works take up in my collection (the other two biggies being van Vogt and Philip K. Dick). I've read most of them now, but for (I think) about five, maybe four from the later years. I started working my way forward a few years ago and now have just Mastodonia and a few others left to track down and read, although I've only read one collection's worth of short stories - so am looking forward to these new collections.

The Goblin Reservation is possibly my favourite of the lot, although the term favourite probably depends on what I'm reading at the time; excepting, I suppose, Why Call Them Back From Heaven? which I never quite warmed to.

Actually presently reading Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper and wondering at the possibility of his having been influenced to some degree by Simak.
 

BAYLOR

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Welcome to Chons Lawrence. :)

Simak is definitely an underrated writer . I've read City, Way Station, All Flesh is Grass , Ring Around The Sun and Enchanted Pilgrimage. Wonderful books.(y)
 
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Bick

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A warm welcome, Lawrence, and glad you stopped by this thread to talk about CDS. Its a funny thing, subjective appreciation, because while we agree on the quality of Simak and his place as a favourite SF author, we're not exactly in sync on his best works! You're favourite (Goblin Reservation) is by some margin the book I've enjoyed least, while the one you're perhaps least keen on (Why Call Them Back...?) is the novel I perhaps regard as his greatest, alongside maybe Way Station. But then, who am I to say what's best? Goblin Reservation certainly seems to split opinion and I've heard other on here laud it up. And I think I'm rather a lone voice in elevating Why Call Them Back to classic SF status. I genuinely think its a great SF novel - quite a mature and serious book. I've not met many who agree with me though!

Simak went through so many stages in his writing career, but I think his output from about 1961 through 1965 was perhaps his strongest, and in this period his writing certainly bears some similarities to PKD who you also name-check as a favourite. van Vogt is perhaps more like the earliest or much later, more playful, and amusing Simak. I tend to think of van Vogt stories as being a bit mad, but Simak wasn't averse to real flights of fancy either, was he?
 
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A warm welcome, Lawrence, and glad you stopped by this thread to talk about CDS. Its a funny thing, subjective appreciation, because while we agree on the quality of Simak and his place as a favourite SF author, we're not exactly in sync on his best works! You're favourite (Goblin Reservation) is by some margin the book I've enjoyed least, while the one you're perhaps least keen on (Why Call Them Back...?) is the novel I perhaps regard as his greatest, alongside maybe Way Station. But then, who am I to say what's best? Goblin Reservation certainly seems to split opinion and I've heard other on here laud it up. And I think I'm rather a lone voice in elevating Why Call Them Back to classic SF status. I genuinely think its a great SF novel - quite a mature and serious book. I've not met many who agree with me though!

Simak went through so many stages in his writing career, but I think his output from about 1961 through 1965 was perhaps his strongest, and in this period his writing certainly bears some similarities to PKD who you also name-check as a favourite. van Vogt is perhaps more like the earliest or much later, more playful, and amusing Simak. I tend to think of van Vogt stories as being a bit mad, but Simak wasn't averse to real flights of fancy either, was he?

Hello Bick, and thanks for the welcome. I should probably explain that when I'm ranking Simak, I would say even the lowliest by my estimation usually still has plenty going for it, so it's not like he's ever written anything I would refuse to have in my home (cough cough Heinlein). I'm no longer quite sure what it was with Why Call Them Back, although a somewhat clumsy passage comes to mind, a description of some guy leaving something or other by or possibly in a dustbin at the back of a restaurant in the hope of it being found by another person, and the actual grammar seemed so unusually laboured for Simak that it read like a poor first draft, and I never quite recovered from that paragraph. Doubtless I will give it another shot at some point, as it's rare that I dislike anything he wrote. The only other instances I can recall were finding A Choice of Gods a bit unsatisfactory for reasons I can no longer remember, and one of the later fantasy ones (poss. Where Evil Dwells... definitely remember liking Talisman) had a bit of a dark edge to it which I found a bit unsettling. Otherwise, it's tough to pick out a favourite - I liked Empire, and I seem to recall that even Simak himself was a bit down on that one due to the circumstance of it being written.

Anyway, my copy of the first volume of short stories has turned up, which is nice. It looks good. Also quite glad to see they're going for fourteen volumes of reasonable size, which I prefer. I have that complete Kornbluth short stories collection by NESFA, and whilst it's great to have those stories, you could use the thing to stun cattle. I know it's up to me whether I read the whole thing in one go or not (as opposed to dipping in like a normal person), but I definitely prefer shorter collections. I just hope they can be persuaded to do print versions. I'm not so keen on eBooks.

"A bit mad" is probably an understatement with van Vogt, although I think I appreciate both himself and Simak for similar reasons in that their narratives, even when utilising certain familiar ideas, the quest and so on, tend to avoid the formulaic, and often seem to take quite abrupt changes of direction without warning. Of course van Vogt made a virtue of this in pursuit of, I suppose, a dream-like quality, although with Simak it seems to have been a case of just letting the characters go where they seemed to want to go. I think I read somewhere that he conceived about two thirds of a novel prior to writing, and the rest would come about naturally, which appeals to me more than the suggestion of vast webs of tightly plotted narrative you find with some authors.
 

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