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A Rediscovery of Clifford D. Simak - A Reading Challenge

2DaveWixon

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I guess I would not call SPECIAL DELIVERANCE one of Cliff's best books, but it's not his worst, either. I've read in three or four times, and I find that it grows on me...
(Part of that may be because of the fact that I've been working on the COMPLETE SHORT FICTION OF CLIFFORD D. SIMAK for the last few years, which led me to read and re-read a lot of his works, including the novels -- and that in turn has allowed me to notice similarities, or at least points of comparison, from one novel to the next, and between novels and short stories...
Sp.Del. is, I think, one of those novels that a reader familiar with Cliff's work can look at and say "this one was created when Cliff's subconscious wanted to take another crack at some ideas he'd used in books before." That is, I think Cliff, probably unintentionally, would sometimes pull out a concept he had used before, and examine it from another angle...I like that.)
 

Hugh

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I guess I would not call SPECIAL DELIVERANCE one of Cliff's best books, but it's not his worst, either. I've read in three or four times, and I find that it grows on me...
(Part of that may be because of the fact that I've been working on the COMPLETE SHORT FICTION OF CLIFFORD D. SIMAK for the last few years, which led me to read and re-read a lot of his works, including the novels -- and that in turn has allowed me to notice similarities, or at least points of comparison, from one novel to the next, and between novels and short stories...
Sp.Del. is, I think, one of those novels that a reader familiar with Cliff's work can look at and say "this one was created when Cliff's subconscious wanted to take another crack at some ideas he'd used in books before." That is, I think Cliff, probably unintentionally, would sometimes pull out a concept he had used before, and examine it from another angle...I like that.)
Agreed. On my first reading I just sped through, then, as so often happens, a couple of Simak readers said it was among their favourites. On my next reading I took time to savour it, and liked it very much more. I also appreciate the economy of his prose: some writers would have turned this into a trilogy, and gone off on all kinds of tangents.
I think this came out in 1982, which would make Cliff seventy eight at that time!
 
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BAYLOR

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He wrote book called Cemetery World , which ive yet to read.
What does anyone think about Special Deliverance? I haven't read it or got a copy. A firned listed it with about 20 other books he has read three or more times -- and it was the only one of them that he did not recommend.
I just realized I have this particular book.
 

Bick

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He wrote book called Cemetery World , which ive yet to read.
It’s the first book I read and reviewed on this very thread - if you check out my posts toward the bottom of page 1, you’ll probably find it.
 

2DaveWixon

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@2DaveWixon,
When can we expect the remaining volumes of The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak?
As you likely know, since I already told you when you asked elsewhere, he-he -- there are two volumes left to go. And they're all finished except for my forewords...
So it's my fault. But when you've done a dozen of those things, it gets harder and harder to do the next one...
Still, I hope to finish by the end of this year, and see them -- well, on-line -- come spring.

Inspiration, strike here, please!
 

Lafayette

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If sorting through Simak's work is like me (on a much smaller scale) sorting through my work than you have my sympathy. God Speed.
 

2DaveWixon

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I'm attempted to say that the hard part's over -- it took me several years to locate copies of some of Cliff's short stories. And it took longer than that to type them all into my computer (thank ghu, the crash that took out my computer in 2003 cost me only 14 stories...). And during the last half of that time, I was trying to persuade publishers to commit to the project.

And yet, somehow, it has all come together! The only fly left in the ointment seems to be me, as I struggle with those last two forewords...

(I sometimes wonder if I'm being blocked by the fear of suddenly finding that the project is complete and there's nothing left for me to do... Will I be found slumped over a blank computer screen? Or will I be last seen entering a forest toting a large backpack?)
 

Piman25

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Your hard work is appreciated. I thought i owned every thing he wrote, but I was wrong. And your commentary is very enlightening and entertaining. I have particularly liked the westerns, which prior to these collections I had not had the opportunity to read.

Take your time. I will purchase them the day they are released. I wish they were available in hard copy, but understand the constraints that prevent that. I have communicated to Open Road that I would buy them in hard copy.

Keep up the good work.
 

Hugh

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There remains one SF story that I haven't read ("Nine Lives"). It took me several years gradually accumulating the others in fits and starts and through the kindness of others. It's been available through Open Road for a while, but I have yet to read it.... though I'd definitely buy that volume if available in paperback. I suspect the real reason for not reading it in ebook form is that then I'd have read his complete works, and that would be truly sad. I prefer to leave one story outstanding as a future treat.
 

2DaveWixon

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There remains one SF story that I haven't read ("Nine Lives"). It took me several years gradually accumulating the others in fits and starts and through the kindness of others. It's been available through Open Road for a while, but I have yet to read it.... though I'd definitely buy that volume if available in paperback. I suspect the real reason for not reading it in ebook form is that then I'd have read his complete works, and that would be truly sad. I prefer to leave one story outstanding as a future treat.
Hugh, perhaps I can offer you an alternative? That is, you can read "Nine Lives" without feeling that you have read all the Simak there is...
Two things: Cliff's journals show that he wrote some stories that were never published: (1) some of those were simply not accepted for publication, and while many of those have vanished, a few still exist.
But more intriguing: (2) the journals indicate that at least one story was indeed sold to a magazine -- but I cannot find any indication that it was ever published (and, (2)(a): those journals also say that Cliff sold more westerns than I can account for, and I wonder whether some might have been published in some magazine I have not found...or even under a different name (Cliff is not known to have used a nom de plume, publishers in the forties might have done that to one of his stories...).).
 

Hugh

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Hugh, perhaps I can offer you an alternative? That is, you can read "Nine Lives" without feeling that you have read all the Simak there is...
Two things: Cliff's journals show that he wrote some stories that were never published: (1) some of those were simply not accepted for publication, and while many of those have vanished, a few still exist.
But more intriguing: (2) the journals indicate that at least one story was indeed sold to a magazine -- but I cannot find any indication that it was ever published (and, (2)(a): those journals also say that Cliff sold more westerns than I can account for, and I wonder whether some might have been published in some magazine I have not found...or even under a different name (Cliff is not known to have used a nom de plume, publishers in the forties might have done that to one of his stories...).).
....while many of those have vanished, a few still exist.
Do you have any of these unpublished stories? If so any chance of publication? "Pipeline to Destiny" was well worth reading.

I've read very few of his western and air stories: I can see why he lost interest in writing them (assuming he lost interest rather than the magazines folding), though they're still fun in their way. My interest has always been the SF. Maybe one day...

I do have a copy of his "Prehistoric Man", though I've only dipped into it.
 

2DaveWixon

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I do have a number of the unpublished stories. Some are only fragments, unfinished stories. But some were finished enough to have been submitted to magazines -- only to be rejected. (Some are still in the envelopes used to ship them back to Cliff from the magazine.)
I doubt there's much chance of publishing them -- mostly, they're old, and justifiably unpublished.
My memory says the group includes at least one western and one mystery, as well as several sf and fantasy. Some appear to be either attempts to write sequels to stories published in the thirties, or first drafts of those stories...and not very good ones.

I'm not really sure just why Cliff stopped writing westerns -- he got into those from very early in his writing career, and I suspect that was because it was the predominant genre in a rural area in the early thirties. But his "boom" in westerns was certainly the result of World War II, when that kind of magazine blossomed in response to the need to provide reading material for the soldiers...the "boom" was vigorous enough that they paid really well, as compared to sf. (And the same is true of the air war stories.)

I don't really know when those western manazines folded, but that might explain why Cliff's journals show him as having sold more westerns than I can account for... I'd like to find some font of knowledge about western short stories comparable to the way sf is kept track of...

Cliff, it is clear, would not have been satisfied to do westerns in the "standard" format, or style...he wanted to do them differently, and it shows. They're not the usual western, particularly the later ones.
We're missing any Simak journals for the forties -- they might have been lost somehow, or he might have just been too busy. But if he had kept such journals, they might have answered a lot of questions...
 

Hugh

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I do have a number of the unpublished stories. Some are only fragments, unfinished stories. But some were finished enough to have been submitted to magazines -- only to be rejected. (Some are still in the envelopes used to ship them back to Cliff from the magazine.)
I doubt there's much chance of publishing them -- mostly, they're old, and justifiably unpublished.
My memory says the group includes at least one western and one mystery, as well as several sf and fantasy. Some appear to be either attempts to write sequels to stories published in the thirties, or first drafts of those stories...and not very good ones.

I'm not really sure just why Cliff stopped writing westerns -- he got into those from very early in his writing career, and I suspect that was because it was the predominant genre in a rural area in the early thirties. But his "boom" in westerns was certainly the result of World War II, when that kind of magazine blossomed in response to the need to provide reading material for the soldiers...the "boom" was vigorous enough that they paid really well, as compared to sf. (And the same is true of the air war stories.)

I don't really know when those western manazines folded, but that might explain why Cliff's journals show him as having sold more westerns than I can account for... I'd like to find some font of knowledge about western short stories comparable to the way sf is kept track of...

Cliff, it is clear, would not have been satisfied to do westerns in the "standard" format, or style...he wanted to do them differently, and it shows. They're not the usual western, particularly the later ones.
We're missing any Simak journals for the forties -- they might have been lost somehow, or he might have just been too busy. But if he had kept such journals, they might have answered a lot of questions...
Many thanks indeed Dave, it's always a pleasure to get further details on Cliff.

There's one question I've always meant to ask you, so I may as well do it now...

Did you ever get a look at his bookshelves? I'd be interested to know if there was any significant esoteric/spiritual/fortean stuff. I'm particularly thinking of the influences on Way Station.
 

2DaveWixon

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Many thanks indeed Dave, it's always a pleasure to get further details on Cliff.

There's one question I've always meant to ask you, so I may as well do it now...

Did you ever get a look at his bookshelves? I'd be interested to know if there was any significant esoteric/spiritual/fortean stuff. I'm particularly thinking of the influences on Way Station.
Yes, I did spend time with his bookshelves -- they were right behind his desk, where I would sit when I paid his bills or answered his correspondence, in his later years.
Can't really help with your thesis, though -- the majority of Cliff's books (as reflected on those shelves) -- consisted of sf books sent to him by publishers hoping to get a good review they could use. (Cliff would generally hang onto those for a while and then give them away.)
I think Cliff's own reading matter was mostly in history -- and particularly of the U.S. Civil War, which you may know was dear to him for its connection to his grandfather. But he also had a variety of other history (it was fun for me to see that he had many books that I had also collected...)

I seem to recall that he did have one or two books along the lines of which you were thinking. But what I remember for that were a few books that he kept, not on those bookshelves, but near his easy chair, which was upstairs -- specifically, a set of Shakespeare, a set of Proust, and a set of Thoreau.

(Apologies in advance, since with a little time more details may return to me -- it's been a long time since I last saw those shelves...)

Re WAY STATION: I believe it's a kind of homage to the grandfather I mentioned above...so in that way, perhaps the Civil War books fit your thesis.
 

Hugh

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Yes, I did spend time with his bookshelves -- they were right behind his desk, where I would sit when I paid his bills or answered his correspondence, in his later years.
Can't really help with your thesis, though -- the majority of Cliff's books (as reflected on those shelves) -- consisted of sf books sent to him by publishers hoping to get a good review they could use. (Cliff would generally hang onto those for a while and then give them away.)
I think Cliff's own reading matter was mostly in history -- and particularly of the U.S. Civil War, which you may know was dear to him for its connection to his grandfather. But he also had a variety of other history (it was fun for me to see that he had many books that I had also collected...)

I seem to recall that he did have one or two books along the lines of which you were thinking. But what I remember for that were a few books that he kept, not on those bookshelves, but near his easy chair, which was upstairs -- specifically, a set of Shakespeare, a set of Proust, and a set of Thoreau.

(Apologies in advance, since with a little time more details may return to me -- it's been a long time since I last saw those shelves...)

Re WAY STATION: I believe it's a kind of homage to the grandfather I mentioned above...so in that way, perhaps the Civil War books fit your thesis.
Many thanks as ever. I've had a real longing to get a glimpse of his bookshelves and now I've had one via yourself.

In Way Station I've been particularly interested in the wonderful scenario of Lucy and the Talisman, and whether there was any particular influence in Cliff's reading/belief systems that might have generated these images.

It must have been awe-inspiring for the Simak brothers to spend their childhoods seeing their grandfather's cavalry sabre hanging on the farmhouse wall and hearing stories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg.
 
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2DaveWixon

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1a Red Sun 2.jpg


Above is the cover from Wonder Stories, the Dec., 1931 issue -- the one that contained the first publication of a Cliff Simak sf story (see the bottom right corner of this cover...). The interior illos included a line drawing of Cliff himself, uncredited but presumably done by the magazine's Art Director, Frank R. Paul.
I am continued enthralled to imagine what it must have felt like to be Cliff, when his first published story (fiction, I mean) not only appeared, but was blazoned on the cover -- and was published with his own image...!
(For those who have not noticed, Bick started a new thread recently aimed at talking about the members' covers from "golden age" SF. It's not specifically a Simak thread, but with Bick and I involved, Simak covers have turn up a lot.
I'll be adding more to this thread, too...
 
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2DaveWixon

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aa Barb IMG_0467 (1).JPG


One of Cliff's stories was the cover story (not the illustration here, just the headline at the top of the page...) for this Western magazine... (Cliff's story was submitted as "Blood Buys Barb Wire," but the title was changed before publication.)
Despite the illo above, the story was -- as Cliff often made them -- not your usual western fiction -- in this case, the story was about that cliché, a range war -- but the hero was the "drummer" who sold barbed wire to farmers in the West...
 

2DaveWixon

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1a Immigrant IMG_0475 (1).JPG


This is a shot of the cover of the issue of ASTOUNDING in which Cliff Simak's story "Immigrant" first appeared. (Note that the story is mis-named "Immigration" on this cover, but that was a publishing error.)
The piece of art shown here was created by Kelly Freas.
Kelly had a fun story to tell about doing it: the art has meaning, of course, with its child's toys laid out progressing toward a spaceship: as he told it to Cliff, he had originally presented John Campbell (the editor of ASTOUNDING) with a cover that Kelly described as "shiny gray" -- but John handed it back and said that it "needed grass."
That made Kelly angry; so he took the painting home, snarling that if John wanted grass, he would by god get grass...and he spent the evening laying in individual blades of grass in excruciating detail.
And the next morning, when Kelly awoke, he took a look at the painting and realized that John had been right: it needed grass!
.
It was actually Cliff who told me that story -- and he was doing so as we looked at the original of this art, hanging on a wall in his office. Cliff said he had liked it so much that he called Kelly to ask if he could buy it.
Kelly said that he did not normally sell his paintings, but he would in this case -- but he refused to take more than one dollar and an autographed copy of CITY.
Cliff finally agreed; and the next day he went to his bank and had them sell him two silver dollars -- one shiny and new (this was a while ago, understand...), and one that was the oldest one they had.
He sent both to Kelly, with a note telling him that it was no good having a silver dollar unless you had two "to rub together."
After Cliff died, his son inherited the painting; and when Scott died, it went to his sister.
 
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