Uncanny Valley Digest: Cordwainer Smith Redux

Smith with his cats, Melanie and Griselda, 1956. (C’Mell was inspired by Melanie.) Click image for source article.

Our Cordwainer Smith discussion twanged like a rubber rock band! We’ve read Cordwainer Smith before, but wanted to drill down a little deeper. For good background information, below is a link to a 2018 piece in Johns Hopkins Magazine on Smith. He was raised at a tense and interesting historical double crossroads between American Western and Chinese Eastern, as well as Dynastic China giving way to Communist China.


In a letter to his agent, Linebarger explained that his stories “intended to lay bare the human mind, to throw torches over the underground lakes of the human soul, to show the chambers wherein the ageless dramas of self-respect, God, courage, sex, love, hope, envy, decency, and power go on forever.”

Smith with one of his beloved cats. Click image for Hoover Institution source page.

Smith’s real name (though he had many) was Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. His father was Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger, a U.S. judge in the Philippines who became an early financial supporter and legal adviser to Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China. Cordwainer’s father made sure he was born in the U.S.A., but was soon after brought to China, and christened Lin Bah Loh (Forest of Incandescent Bliss). Sun Yat-sen was his godfather. Young Paul would spend most of his childhood either in China or in a boarding school in Hawaii. At the latter, he lost his eye in a nasty tussle with a fellow student. His adolescent imagination was active, instead of a journal he kept a notebook of alternate identities for himself, like a young Jason Bourne. He grew up to work in the military and with CIA intelligence, mostly in creating anti-communist propaganda for the Chinese.

A lot of the subtext of reading Smith is the knowledge that he was a careerist of psychological warfare, particularly during the Cold War era. We’re talking about a time when the U.S. military was testing hallucinogenics on human subjects, often with the goal of weaponizing them. So there are some weird psychological hints in his writing that imply Smith may be blowing off steam about some disturbing things he’s seen in his line of work that he can’t actually talk about.

It looks like Cordwainer Smith prefigured lots of stuff. Here are some quality books and movies that were recommended during this discussion:
True Names (1968) by Vernor Vinge. (imagined the internet, particularly trolls and hackers wreaking havoc and the cops try to find them)
The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman (a Vietnam era sci-fi)
The Overstory (2018) by Richard Powers (culture civilization in the canopy of trees)
Adiamante (1996) – L.E. Modesitt Jr. (a planetary defense system like the kittons, and hate-filled invaders)
Film: A Face In The Crowd, starring Andy Griffith (as you’ve never seen him before). Strongly recommended by Meg.

Now, the notes!

by 1-0-4, at deviantart. Click image to visit the artist’s site.

Scanners Live In Vain
Meg: His first published story, 1950. This story was published last resort in a rinky dink sci-fi magazine. Then it was anthologized by Frederick Pohl, and that’s when Smith’s career started.
Nowell: Please, stop saying “cranch.”

Martel can’t hear. He’s deaf by interface. The scanners are separated from their physiology and interact with it via machines. Sort of like remote avatar mech fighting.

Scanners have awareness without senses. They use a “talking finger” with abbreviations that resemble texting. “Is Vmct mad?”
“Bzz Bzz. Ha ha. Gd ol’ boy.”

Not exactly an avatar mech body, but a body modified, all functions routed through a control panel before reaching the brain.

Cordwainer Smith had a false eye and was nearly blind in the other. He taught his students: Notice everything, but be prepared for surprises. Then he’d pop out his eye and freak them out.

Nice twist: a new technology that will make scanners obsolete.

So, a scanner revolt is brewing. Who is the master and who is the slave?
In the Instrumentality of Mankind interstellar travel, genetically preserved humans, and a sub-class of homunculus. The humans aren’t cyborg at all. They get super old because they travel interstellar.

Habermans and scanners man the interstellar ships while cryogenically protected humans sleep. They are like the spiced-out space folding pilots in Dune.

Nowell: It’s interesting to read this Cold War era sci-fi because it gives glimpses into a world we didn’t live in. Reading contemporary sci-fi we can see todays concerns reflected – the climate, government stability – it’s a little on the nose for me. But here in the old sci-fi we see the social concerns of the Cold War era.

The scanners fancy themselves their own elite class and always exist in a temporal state, an inhuman fugue state. Only Martel, who is cranched at the meeting, has the human sense to see the revolt is wrong.

Humans can communicate better than scanners. In the Insturmentality, it appears that humans are telepathic.

The scanners are so isolated that they aren’t as important as they think they are. Stone is not afraid of the scanner at all, and barely believes that one wants to kill him. The scanners are a small fringe, perhaps.

What has Smith seen? What does he hint at that the average American does not know? Like about toppling cels and fringe governments?

What’s the difference between a haberman and a scanner? The haberman cuts are reversible. And by the end, so are the scanner cuts now. All scanners can be human again. They didn’t live in vain! 🙂 (Except the one he killed to save Adam Stone.)

Found C’mell, by Lia Chan. Click image for aritist’s page.

The Ballad Of Lost C’mell
The quirk is pronounced.
Nowell: Damn dude, you went there.
Suhail: To make it a little kookier, C’Mell is inspired by one of Smith’s household cats, named “Cat Melanie.”
This speaks to Smith’s tendency to tweak a plot point, like cat-gene geisha girls.
What capitalism can/will become:
p.2 “If they became bankrupt, they went to the Poorhouse, where they were killed painlessly by means of gas.”

Meg: He mixes tones and registers. A lot of it is very pulpy, yet there’s a different flavor.

Another revolt theme, like in “Scanners Live In Vain.” How many insurgent cels did Smith ferret out?

cmell by Pierre Lacombe

C’Mell by Pierre Lacombe, 1974. Click image for source page.

The animal stock bred underhumans are the new frontier of civil rights. Civil rights conflict is always defusing otherness. Being genetically unmodified is a sign of superiority.

Let’s discuss the Instrumentality. What is it like? Fascist? Utopian? Why is it so hard to tell the difference?

C’mell, the “girlygirl” is a translation of an Asian concept. A geisha’s world.
“You may be working for Earth but don’t ever get the idea that you’re as good as a person.”

Jestocost and C’mell – who’s the master and who’s the slave? Gets a little under your skin then veers off.

It feels like he’s, in part, processing his career in military intelligence and his own life being raised in China, himself growing up as an other.

“There’s a special sort of majesty to kindness. It’s the best part of being people.”

Was intel bureaucracy like this? Bureaucratic maneuverings and meetings (in both stories “C’mell” and “Scanners“). More meetings and discussions than actions. But he gets away with it by having so many tiny reveals and subtexts.

Western Science Is So Wonderful
Spy vs. spy stuff about telepathy and psychological manipulation.
Meg: It’s baffling.
Nowell: An American, a German, and a Russian walk into a Martian demon…
Meg: The thin boundary between science and magic depends on your cultural perspective.

How does this fit into some kind of anti-Communist vein we’d expect from Smith’s work? What have scholars said about this?

The Martian with a fetish for lighters changes himself into a solid gold milk truck?
As Meg said: It’s baffling.

The Good Friends
Give me a break. 🙂 Why does this era of sci-fi hate women so much? (This will come up in The Calculating Stars, by the way, which is set in the 1950s, but from a feminist perspective.)

Hypo kits? Intravenous drug, and safety apparatus like a mask.

Underwhelming. It seemed like it was part of a tragedy.
Meg: Great setup with doctor and nurse and the shot. It seems nefarious. Is it a psy-ops thing? Is he being interrogated? Nope, falls flat.

What was in that shot? What about the nurse? It’s the girl that’s going to cry, of course.

Meg: A story that rode on a single concept  but not much was done with it plot-wise.

A stranded space traveler is suffering from hallucinogenic madness after 20 years on isolation. Imaginary friends and lots of drugs.

Image by Virgil Finlay, Galaxy Magazine, 1961

Mother Hittons Little Kittons (1961)
Cat and mouse. So much cloak and dagger. Them (the instrumentality) being so many steps ahead of this off-world thief/assassin.

What is this name about? 🙂 Benjacomin Bozart. Benjacomin’ to get ya’!
Benjacomin is from a planet of thieves. But the Norstralians were already ahead of him. Some of the spies were unaware that some of the spies were their allies.

Benjacomin is cultishly charasmatic, but all for naught. He kills a child for information, he’s viscous. Comforts the mother. Evil so near, a flash away. A predator of children. That Cordwainer way of suddenly and briefly turning the dial to 11. Dark side assassin. It’s like Smith knows people like this.

Woah. “He who controls the spice…” kind of stuff.
Norstrailia made a youth drug: santaclara, or “stroon.”
“With treasure like this, the Norstralians owned an unimaginable world whose resources overreached all conceivable limits of money. They could buy anything. They could pay with other peoples’ lives.”
Oh fuck. Like the Sacklers.

Meg: A mixture of all that animal energy focused and projected outward.

A real paper book, with an entry [which we later learned was falsified by agents] about Benjamin Hitton, who made the Norstarlian defense system possible.

Hint at space propulsion technology. Is this a “warp” drive?
Space passengers are sedated for travel.
Each “world” is a country.

PKDesque stuff, drawing from his professional life. Spies and double agents, Cold War operative stuff.

Heh. Taking down political leaders, in a nutshell. “The agent, in his turn had been seduced years before, debauched in the middle of his career, forced into temporary honesty, blackmailed and sent home. ”

Misinformation, propagandization, pervasive and subtle. False encyclopedia entry.

David, did PKD express any interest in, or influence from, Cordwainer Smith?
They were contemporaries, but worked in different idioms. Smith died in 1966, just as Dick’s career was taking off. Smith seems nostalgic for the pulps and wants to relive his youth.

Nowell: We need our Dick-Head! Call in the Dick-Head.

Olympians are naturally blind. They’re all like Jordi LaForge!

Even though Benjacomin is plying his evil, Norstralia’s on the case.

“Sin is a lot of work. The sheer effort it requires often shows in the human face.”

Meg: This story feels like the most polished of the ones we’ve read. “Western Science” seemed like a draft, a lark written by the seat of his pants. But this one is more refined.

An Old North Australia sea shanty. “Stroon” grows on sheep.

Mother Hitton has backups. Kittons: wild killing animals bred from mink stock. The kittons’ rage empowers an emphatic satellite defense system relayed off the moon. [This is a lot like Adiamante with the ruthless planetary defense system powered by psionics.]

“Pin-lighters.” The pilots from “Game of Rat and Dragon.”

Benjacomin mink-attacked! The mink hunger and bloodlust infuses his psyche and he destroys himself in a blind rage. He rips out his left eyeball. (Cordwainer is one-eyed.)

This is that sore tooth smith plays with, Those dark places inside a person’s own psyche that can literally destroy the person. That realm of psychological warfare. Turning the person against itself. Like “the revolutionary,” in Gene Wolfe’s Shadow Of The Torturer.

Turns out Benjacomin was never a step ahead of the Norstralians.

And Viola Siderea (Benjacomin’s home planet of thieves and assassins.) is in debt to Norstralia for ever. Not just for a mink satellite counter assassination, but an economic assassination as well. Norstralia hits with a heavy hammer.

Recalls what Meg said about the way Smith mixes tones. Hokey, yet gruesome.


Thank you for reading. Reading Rules!

Further reading:
The Official Cordwainer Smith website, run by his daughter Rosana Hart

A Hoover Institution description of Smith and his archives at the Institution.

An article by Rosana Hart about Smith, his cats, and her childhood.


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Uncanny Valley Digest: PKD’s Man In The High Castle

My copy, with notepad.

Our Phil Dick discussion taught me the difference between a raven and a writing desk. I learned some things about The Man In The High Castle that refreshed and corrected my perspective on this novel’s place in Dick’s canon. I knew that the novel won him a Hugo award, but was under the misapprehension that the Hugo award was later in his career. All wrong. He won the Hugo in 1963, after writing Time Out Of Joint, but before every other notable title in his opus: Palmer Eldritch, Game Players Of Titan, Now Wait For Last Year, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Martian Time Slip. Books considered Dick’s masterpieces came in the wake of this book, not the other way around. Well, I didn’t know, so there.

Sample of Ted Hand’s PKD Tarot & I Ching

And that’s why it was a godsend to have Phil Dick scholar and metal guitar player David Gill in the house. (He didn’t pick up his guitar during the discussion, which must have taken a lot of restraint.) Also we were lucky to be fortified by Dick scholar via a unique perspective on mysticism and occult knowledge, Ted Hand.

(Do not miss Ted Hand’s PKD Tarot Deck!)

Adding some science fiction literary backbone was the forthright Meg Schoerke, Professor of Literature, and instructor of the Science Fiction survey course, at San Francisco State University. Composer and filmmaker Nowell Valeri was there, with his trusty, insightful cinema aesthetic and musical mind. I was again in the greatest of company.

The notes!

Gill: Dick moved to Point Reyes, finished Time Out Of Joint, wrote a bunch of mainstream novels that got rejected. So he helped Anne Dick sell the jewelry she was making. (This gives some perspective into his vivid renderings of Frank Frink’s jewelry making business.) It was the golden age of his marriage to Anne, their one happy year. He wrote this book to bullshit his way out of helping Anne with the jewelry business.

Meg: A James Joycian stab at a mainstream sci fi.

Gill: Winning the Hugo for High Castle gave him lots of confidence and subsequently produced some of his best works. Then he wrote Palmer Eldritch, Game Players Of Titan, Now Wait For Last Year, Martian Time Slip. Biographically, it’s a fascinating work to understand Dick’s development as a writer and the books it helped him produce.

Who were the other nominees at the 1963 Hugo Awards?

  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick [Putnam, 1962]
  • Sword of Aldones by Marion Zimmer Bradley [Ace, 1961]
  • A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke [Harcourt, Brace & World, 1962]
  • Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper [Avon, 1962]
  • Sylva by Vercors, translated by Rita Barisse [Putnam, 1961]

Also, the 1963 Hugo’s were presided over by toastmaster Issac Asimov. So yes, I can see what Dave means about the confidence booster. Dick beat out Arthur C. Clarke, and Asimov is the MC for his award. He’s in white male heaven. HA! Dave is sure that if Dick didn’t win this Hugo, he wouldn’t have produced his masterpieces.

This was Dick’s breakout novel, him trying to do more serious, but he’s within the sci-fi limits. He’s not content to do pulp.

Gill: “It seems like he doesn’t understand how heavy handed his style is. There’s a weird sex scene in Three Stigmata that has the word ‘greenless.'”


Also, a word from Dave, reporting something Dick said about Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land: “You could roll a joint in that book, and you still wouldn’t get off.”

Back to Dick’s literary aspirations and High Castle
At this time, Anthony Boucher is Dick’s friend and kind of mentor. A literary scene guy who takes Dick under his wing. A “greatest guy of all time,” kind of guy. (and Herb Hollander, the record store owner.) But that and the move to Pt. Reyes changed him into a class-conscious Dickensian character, gross. He styled himself a Bohemian Berkeley dude who – first change he gets – guns for the life of a country squire. Leaving Cleo for it. He yearned to be the next cigar smoking, hard drinking Thomas Pynchon or John Cheever.

Suhail: Why is this book different (better?) than a lot of his others? Is it science fiction? Yes, German automation culture. An alternate present, set and written in 1962. Not exactly an alternative history or future, but an alternate reality.

Suhail: Dave is this his template from that letter…? Start out with the sub character, then next character is the absolute rock bottom, then jump and introduce an apex character 3rd.

Gill: Yes. Childan, then Frick, then Tagomi.

Dick’s paranoia themes and post WWII America.
Meg: Dick’s paranoia themes were contemporary. Sci-fi had a resonance to mainstream literature of the times.

Gill: The Philip Roth comedian…the ennui and the paranoia after WWII. We won the war, but we lost our souls.

Meg: It was contemporary literature’s big thing. Orwell’s 1984 already spearheaded it, in a way. Thomas Pynchon, Joan Didion’s essays that capture the paranoia of he Mansons, John Cheever, Hunter S. Thompson’s new journalism.

Gill: Dick’s wife Cleo suggested Man In The Grey Flannel Suit, about the horror of that obsequiousness to corporate culture. Another book suggestion. A novelized biography of PKD, called I Am Alive And You Are Dead, by Emmanuel Carrere.

Gill: If there are other realities, what makes this one the real one?

A Comparison To The TV Series
Ted: It is certainly not a novel about resisting Fascism. There’s no underground organizing going on like in the TV show. All of the fascist life is shown, not told. That’s part of the book’s power, part of what makes is sufficiently uncomfortable to read, it’s a view of fascism from the inside out. Naked uses of power. The consequences of making social mistakes are dire.

It’s more of a novel of occupation, where the TV show is a story of resistance. There is zero talk of a resistance movement in this book. In the novel, it’s a picture of fascist society from the inside out. It’s creepy.

Other cinema suggestions, based on how this novel works: Meg suggested “A Face In The Crowd,” starring Andy Griffith in a chilling role of a political sociopath who cons his way to the top. This film predates Network, and is in some ways about the power of media and politics. Also Scorsese’s “King Of Comedy.”

More On Dick’s Style And Background Knowledge
Dick’s obsessive reading streaks. Did he know about Niels Bohr? Was Dick part of the avante garde of the alternate realities theme? It’s so mainstream now, it’s almost trite. But in 1963?

Click image to go to their shop.

Meg: He gets the Japanese concept of Otaku, collector’s fetishism.

Gill: A Delany essay about genre differences. Fantasy, sci-fi, journalism, etc. And in this essay he puts alternate histories/futures in the sci-fi genre. It reminds me of The Simulacrum, another multi-foci novel, with a different character’s perspective per chapter.

Dick wrote a couple of chapters of a sequel to this novel, and always wanted to make a sequel.

Gill: It is kind of prequelesque.

Ted: Dick employs what I call a “theophany of the glimpse.” You always only get a glimpse of the world at a time. A gnostic approach. This world is unreal, and there is a real world we are acquiring information from in glimpses. For example, he has a light touch with world-building, and leaves the rest to the reader’s imagination.

Meg: I loved the street names and place details. But the tweaks like, ‘Was there a police station at Kearny?’ ‘No.’

A Key To Interpreting This Book
Gill: At PKD festival 2012, Lawrence Rickles said: “Psychoanalysis is the opposite of Nazism.”

A very provocative insight. Where Nazism was a total lack of looking inward. The freedom offered by the Nazi’s was the freedom from being free, the freedom from having to think for yourself or make choices.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy || The Man In The High Castle
Seven syllables each. It’s the “If the Allies had won” book in his “If the Axis had won” book. A self-referential mirror point, making the whole scenario, all of the people reading it and discussing it, a mirror of us reading and discussing High Castle. Dood.

Magnifying glass not included.

Live Reading Notes
p.3 sex and women are gross. That’s Phil for you.

p.5, 86,88,90,136,218, etc. Lots of note-taker’s writing style. Clipped incomplete sentences strung together to sound proficient, succinct, edgy. Like a crime noir affectation.

p.8-9: Co-Prosperity Movement, like the equal rights and civil rights movements.
Colonization: Germans went to space, didn’t even make TV, just kept the rocket aerospace automation thing going. Japanese went to South America. They split the U.S. at the Rocky mountains.

p.9: “Ogres” passage, a reading.

p.10-11 Dick’s hexagram experiences as fodder

p.12 What’s wrong with a mushroom collecting woman, dood? Frink has adoration and contempt for Julia.

p.18 Poetic ciphers as secret messages to elude Reich monitors. Poetry as spy code.

p.19 The I Ching tells him Baynes is a spy.

p.22 Race-charged. Inhabiting Childan.

p.26 Slaves, dissing “a black.” Jeez, dood.

p.30-31 Race-charged cafe scene.

p.32 “Cynics with utter faith” paragraph. Idealism and frontiers, in satire. How the German Reich perpetrates evil.

p. 33 The evil victors. Syphilitic Hitler, Nazi incest sickness.

p. 37 German psychotic streak, via race.

p. 38 “Their basic madness is believing they are godlike.”

p. 39 A classic table-turning conspiracy Dickian moment, playing to the Jewish conspiracy proclivities of the Nazi evil.

p.44 The American souvenir industry bubble may burst. (p. 140)

p.59-61 The farce of authenticity. “Historicity” sham. (p. 136 again, What’s real? More good PKD. PKD projecting his sexual hangups. Sex and women are gross. FDR was assasinated, that’s how the U.S.A. lost.

p. 68 A Reich value. “Of what use is a newborn baby?” He doesn’t pull any punches about how nasty the German victors are – murder the aged, ethnically cleanse Africa in 15 years, also the champions of space travel, technology, and pharmaceuticals. Everything with a use, a function.

p. 71 Race-charged German superiority. Also “her shift at the judo parlor.” More of that midcentury modern misogyny. I thought she was an instructor, not a happy endings masseuse.

p.75 It’s 1962. Joe’s 34, and 1945 was 17 years ago.

p.76, 79 The cruelty of the Brits, when they knew they were losing. Like Dresden [in real life]?

p. 77 Race-charged Italian stuff.

p.80 Instability of the Reich fascist government now that its founders are dying off.

p. 82 Increased racism is one of Germany’s contributions to the world order.

p. 84 Creepy, Joe’s treatment of Juliana.

p.85 Oswald Spengler’s physiognomic flair

p.92 The genocides were economic catastrophes. Only German tech holds their economy together.

p. 99, 102 More of Childan’s nervousness to please the Japanese. That white shame rendered vividly.

Don’t squint. I typed it up.

p. 103 Is this even sci-fi?

p.122 Novelists and their tricks.

p.127 Kids like that.

p. 129-31 Frink’s obsessiveness. There’s a feeling Dick is writing about one of his own relationships.

p.141 Graft-gift. His interpretation of Japanese culture. How accurate?

p.142 Good scene of Frink and Ed in the truck.

p.148 Dick talking to the I Ching: “At last.” “What a relief!”

p. 158 Two paragraphs, culminating in: “Dilemma of civilized man; body mobilized, but danger obscure.” NAILED IT!

p.168 Aura art talk. Authenticity and “historicity” problem rectified by Frink, with original jewelry.

p. 172 It’s unique, the Japanese man says in praise, so you must mass produce it. Heh. Everything goes to market right away in PDK. Like in Palmer Eldritch.

p.174-6 Great character moment. Subtle mind of conqueror.

p.192 Original Sin means everyone will do some bad in life. Can’t help it.

p. 201 There’s our dark haired girl! Libidinous, even! (p. 247 also)

p.204-5 Juliana defeats Joe, the undercover assassin. Powerful scene, vivid, curious, memorable.

p.217 If someone else finds the way (not you), at least it means there is a way.

p.222 San Francisco setting. Well, the Embarcadero freeway is gone now! “A lot of people think it stinks up the view.” HA!

p.233 Germany is about to do to Japan what it did to the Allies and Africa.

p.235-6 What do we do about the admixture of good and evil?

p. 241 Racist by accident.

p. 245, 238 Written by the I Ching. That book is this book!

p. 247 Germany and Japan did lose the war, by the self-destructive countries they became after defeating the Allies.

See you next time for Cordwainer Smith, the brilliant eccentric.

Thank you for reading. Reading rules!



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Uncanny Valley: Science Fiction Summer Reading Group

Uncanny Valley: Science Fiction Summer Reading

Tip your axis to the sun, summer’s on! Secure the drive plate as we cast off into Uncanny Valley, with your intrepid hosts, David Gill and Suhail Rafidi.

Where & When? (IRL and Online)
Four Wednesday night discussions, 6:00 PM Pacific (6/26, 7/3, 7/10, 7/17)
If you do the readings you can tune in live via Google Hangout. The link:


As usual, I will post the discussion after the event.

What Are We Reading?
Two novels and five short stories, covering three writers: Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle, a packet of short stories by Cordwainer Smith, and Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars. You’ll have to find the novels at your local library, bookstore, or friend’s shelf. The Cordwainer Smith stories are available at Gutenberg Canada, and are linked below.

The Meetings
June 26:
The Man In The High Castle (1963) – Philip K. Dick
July 3rd:The Ballad of Lost C’Mell” (1962) and “Scanners Live In Vain“(1950) by Cordwainer Smith
July 10th:Mother Hittons Littul Kittons,” “Western Science Is So Wonderful,” and ultrashort “The Good Friends,” by Cordwainer Smith
July 17th: The Calculating Stars (2018) – Mary Robinette Kowal

As many of you know David is a Philip K. Dick scholar and the Internet’s first and foremost Total Dick-Head. We will be will be operating in his bailiwick this season, and reading PKD’s The Man In The High Castle (winning the Hugo in 1963). We will be lucky to have the insight of a biographical and literary expert on PKD, David Gill.

Cordwainer Smith was one of the pen names of a guy named Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger. His stories are curious and sometimes whimsical explorations of space travel, reality, and human psychology. He was a Sinologist, Army officer, and Near East scholar who worked for the American intelligence community during the Cold War. During that career, Smith wrote the book on psychological warfare, basically the waging of misinformation campaigns on the civilian populations of enemy countries. To give you a glimpse of his wit, he dedicated that book to his wife. He’s also got a thing for cats, which is right up David’s alley.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars is a modern day alternate history of post WWII America. It is book one in her Lady Astronaut series. We hope it will compare nicely across from Dick’s alternate history in High Castle. It just won the 2019 Nebula for Best Novel.

Now crack a book, and let’s DO THIS! See you soon.
With The Total Dick Head Himself!

Keep track on our Facebook Page:

Thank you for reading. Reading rules!

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