Sunday, March 28, 2010

Story Cycles of Future History: Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind - David Seed

‘Story Cycles of Future History: Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality of Mankind’, in Yearbook of English Studies 31 (2001), pp.133-143.

The first part you can see at Jstor, here :-

Will see if I can find it in a database.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stroon - Unreasonable Software

A site with a few quotes and links, and this :-

"Unreasonable Books will be publishing an original art and prose book, entitled Stroon, devoted to Paul Linebarger and to the worlds he created as Cordwainer Smith. Stroon will be edited by sf writer David Lubkin."

3 out of 5

Cordwainer Smith and Cat - Rosana Hart

Link to a picture of the author.

4 out of 5

SF Personality 11 - Cordwainer Smith

A German bibliography.

3.5 out of 5

Noosfere Bibliography - Cordwainer Smith

A French site.

4.5 out of 5

Yesterday's Tomorrows: Cordwainer Smith - Graham Sleight

"Strangeness, said John Gardner, is the one thing in fiction that cannot be faked. Strangeness is, famously, the defining characteristic of Cordwainer Smith's science fiction, and a good deal of ink is expended in the introductions of the books explaining where that strangeness comes from. (I may be about to do the same.) But strangeness, like newness or transgression, is something cultures are often able to adapt too quickly. So I was very curious, as I reread Smith's first published story, "Scanners Live in Vain" (1950), to see how distinctive it remained."

Cats cruelty and children: Idealism and morality in the Instrumentality of Mankind - Angus McIntyre

"The science-fiction writings of Cordwainer Smith consist of some twenty-odd short stories and two novels, which chart the history of an evolving civilisation over some fifteen thousand years. The history is internally consistent, and each story contributes to a coherent picture of the technological, social and spiritual development of the future described.

In real life, Smith was Dr Paul Linebarger, Professor in Asiatic Studies at Johns Hopkins university and colonel in US military intelligence, accomplished linguist and foreign policy adviser to the state department. His writing style, partly inspired by Chinese narrative techniques, more closely resembles poetry than the conventional dry prose of science-fiction, and his stories are dense with literary and historical references and more or less complex linguistic puns. Running through the entire work is a consistent morality and outlook, whose principal themes recur again and again in stories often written many years apart."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cordwainer Smith - Chris Roberson

On being a slow thickie :-

"Cordwainer Smith
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I tend to be something of a late adopter, when it comes to writers. I didn't read any Fritz Lieber until I was in my early twenties, didn't read any Philip K. Dick until I was 28, and didn't read any Alfred Bester until I was 33. And every time I "discover" one of these writers that everyone has been telling me for years to read, my reaction is a forehead-slapping, "How long has this been going on?" kind of moment.

Well, I've just added another to the list. I picked up Cordwainer Smith's The Rediscovery of Man and Norstrilia last month, additions to my space opera reading list. On Friday, having just finished Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon (which I thought was a gas), and with a little time to kill, I picked up the former of the two books and started to read.

The top of my head blew off, and has been buffeted on a pillar of astonished steam ever since."

3.5 out of 5

No No Not Rogov! - David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Introduction to the story from The Ascent of Wonder

" Cordwainer Smith was the pseudonym of Paul Linebarger, a mysterious and colorful figure who was an expert on psychological warfare (he wrote a standard text) and spent his career in the Intelligence community. He went to college with L. Ron Hubbard, the famous pulp science fiction writer who later invented Scientology, and they published in the same literary magazine. There was apparently some real competitiveness in Linebarger, for he wrote an entire book manuscript (never published) in the late 1940s on the science of mental health. In typical hard sf fashion, both Linebarger and Hubbard were trying to raise psychology to the status of a "real" science.
Nearly all of Smith's science fiction takes place in a consistent future history, "The Instrumentality of Mankind," comprising many stories and one novel, Norstrilia (1975). The series chronicles events in the millennia-long struggle between the human Instrumentality and the Underpeople, intelligent animals biologically transformed into humanlike forms. A devout High Anglican, Smith built complex levels of religious allegory into his series.
As is evident from the foregoing, he was not characteristically an hard sf writer, but he did occasionally explore hard sf territory, although always in an highly ornamented style at the furthest remove from the traditional unornamented prose of scientific reportage normally identified with the "hard stuff."
"No, No, Not Rogov!" is his only sf story set in contemporary times. It is in the mode of invention fiction, but is set in the Soviet Union during the 1940s and beyond. It explores the work of science under totalitarian political conditions, a subject that Linebarger knew well. The setting reflects the ambiguous attitude toward the linkage of the military and scientific establishments that has characterized post-atomic bomb sf. The political/psychological portraits may be assumed to be accurate. It is also a link between the present and his visionary future of the Instrumentality.
The portrayal of experimental science is a chilling parallel to Tiptree's "The Psychologist Who Wouldn't Do Awful Things to Rats." And the portrait of the scientist as a partly-willing political prisoner is an ironic contrast to Kornbluth's "Gomez." It is a work that explodes into something visionary and transcendent and shows Cordwainer Smith's distinctive and unusual voice in sf."

3.5 out of 5

The Rosy Gloom of Cordwainer Smith - John Robinson

"There is a rosy gloom in the stories of Cordwainer Smith. They take place in a candy apple universe where the candy is sometimes hard to find. Whether the picture he creates is painted over the gloom or the gloom painted over the picture is difficult to determine. There seems to be (as the cover of the paperback, The Planet Buyer) a borscht-red tinge of death; a shrouding, damning end to man as we know him and a new man living on afterward in an ever expanding universe."

4 out of 5

Wonder Audio - Cordwainer Smith

Has done an audio version of the Game of Rat and Dragon.

4 out of 5