Archive for August, 2009

postheadericon Hardback Collection

The hardback collection is coming along nicely. I’m waiting for this month’s credit card bill to arrive and – ouch – be paid before I start looking to buy further books to get toward completing my hard back collection of Bob Shaw’s work.

There are only a few to get now (I must have miscounted in the previous post):

The Palace Of Eternity – one of Bob Shaw’s really early novels. Any copies of this one that have turned up in searches tend to be quite expensive.

1 Million Tomorrows – An early novel and hardly showing on book searches in hardback edition from Gollancz.

The Two Timers – another early novel. Very few copies seem to be coming up for this book and it is quite expensive when it does appear. I have this in SF Book Club hardback.

Tomorrow Lies In Ambush – short story collection, expensive in the UK but reasonable price outside the UK. 

The Ceres Solution – great novel from the early eighties. Quite a surprise that there aren’t more copies of this available. The only ones I’ve come across in book searches seem to be SF Book Club editions.

A Better Mantrap -  short story collection and very tricky to get. A few ex-library editions kicking about but I’m not going to bite for ex-library. And they are being sold at quite high prices.

Galactic Tours – this one seems to be appearing more regularly at reasonable prices.

It seems the two hardest of Bob Shaw’s books to get in hard back are among the first two I bought; A Better Mantrap and The Ceres Solution. Coincidentally, to date, the cheapest book I’ve bought and the most expensive book I’ve bought turn out to be one and the same: Other Days, Other Eyes. The SF Book Club edition of that one was free as I got a full refund; it was advertised as the Gollancz edition. The Gollancz edition was bought from a shop in the Book town in the Borders of Scotland (can’t remember the name of the town) over the internet a short time later.

There is also the fact that I have several of his works in hardback only. If I can find cheap enough editions I may get paperback copies of those works to complete my paperback collection.

Once the hardbacks (and perhaps paperbacks) are completed there’s the daunting task of collecting the short stories not anthologised: which means dozens of magazines.

postheadericon 1 Million Tomorrows, Pan, Paperback, ISBN 0-330-235273

A bit short on posts here this month. One Million Tomorrows is one of Shaw’s earlier novels, from the early seventies.

At present I’ve only go a tatty old Pan paperback of this novel, bought second hand years ago. The hardback edition is quite rare. Copies are available online but the prices aren’t tempting enough for me to purchase at this time.

Even on the first page Shaw delivers plenty of images to tell the reader they are in a very different world: pills to stop hangovers, weather control teams, compcards and a telepres that project images.

The world is full of funkies and cools: functional humans who can have sex and procreate and cools who have ‘tied off’ by using an immortality drug, the consequences of which is that men are no longer able to have sex or children. I wonder if the writer of Highlander read this novel? The immortals there couldn’t have children either.

Right in the very first chapter the man character, Willy Carewe, is given what he considers to be an impossible offer; to become immortal and still have children. Unfortunately his wife doesn’t take kindly to the offer, thinking it a ploy of his.

One of the consequences of possibly thousands of years of life Shaw speculates is the emergence of the ‘bitch society’. Shaw suggests that the more macho elements of man’s behaviour would dissipate or be forced from society due to what could be lost to each individual. Wars and aggressive behaviour have mostly faded as mankind and men take the security of thousands of years of life over violence.

His marriage broken Carewe volunteers for work in Africa. There he finds that society is forcing immortality on people. His regret at his actions in helping to make people immortal against their will gets him a knife in the lung from a native as reward. The description of this murder attempt in the hospital I found very vivid and how the account Shaw gives of the collapsed lung of the protagonist and how it sounded during the fight was very real and even a little unsettling.

While he is in hospital there is an overt attempt on his life, to go with the covert ones he suspected. Further attempts on his life and the disappearance of his wife lead Carewe to the guilty parties.

There are plenty of good ideas in this novel but the story line isn’t one of Shaw’s strongest. The main character isn’t the strongest or most memorable of Shaw’s protagonists and I didn’t really warm to him on the first reading all those years ago. I skipped through the book to refresh my memory and my opinion didn’t change.

It’s a fairly good novel, very readable, a reasonable thriller with a few twists and turns – although they appear later in the book rather than being spread throughout it – and is written in Shaw’s easy going and vibrant style.

It’s Shaw’s third or fourth novel, and I guess he was still finding his literary and stylistic feet: at that time he would also have been more comfortable with the short story than the novel. It isn’t one of his best works, the maturity of his later novels allowed him to fill out the books with more interesting incidents which advanced the plot and built on the characters and here, in 1 Million Tomorrows, he is still learning that craft or isn’t fully utilising it.