Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Forgotten Ace Double: The Nemesis from Terra, by Leigh Brackett/Collision Course, by Robert Silverberg

Ace Double Reviews, 55: The Nemesis from Terra, by Leigh Brackett/Collision Course, by Robert Silverberg (#F-123, 1961, $0.40)

Here's an Ace Double consisting of two all but forgotten books -- by two writers who are anything but forgotten! I've written about both Brackett and Silverberg before, so I'll just jump right into discussing the books.
(Covers by Ed Valigursky and Ed Emshwiller)

The Nemesis from Terra is about 42,000 words long. It is the same story as "Shadow Over Mars", from the Fall 1944 Startling Stories. I haven't seen that magazine (and I don't think the story has otherwise been reprinted, except perhaps in the recent Haffner Press collection of early Brackett). So I don't know if the Ace Double version is expanded or otherwise changed.

It's set on a Mars uneasily shared by human colonists and Martians. There is a nascent movement among the Martians for rebellion. The humans, meanwhile, are increasingly controlled by the "Company", and the notional government, which is supposed to support Martian as well as human interests, seems powerless. Rick, the hero, is being chased by Company goons as the story opens -- they will put him to work in the mines. But first he encounters an ancient Martian woman, who sees Rick's "shadow over Mars". Rick then kills her (admittedly in self-defense), making him an enemy to Martians.

(Cover by Earle Bergey)
Finally captured, he goes to work in the mines. But he manages an escape, and links up with the beautiful Mayo McCall, who has been working with a Martian-rights group. He makes another enemy, too, in the Company thug Jaffa Storm. Mayo and he escape and encounter another Martian race, a winged race. Mayo urges him to join the Martian-rights effort, but Rick is more interested in revenge.

Rick is captured by the Martians, including their boy King, and he is punished for his earlier murder. But a Martian rebellion fails utterly. Rick then gains influence, and begins to rally Martians and oppressed humans to his side. Meanwhile Jaffa Storm has murdered his way to the top of the Company, and he has also captured Mayo McCall. Rick's rebellion is successful, but he is again betrayed, and his destiny is resolved in a journey to the North Pole home of the Martian "Thinkers", where Jaffa Storm has fled with Mayo McCall.

It's decent work, early Brackett in more of a tough and cynical mode than the poetic mode she later found. It's interesting, too, in its realpolitik take on the Martian rebellion, and on Rick's ultimate place in civilized society. It's not quite clear that it fits at all well into Brackett's eventual semi-coherent Martian "mythos" -- many of the names of cities are familiar, but the general shape of things doesn't seem to jibe with, say, The Sword of Rhiannon. (Not that this is really a problem.)

Collision Course is about 47,000 words long. It is expanded from a novella in the July 1959 Amazing. The novel was first published in hardcover by the low end firm Thomas Bouregy, in 1961. Presumably this text is unchanged from the hardcover, as the cover says "Complete & Unabridged".

(Cover by Albert Nuetzell)
The Earth of several hundred years in the future is ruled by a technocratic oligarchy. Humans have expanded into space, using STL ships to reach new worlds, and matter transmitters for instantaneous travel to already discovered places. The Technarch McKenzie, one of the thirteen-member ruling council, has sponsored an FTL project which has finally borne fruit. But the first FTL ship returns with shocking news: the planet they have discovered is already occupied by aliens of a similar level of development.

The Technarch immediately decides to send a group of experts to negotiate with the aliens -- the first intelligent aliens to be discovered. They have orders to divvy up the galaxy fairly. This small group is nominally led by Dr. Martin Bernard, an expert on Sociometrics, and it includes one of his chief rivals, the New Puritan Thomas Havig. The trip out to the new planet is occupied with a certain amount of bickering between the members of the negotiating team.

But once on the planet, after some good work in setting up communication with the apparently very hierarchical aliens, the team hits a deadlock. The aliens chiefs refuse to negotiate, and claim all the galaxy (except for the small portion occupied by humans) for themselves. It seems war is inevitable. But the journey home is interrupted by something completely unexpected -- something which changes the view of the universe for both the humans and the aliens.

This is Silverberg in a very earnest mood, dealing with some fairly serious issues. However, the story doesn't really live up to its potential. It's rather slow paced, the characters are not quite believable, the story itself is just not interesting enough. I would characterize it (in retrospect!) as the work of an author who was determined to do more serious work, but who was not yet up to it.

Birthday Review: Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Birthday Review: Atonement, by Ian McEwan

a review by Rich Horton

Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948, so in honor of his 70th birthday, I am resurrecting this piece I wrote for my newsgroup long ago, on his best-known novel.

Ian McEwan is one of the most highly-regarded novelists working today, and with damn good reason. I first encountered him, oddly enough, in the pages of Ted White's Fantastic, back in the mid-70s, with a story called "Solid Geometry". That was a very odd and quite excellent story, and McEwan's name stuck in my mind. So I later read his first story collection, First Love, Last Rites, very fine work. I kind of lost touch for a while, though I noticed that he was beginning to be widely praised. I did eventually read his creepy and scary first novel, The Cement Garden, about a nearly feral set of siblings living alone in a decaying neighborhood. That novel, along with the stories in First Love, Last Rites, and later works like The Child in Time (about the kidnapping of a three year old) gave him a reputation as sort of a contemporary psychological horror writer, a reputation which it seems to me slightly retarded his overall recognition. (That is to say, he was highly praised, but often with a sort of caveat, suggesting that he relied a lot on shock for his effects. Or so it seemed to me.) But eventually he seemed to have become established as a contender for "Best Contemporary British Writer". He's been nominated four times for the Booker (or Man Booker) Prize, and he won once for a very short novel, Amsterdam (possibly the slightest of his short listed novels). Atonement was short listed for the 2001 prize, but it lost to Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang.

Atonement is an outstanding novel. (Much better than Amsterdam, which is fine but as I said slight.) It is the story of one day in the life of 13 year old Briony Tallis, and the terrible crime she commits, and her eventual attempt at "atonement". Briony is an aspiring writer (and, we are aware from the start, she will eventually be a very highly regarded novelist), and she is planning to present a play for her beloved older brother Leon, visiting from London, on this day in 1935. The first half of the book presents the events of that day through the intertwined perceptions of several people: Briony; her older sister Cecilia, who has just finished at Cambridge; their charlady's son, Robbie, who has also finished at Cambridge and will be trying for medical school (sponsored by Mr. Tallis); and Briony's mother Emily Tallis, an invalid whose husband stays away and is clearly cheating on her. The other key characters are the Quinceys: 15 year old Lola and 9 year old twin boys Jackson and Pierrot, who have come to stay with the Tallises while their parents (Emily's sister and her husband) go through a divorce.

Briony recruits her cousins to act in her play but they seem ready to ruin it. Robbie and Cecilia, long friends from having grown up together, begin to discover a deeper attraction. The amiable Leon shows up with his crude and rich friend Paul Marshall. Dinner ends suddenly with the young boys running away, and a terrible event while searching for them is compounded by Briony's "crime", which I won't reveal but is truly wrenching, truly a "crime", but in a way understandable.

The novel then jumps forward 5 years to the beginning of the War, specifically the retreat from Dunkirk, and the effects of Briony's crime are revealed. Briony herself begins to try to atone ... Finally, in 1999 the aging Briony, a lionized novelist, reflects on her secrets, and on her final attempt at atonement.

It's really excellent stuff -- terribly wrenching, also sweetly moving, quite exciting. The view of the events at Dunkirk is a very effective. Briony, Robbie, and Cecilia are captured with exactness and honesty. The prose is very fine, very balanced and elegant. The real thing.

It has since, of course, been made into a very well-received movie, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. I did like the film. I will note that a film based on his short novel On Chesil Beach (which I thought pretty good) is due this year.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ace Double Reviews, 5: Alpha Centauri - Or Die!, by Leigh Brackett/Legend of Lost Earth, by G. McDonald Wallis

Ace Double Reviews, 5: Alpha Centauri - Or Die!, by Leigh Brackett/Legend of Lost Earth, by G. McDonald Wallis (#F-187, 1963, $0.40)

Geraldine McDonald Wallis was born June 17, 1925. As far as I can determine, she is still alive (though that's hardly a definitive statement). She would be 93. In honor of her birthday, I'm reposting a review of one of her two Ace Doubles. I hated the other one (The Light of Lilith), but this one is a bit better.

Often in researching the history of these stories I find unexpected stuff. The surprise this time was when I looked up Wallis. G. McDonald Wallis's full name was Geraldine June McDonald Wallis (b. 1925). She published one other Ace Double, The Light of Lilith (1961), backed with Damon Knight's The Sun Saboteurs, (aka "The Earth Quarter", and one of Knight's greatest novellas). As far as the ISFDB knows, that's all she published. Not much of interest there, but the Locus Index revealed an interesting addition to her bibliography. As Hope Campbell, she published a Young Adult ghost story/detective story called Looking for Hamlet in 1987. Hope Campbell, it turns out, has quite an extensive career as a Young Adult author. Other titles include Liza (1965), Home to Hawaii (1967), Why Not Join the Giraffes? (1969), Meanwhile, Back at the Castle (1970), and several more. Her publisher even reprinted Legend of Lost Earth under the Hope Campbell name in 1977. (A Hope Campbell also had a story in Dime Detective Magazine in 1948, and several other stories earlier in the '40s in the romance pulps, but I don't know if that would be the same person. Maybe, but maybe not, as the first of those romance stories would have appeared when she was about 17.) Many of her books would presumably have been available to me when I was a young adult myself, but I admit I never heard of her. (According to her bio in front of this book, she was raised in "Hawaii and the Orient", and was an actress in radio, TV, and summer stock.)

(Covers by Richard Powers and Jack Gaughan)
Anyway, to the book at hand. Leigh Brackett is by far the more famous author, in SF circles at least. Alpha Centauri - Or Die! is a fixup of two novellas from Planet Stories, "The Ark of Mars" (September 1953) and "Teleportress of Alpha C" (Winter 1955 -- the ante-penultimate issue of that great pulp). Comparing my copies of "The Ark of Mars" and "Teleportress of Alpha C" with the  Alpha Centauri - Or Die! suggests that the novel version is slightly expanded. It totals about 40,000 words. Lost Legend of Earth is about 45,000 words long.

Alpha Centauri - Or Die! is not one of Brackett's best novels. One problem is that it is fairly straightforward science fiction, without the frisson of Dunsany-esque fantastical imagery that so drives her best work. (Though there is a High Martian woman on hand. Also, one should note that Brackett did some fine work in the pure SF idiom, such as The Big Jump and The Long Tomorrow.)
(Cover by Kelly Freas)
(Cover by Kelly Freas)

This novel opens on Mars, in a future dominated by Williamsonian robots. These robots have taken over dangerous jobs such as space travel, for reasons of safety and to prevent war. Apparently humans are restricted in other ways as well. A band of humans, led by former pilot Kirby and his Martian wife Shari, refurbish an old ship, the Lucy B. Davenport, and plan an escape to Alpha Centauri. They get away, but soon they have to fight off a robot ship that chases them down. Years later, they reach Alpha Centauri, and they find an inhabitable planet. But the planet is occupied by creatures with teleporting powers. Can they make accommodation with these creatures? And can they fend off the Robot ship that has followed?

Mediocre stuff, really, though Brackett is never unreadable, and I did enjoy the book.

Legend of Lost Earth is actually a rather interesting book, though it takes an anti-technological view that I found annoying. Giles Cuchlainn is a young man on the planet Niflhel. This is a harsh planet, with little water, no plant life to speak of, industrial mills spewing soot into the air, a red sun invisible behind the soot and clouds. Doctrine holds that there are no other planets, and that men originated on Niflhel. Giles holds to this doctrine, but one night he attends a meeting of Earth Worshippers, who believe in a lovely green planet called Earth, the true home of men. There he meets an intriguing young woman, testing his loyalty to his longtime lover.

Soon he is recruited to spy on the Earth Worshippers, but his loyalty is thing. He attends another meeting and learns the story of how humans fled a destroyed Earth, ending up at Niflhel. He decides to save the Earth Worshippers from persecution, and then mysteriously finds himself on Earth. The ending is curious and rather mystical. To some extent the final surprise is predictable, but Wallis makes some unusual use of her revelations. She also incorporates some Celtic mythology It's not a great book, but it is interesting and somewhat original.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ace Double Reviews, 67: The Pirates of Zan, by Murray Leinster/The Mutant Weapon, by Murray Leinster

Ace Double Reviews, 67: The Pirates of Zan, by Murray Leinster/The Mutant Weapon, by Murray Leinster (#D-403, 1959, $0.35, reissued as #66525, 1971, $0.95)

William F. Jenkins (better known in the SF field as Murray Leinster) was born on June 16, 1896, and died in 1975, just short of his 79th birthday. He was an extremely respected SF writer, known as the Dean of Science Fiction, and a Hugo winner. He wrote successfully in many other fields, and was also the inventor of the front projection process used in creating special effects. In honor of his birthday, I am reposting this review of one of his best known novels, backed with a less well known novel.

The longer and better known of these novels, The Pirates of Zan, was first published in Astounding, February through April, 1959, under the title "The Pirates of Ersatz". The cover of the February issue is perhaps one of the more famous Astounding covers. It's by Kelly Freas and shows a space pirate with a slide rule instead of a dagger in his teeth.

(Cover by Kelly Freas)
The Emshwiller cover for the 1959 Ace edition is not bad. The 1971 cover (by Dean Ellis, I think) is by comparison a grave disappointment. The serial version and the book version are almost the same -- there are small wording changes throughout, which I assume are due to different editing between John W. Campbell and Donald A. Wollheim. The serial version is a bit better.

(Cover by Dean Ellis?)
The shorter novel is also an Astounding story. It was first published as "Med Service" in the August 1957 issue. It is of course one of Leinster's series of stories often called "Med Service", featuring a galactic medical organization that visits and aids colony planets with medical problems. The idea may owe much to the "René Lafayette" (L. Ron Hubbard) "Ole Doc Methusaleh" stories of a decade or so earlier, but Leinster's treatment is much preferable to Lafayette's: the Ole Doc Methusaleh stories are dreadfully executed as well as offensive.

"Med Service" the novella is about 22,000 words. The novel version (The Mutant Weapon) is quite a bit longer, at 34,000 words. It adds a couple of chapters at the end, going into much more detail about the motivations of the chief villain of the piece. I thought the story better at the shorter length.
(Covers by ? and Ed Emshwiller)

The Pirates of Zan is really fairly minor stuff. It seems intended to be humourous, and it is much of the time, though some is just crank-turning. Our hero is a native of a pirate planet, but he wants to live an ordinary life, so he travels to a rich, settled, planet and sets up as a EE. But when his radical brilliant new power plant design is rejected, and he ends up accused of murder (for weird reasons that never make sense), he finds himself on the run. He ends up on a backward planet, and once again runs afoul of the local customs, after rescuing a beautiful girl from an abduction attempt. Upon escaping, he kidnaps a few of the locals and sets up as a pirate, but a completely non-violent one. He works an unconvincing scheme to use the threat of piracy to manipulate shipping and insurance stocks so that he can make enough money to a) pay off the locals who have become his crew, b) repay the people he pirated, c) set up a defrauded group of colonists on a new planet, and d) get rich enough himself to marry his girl back on the first planet he went to. Of course, he succeeds wildly, except for coming to realize that his ersatz piracy is vital to civilization, both for economic reasons and for romantic reasons, so he's stuck being a pirate, and also except for realizing (big surprise!) that his first girl is a boring spoiled brat but that he really loves the girl he rescued on his second planet. It's rather rambling, and it really doesn't convince, but it does pass the time pleasantly. It should be noted that it was nominated for the Best Novel Hugo.

The Mutant Weapon is probably intended a bit more seriously. The Med Service man Calhoun, hero of the overall series of Med Service stories, comes to a planet which is about ready for full colonization, intending to give it a basic inspection. It seems that the Med Service is the main organization keeping civilization together -- the Galaxy is too big, travel times too great, for a true interstellar government. When he arrives he is shocked to be attacked (by manipulation of the spaceship landing grid). He manages to escape and land in an isolated area. He and his alien pet/testbed Murgatroyd make their way towards the main city. He discovers a man who seems to have died from starvation, amidst what seems to be plenty of food. He is attacked by a nearly starving young woman, but convinces her he's not from the bad guys who have taken over the planet.

He learns that the original advance colonization team has almost all died from this mysterious plague. It seems that a scheme is afoot to take over this brand new planet by killing off the rightful owners with the plague, while the new colonists will be immunized. Calhoun must first discover the nature of the plague and why it was so difficult to diagnose (the answer seems reasonably clever though I am not a doctor), and then safely dislodge the bad guys from the planet, in such a way as to discourage their soon arriving large group of colonists from trying to finish the job. The novel version adds some extended stuff about the motivation and character of the evil genius who devised the plague.

It's not a great story, but it's OK. As I say above, I think it's better suited to a length of around 20,000 words than to the longer Ace Double length.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Old Bestseller Review: Invitation to Live, by Lloyd C. Douglas

Old Bestseller Review: Invitation to Live, by Lloyd C. Douglas

a review by Rich Horton

Lloyd C. Douglas was indisputably one of the bestselling authors of the 20th Century. His best-known novel, The Robe (1942), was, according to Publishers' Weekly, the bestselling novel of 1943, and also of 1953 (the year in which the film, starring Richard Burton, was released); and it was also the 7th bestselling novel of 1942, and the second bestselling novel of both 1944 and 1945. The Big Fisherman, a loose sequel to The Robe, and Douglas' last novel, was the bestselling novel of 1948, and Green Light was the bestselling novel of 1935. His novels Disputed Passage, White Banners, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, and Magnificent Obsession (his first novel) also appeared on the PW lists of the top ten bestselling novels of the year. (The novel at hand, Invitation to Live, did not!)

Lloyd Cassel Douglas was born in Indiana in 1877 as Doya C. Douglas. (I don't know when or why he changed his name.) His father was a Lutheran Minister, and like many PKs (preacher's kids) he moved around a fair amount as a child. He was himself ordained a Minister in 1903, and served as a Pastor of Lutheran churches and later Congregational churches in a variety of places (including at the University of Illinois, my own alma mater), making his way to Los Angeles and finally to Montreal (which means he qualifies as a Canadian writer! Yay, more Canlit!) In 1927 he retired from the pulpit to write. He died in 1951, having published nine novels, a memoir, and a book derived from a journal mentioned in Magnificent Obsession. Besides The Robe, at least three other novels (White Banners, Magnificent Obsession (twice), and The Big Fisherman) became movies. For all this success, he seems largely forgotten these days, though at least The Robe and Magnificent Obsession (perhaps aided by the films) do seem to have some remaining reputation.

Douglas was a very distinctly Christian writer, didactically so. Invitation to Live is certainly an example. It was published in 1940. My edition is a wartime reprint from Grosset and Dunlap, complete with notice assuring us that while it is published in accordance with regulations to conserve paper it is complete and unabridged.

The novel opens with Barbara Breckenridge, just about to graduate from college, receiving a generous legacy from her grandmother, with one stipulation -- that she attend Trinity Cathedral, in Chicago (she lives in New York), the weekend after her graduation, alone. Barbara, a bit uncertainly, does so, and is particularly impressed with the sermon, given by Dean Harcourt, the wheelchair-bound pastor. She feels compelled to meet with the Dean, and ends up discussing her fears that no one really knows her or likes her -- they are all friendly to her only because of her money. The Dean ends up suggesting that the money is a handicap, and that she head somewhere dressed unmodishly, find work, and see if she can make real friends. And Barbara decides to do so, and ends up at a department store, buying cheap clothes from a brassy young woman. Somehow they click, and when Barbara notes the other woman, Sally's, remarkable ability as a mimic, she suggests that Sally take her place doing summer stock in Provincetown. And indeed, so it goes -- Barbara heads west and ends up on a farm in Nebraska, and Sally goes to Provincetown where she is (rather implausibly) almost immediately discovered by a Hollywood agent and whisked off to make a film.

Suddenly the novel shifts gears, and we meet Lee Richardson, working at his Uncle's bank in Southern California. We gather immediately that he hates banking -- he wants to be an artist -- and he also hates his bossy Aunt's plans for his life, which include taking over the bank, and marrying the suitable yet boring young woman she has chosen for him. He is presented with an unexpected opportunity to escape when a flood washes out the bridge his car is crossing, and he barely survives. Letting his family assume he is dead, he takes another name and ends up in Chicago, learning to be an artist. But, somewhat discontented, he too ends up at Dean Harcourt's church -- and the Dean sends him to Barbara's farm in Nebraska, telling him to paint pictures of farm life. When he meets Barbara, we aren't surprised that sparks fly ...

And the novel moves on to Sally, in Hollywood, as she makes a successful film -- and also makes enemies with her selfish and spendthrift behavior. Sally too, it is clear, needs the Dean's help to set her moral life on a better path. But the Dean thinks Sally is Barbara's responsibility ... and this all ends up enmeshing Lee (now called Larry) in the whole thing. And the next chapter introduces yet another character -- Katherine, a regular attendee of the Dean's church, who is wasting her life by letting her family oppress her. In particular, when she meets a promising young man, her lazy but pretty sister immediately jumps in ... So the Dean involves her as well in the lives of Barbara and Lee/Larry and Sally ...

Well, the overall arc is fairly clear -- the Dean's ways will eventually set everyone's lives on better, Christian, paths. (His Christianity, I should note, is a very mainline Protestant, works-based, theologically thin, sort.) The Dean has assembled quite a stable of acolytes, people he has helped over the years, and Barbara, Lee, Sally, and Katherine are primed to join this stable.

It's all fairly obviously didactic and a bit moralistic; and fairly implausible in its working out. Even so, I enjoyed long stretches of it. The characters are certainly no more than two-dimensional, but their struggles do engage the readers' interest. The plot twists and turns may be sort of obvious, but they are still intriguing. The romance of Barbara and Lee/Larry is worth rooting for. Unfortunately, Douglas seemed to lose interest once he had the ending all arranged, and the book just kind of peters out in the last chapter. Certainly this is far from a great book -- and indeed it's easy to see why this was one of the few Douglas books not to become a major bestseller -- but it's tolerably entertaining for its relatively short length.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

An Early Anderson/Bulmer Ace Double: Star Ways by Poul Anderson/City Under the Sea, by Kenneth Bulmer

Ace Double Reviews, 72: Star Ways, by Poul Anderson/City Under the Sea, by Kenneth Bulmer (#D-255, 1957, $0.35)

(Cover by Ed Emshwiller)
Here a pairing of two of the most prolific Ace Double writers. Star Ways was Anderson's third novel to be written but only about the sixth to get into print. It's about 50,000 words long. City Under the Sea is probably one of Bulmer's best SF novels. Though Bulmer and Anderson began publishing novels at about the same time (1952), and though Anderson is certainly regarded as prolific, Bulmer was far more prolific, and by the ISFDB's count (probably not quite complete) this was his 16th SF novel. Both writers are now dead (Anderson's dates are 1926-2002, Bulmer's 1921-2005).

Star Ways was first published in 1956 by Avalon Books in hardcover. According to Anderson, his first prospective publisher sat on it for a while, until his agent took it back and placed it with Avalon. The Avalon edition, perhaps for the YA market, trimmed some very tame sex and cut the manuscript to fit a strict word count (50,000 words). Unfortunately Anderson lost his original manuscript so the corrupt text is all we have. It's fairly clear on reading the book that cuts have been made in a couple of places. (Anderson's comments were in a brief forward to the 1978 Ace paperback reprint, where it was retitled The Peregrine. This was done so as to avoid confusion with the just released movie Star Wars, but I agree with Anderson that the new title is really somewhat better.)

(Cover by Ed Emshwiller)
It is one of his Psychotechnic League stories, though it is one of those set far in the future when humans have established a Stellar Union, in which an organization called the Coordination Service, or "Cordys", maintains the law as well as it can. James Nicoll has proposed that the Coordination Service stories are not strictly enough linked to the Psychotechnic League stories to necessarily be in the same series, and also he suggests that the FTL drives used in some clear Psychotechnic League stories are inconsistent with those used in the Cordy stories. That may be so (I can't recall enough details of the FTL drive in Psy League stories to say -- which stories might those be?), but it's pretty clear that Anderson regarded them as part of the same future. He published a chart in the Winter 1955 issue of Startling Stories (which featured "The Snows of Ganymede", one of the more obscure Psychotechnic League stories) that included "Star Ways" as an unpublished story set far in the League's future. Moreover, late stories like "Star Ways" and "The Chapter Ends" make clear references to psychologically based means of ordering society that are thematically consistent with even the earliest-set League stories.

Sandra Miesel prepared a revised version of Anderson's chart for publication in the Tor paperback collection Starship (1982), the third and oddly last in a series of books collecting the Psychotechnic League stories. (I say "oddly" last because there were enough stories to fill another book left unreprinted: "The Snows of Ganymede", "The Acolytes", "The Green Thumb", and The Peregrine. (Not to mention "Entity", an early collaboration with John Gergen which seems potentially linked to the series.) Anderson mostly abandoned this future history after 1957, which saw publication of the novella version of "Virgin Planet" as well "Marius", "Cold Victory", and "Brake". He returned for one more story in 1968, "The Pirate", which is set a few years prior to Star Ways/The Peregrine and features a major character in common.

Actually, I wrote the following on rec.arts.sf.written back in the halcyon days of Usenet, about the Psychotechnic League stories and the potentially related pieces:

We discussed this before, in 2003. It appears that at some time or other Anderson DID intend the Psychotechnic League and Coordination Service stories to be linked. But he may have fiddled with details like the FTL drive before actually publishing Star Ways and Virgin Planet, or he may not have thought through such details (though that would be unlike Anderson).

Question and Answer, one might note, was written for a Twayne Triplet (it would have been included with Isaac Asimov's "Sucker Bait"). Perhaps the constraint of writing a story based on a another man's idea caused Anderson to alter future history details. (It was also published under the title Planet of No Return.)

Here's what I wrote in 2003 (slightly updated):

I've taken a closer look, and it appears that Anderson did intend all these stories to be linked to the Psychotechnic League. There's a timeline in the back of the 1982 Tor collection Starship, written by Sandra Miesel. Which I admit I wouldn't find definitive -- perhaps unfairly, I regard Miesel's work with suspicion. Though of course Anderson would presumably have approved it. More to the point, that timeline refers to an earlier chart published in Startling StoriesWinter 1955 (which came out in late 1954). Miesel's chart includes two linked, uncollected stories: "The Green Thumb", from Science Fiction Quarterly, February 1953; and "The Acolytes" aka "The Tinkler" (Worlds Beyond, February 1951) (each reprinted once in an anthology). These are set on Nerthus, a planet mentioned in Virgin Planet. Anderson's chart, from the Winter 1955 Startling Storieswhich I have, is included with "The Snows of Ganymede". It lists the chronology of the Psychotechnic League up to the time of that story. (In that chart, that date is given as 2190, but Miesel has it as 2220, and Anderson cautions that he won't be bound by any of the dates.)

More interestingly, though, the gloss to the Startling chart lists other stories set later in the series, "already written" but not included presumably because of space and because they come after "Snows". These stories are, to quote: "The Troublemakers" (2205), "Gypsy" (2815), "Star Ship" (2875), "The Star Ways" (3120), "Entity" (3150), and "Symmetry" (3175). Thus, Star Ways is part of the series, which I would think brings in Virgin Planet and "The Pirate". (And once you have Virgin Planet, presumably you get "The Green Thumb" and "The Acolytes", though it's not clear to me having read those stories that their Nerthus must be the same as the Nerthus mentioned in Virgin Planet.)

Of the other stories mentioned, "Star Ship" (Planet Stories, Fall 1950), "The Troublemakers" (Cosmos, September 1953), and "Gypsy" (Astounding, January 1950), were all collected in the Tor series of Psychotechnic League books. Star Ways was of course published by Ace, and reissued in 1978 as The Peregrine. (Anderson's intro to the latter says the title change was in order to avoid seeming to capitalize on Star Wars, and that the book was severely cut for its first Ace Double appearance, but couldn't be restored, and that "is part of a "future history" which I subsequently abandoned".)

Also interesting, then, is "Entity", which is a collaboration with one John Gergen published in the June 1949 Astounding. This is a story about an exploring ship encountering a strange black sphere on another planet. I'm not sure what the connection to the rest of the series is, except for the briefest hint that the ship might be part of the Coordination Service, though that exact phrase is not used.

And, finally, "Symmetry" was actually published more or less simultaneously with "The Snows of Ganymede" in the December 1954 Fantastic Universe as "The Stranger Was Himself". It was collected by Anderson in his 1989 book Space Folk, as "Symmetry". I haven't read it.

(Cover by Michael Whelan)
"Star Ways" is set mostly on a starship, the Peregrine, of the Nomad people, a gypsy-like group that lives just outside the influence of the Stellar Union. There are a couple of dozen Nomad ships, each of which travels from world to world offering goods in trade, occasionally doing extended stints of work. They have a social organization of their own, with rules such as marriages being forbidden between members of the same ship. The Cordys regard them as a nuisance that ought to be stopped but which they haven't yet had time to deal with. As this novel opens, the captain of the Peregrine proposes an expedition into an unexplored area, where several Nomad ships as well as some alien ships have mysteriously disappeared. It is assumed that a powerful and reclusive alien race dwells there.

As the ship begins to travel into the dangerous area, there are two sources of tension. One is the new, alien, wife of a young man of the ship, who has vague near-telepathic powers. The other is Trevelyan Micah, a Coordination Service agent who has arranged to get himself captured by the Peregrine -- it seems that his assignment is to investigate both this mysterious alien race, and the Nomads' interaction with them. And in due course the Peregrine comes -- almost too easily though to be fair there is an explanation -- to a planet occupied by these aliens. (No prizes for guessing that they have already met one such!) They learn that they aliens are mostly benign but completely unwilling to coexist with humanity -- either humanity will change (more or less in the direction of Isaac Asimov's Galaxia (eccch!), or humanity will pen the aliens up and try to leave them alone. Anderson's sympathies lie pretty much with mine, and against Asimov's (at least as indicated by the way the novels in question turn out -- caveating always that authors don't always agree with their characters), so he comes up with an ambiguously positive ending. And a pretty emotionally effective ending to the personal stories at the center of the book. It's really minor stuff, no surprise for a book written so early in his career, but not without interest.

Bulmer's City Under the Sea is set in a near future in which humanity is farming the sea extensively in order to feed the teeming billions of Earth. There is conflict between the Space department, which wants to have more budget to explore the outer planets, and the Undersea department, which feels it's more important to get all of Earth under control first.
(Cover by Ed Valigursky)

A spaceman, Jeremy Dodge, turns out to have inherited an interest in an undersea farming corporation. He comes to Earth to investigate, falls immediately in love with a beautiful administrative assistant at his corporation, and then is suddenly shanghaied into an undersea work gang. The injustice of this is quite incredible, and oddly readily ignored by people who should know better. Indeed, before long Jeremy is kidnapped again, by a rival corporation, and surgically altered so that he can only live underwater, though he can do so without special equipment.

Meanwhile, the Undersea honchos are concerned with another problem. Deep sea exploration vessels are being taken by some inimical force and drawn into the deepest depths and crushed. This promises to be embarrassing at budget time.

The resolution, naturally, involves the convergence of these two threads: Jeremy, having escaped to an independent colony of water-adapted humans, bumps into the representatives of the government, who are planning to nuke whatever beings (intelligent sea creatures? aliens? specially adapted humans?) are living in the deeps and destroying the ships. Fortunately, Jeremy and other sane minds are able to propose negotiation first. The ending comes rather too rapidly and conveniently, but the novel is still full of rather neat ideas, and it reads well and excitingly. Nothing great, but pretty decent stuff.

Here, too, is a link to another early Poul Anderson Ace Double: War of the Wing-Men/The Snows of Ganymede

A Classic Poul Anderson Ace Double: The War of the Wing Men/The Snows of Ganymede

Ace Double Reviews, 11: War of the Wing-Men, by Poul Anderson/The Snows of Ganymede, by Poul Anderson (#D-303, 1958, $0.35)

Here's an interesting pairing of early Poul Anderson novels. One is the very first story, as far as I can tell, about the Polesotechnic League; and also the first Nicholas van Rijn story. The other is an obscure short novel about his OTHER "P" league, the Psychotechnic League. The Polesotechnic League stories are in many ways a celebration of free-market capitalism and at least a quasi-libertarian (small-l) world view. By contrast the Psychotechnic Leagues stories seem to promote a technocracy, with secret masters controlling humankind for our own good, and with psychological knowledge developed to the point that the human race can partly be cured of its maladies such as war. In this context it is interesting the that Psychotechnic League stories almost all predate the Polesotechnic League stories -- the only potential exceptions are the 1968 novelette "The Pirate", which I do not remember, and the 1959 novel Virgin Planet, which the ISFDB lists as a Psychotechnic League novel, but which seems to have at best a tenuous link to that series. (Certainly it does not foreground the technocratic themes of stories like "Un-Man".)
(Covers by Ed Emshwiller and Ed Valigursky)

It should be noted that in both series some ambiguity as to the likely virtues of the political/social systems involved creeps in.

The Polesotechnic League story, of course, is War of the Wing-Men. This is a novel of roughly 50,000 words. It was serialized in early 1958 in Astounding as "The Man Who Counts". It was reprinted as War of the Wing-Men in some later Ace editions, but in 1978 it was republished as The Man Who Counts, both in itself by Ace and as part of the big Berkley collection The Earth Book of Stormgate. So that title, not surprisingly, must have been Anderson's choice. I've done a cursory comparison of the Astounding serialization and the Ace Double printing, and they appear to be essentially identical, save a few words changed presumably by one editor or the other ("tensed" for "tautened" is one example). The Psychotechnic League story is The Snows of Ganymede. This is only some 30,000 words long, and was originally published in the Winter 1955 issue of Startling Stories. Again, I've compared the two texts and they seem to be identical.

War of the Wing-Men is set on Diomedes, a somewhat unusual planet. One of the important features include considerable size (twice the diameter of Earth) but very low density (because there are no heavy metals), leading to a combination of gravity and air pressure that makes flight possible for fairly large animals. Another key feature is an axial tilt of nearly 90 degrees, meaning that for much of the planet the sun never rises in winter and never sets in summer. The upshot is that the intelligent natives are winged, have a technology that must do without metal, and generally need to migrate seasonally.
(Cover by H. R. Van Dongen)

Nicholas van Rijn, a "merchant prince" of the Polesotechnic League, has come to Diomedes to check on his trading post there, which is run by Eric Wace. They are accompanied by Sandra Tamarin, the Crown Princess of the planet Hermes. (Need I mention that she is a tall, busty, face too strong to be beautiful, r/e/d/h/e/a/d/ er - blonde?) As the action opens the three of them are marooned on the seas of Diomedes after the sabotage of their airship, with only a few months food at most. (The proteins of Diomedan life are poisonous to humans, and vice-versa.) They have landed near a Diomedan race that lives on ships, and calls themselves the Drak-ho (sometimes, shades of Stirling, the Draka), or Fleet. The Fleet is engaged in a war with a land-based race called the Lannachska, or the Flock. Representatives of the Fleet pick up the three humans, but it soon becomes clear that they have little interest, and perhaps not the ability, to contact the human trading post to arrange for rescue. Van Rijn sizes up the situation quickly, as well as the political strife among the Drak-ho, involving an aging and respected Admiral, his foolish violent son, and his capable but lower-born Captain. Van Rijn tricks the Drak-ho into a situation which causes the humans to be kidnapped by the Lannachska.

Once among the Flock, Van Rijn begins to assist them in their to this point desperate and losing war against the Fleet, in exchange, he hopes, for help in contacting the traders' post. In so doing he demands heroic efforts from Wace, Sandra, and the Flock, and he rubs a lot of fur the wrong way among the Flock, who are unready to adjust their habits in the ways necessary to give them a chance to defeat the Fleet. He also enrages Wace, who perceives Van Rijn as a lazy glutton who does nothing but eat and boss people around. There is also a mystery to be solved concerning the key social difference between the Flock and the Fleet. The former, like humans, are always sexually ready, and form marriages and have babies all year round. The latter, like most Diomedans, only go into heat once a year, after their migration to warmer lands in winter, and all babies are born at the same time have been conceived in orgy-like situations during the winter celebration. Mothers rarely know who the fathers of their babies are, and the social structure is basically a clan, with the children raised communally. Both groups consider the other's habits truly disgusting -- one reason they are at war.

The resolution is pretty nice, involving brilliant tactics by Van Rijn, heroics by many including the "good" Captain of the Fleet, and the solution to the sexual mystery. (Other aspects of the world-building come into play nicely as well.) I wasn't wholly convinced. Van Rijn's uses of Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech to rally the Flock to action seemed implausible in its effect. (I kept thinking of William Sanders's "The Undiscovered", where William Shakespeare writes Hamlet while marooned among American Indians, and they just don't get what he's trying to do. If other humans won't "get" Shakespeare, why would these aliens?) In general the success of Van Rijn's schemes seemed to be a result of quite remarkable luck half the time -- but that's par for the course in many an adventure novel. And the lecture at the end of the novel, about who the man is who really "counts": the engineer/hard worker like Wace or the leader/schemer like Van Rijn, seemed to ram home a point already well enough made. But overall this is a good solid novel, a fun read with some clever SFnal worldbuilding well integrated with the plot.

(Cover by Ed Valigursky)
The Snows of Ganymede is a quite obscure Anderson "novel". As far as I know its only two appearances are in this Ace Double and in the Startling Stories issue where it first appeared. [This was true when I first wrote this review -- since then it has been reprinted in ebook form by Gateway/Orion, and in the NESFA collection A Bicycle Built For Brew, and just now in the Baen collection The Complete Psychotechnic League Volume 2.) One might suppose that Anderson repudiated some of the politics behind the Psychotechnic League stories, but the rest of them were reprinted in the rush of late 70s and early 80s Anderson reissues, for Ace and Tor. These include the novels The Peregrine (aka Star Ways) and Virgin Planet, and the stories in the collections Cold Victory, Starship, and The Psychotechnic League. Perhaps Anderson was simply not very pleased with the quality of the story, though I must say I found it adequate, if hardly very good.

The story opens with three men, including Hall Davenant, trudging across the surface of Ganymede, trying to find refuge before their oxygen runs out. We then flash back to the beginning of their project -- Hall Davenant is an Engineer of the Order of Planetary Engineers, engaged in a project to terraform Ganymede. The Order is an apolitical organization, hiring its services to whatever entity will pay them. It is also oddly monkish in its setup -- people are chosen as members young, and seem wholly educated and housed within the Order until several years into their career. The terraforming project is controversial, because Ganymede is independent of the inner Solar System, and it is controlled by a renegade group of racists from the former White American Party. Ganymedan society is stratified along quasi-genetic lines. But Hall and his fellows are informed that the Order must take this job, partly for the needed experience, and partly to demonstrate that they are above politics.

Once on Ganymede, the Engineer team soon learns that strange things are going on. Their rooms are bugged, the thuggish rulers seem uncertain that they want to allow the project to continue, and then there is the spooky religious service that Hall witnesses, culminating in the assassination of one leader. Furthermore, there is something strange about the Angels, priests who share power with the rulers (called "Cincs"). Before long the Engineers are arrested on trumped up charges, leading to a desperate escape and the three men walking across Ganymede's snows.

The ending involves discovering a renegade group on the Jovian moon, and a jury-rigged spaceship taking over mysterious abandoned orbiting ship. And Hall must decide whether he can truly remain above politics. Naturally, there is a final revelation about the true purpose of the Order of Planetary Engineers.

It's not a bad story qua story, though it's not particularly great either. The science seems a bit shaky in spots, but not bad for the 50s. Certainly there is some silliness to the political setup, but nothing unusual for SF of any era, really. A minor book, but one that I think Anderson completists, at least, would want to read.

I also just posted a review of another early Anderson Ace Double, including another Psychotechnic League novel, and some discussion of the whole Pychotechnic League series: Star Ways/City Under the Sea