When the People FellCordwainer Smith
science fiction, short stories
Introduction by Frederik Pohl. Compiled by Hank Davis.
A sweeping saga of the centuries to come, from the new dark age that followed a global war, to the new civilization that arose from the ashes to colonize the stars. At first, the colonists use ships with gigantic sails, cruising on the waves of starlight, their captains having to become something part human and part machine; then later moving by planoforming ships which travel faster than light, but must defend themselves against the malevolent, mind-devouring creatures lurking in the dark between the stars. Then came the reign of the all-powerful Lords of the Instrumentality, who ruled Earth and its colony worlds with ruthless benevolence, suffocating the human spirit for millennia – until the time of the Rediscovery of Man, when the strange, lost concept of freedom was reborn... An extraordinary vision of a future unique in science fiction, praised by readers, critics, and major writers in the field.
"Read this. Cordwainer Smith is timeless." – Terry Pratchett
"...a truly unforgettable writer..." – David Brin
"...a sophisticated, often poetic writer... these stories rank among the finest of all time..." – Publishers Weekly
The NESFA Press volume The Rediscovery of Man reprints all 30-odd of Smith's science fiction stories, including the Casher O'Neill ones later fixed up as Quest of the Three Worlds (1966). The identically titled Gollancz volume is a reprint of the 1975 Del Rey volume The Best of Cordwainer Smith, which comprises about half of the complete short fiction. NESFA has also done an edition of Smith's only SF novel, Norstrilia, originally published in two halves as The Planet Buyer (1964) and The Underpeople (1968) and only published in one volume in 1975. And the Baen volume We the Underpeople contains five long stories plus Norstrilia. The NESFA Rediscovery of Man is suited best for Smith's fan as a proofread hardback, and annotated with helpful background information.