The Instrumentality of MankindCordwainer Smith
science fiction, short stories
Introduction by Frederik Pohl.
The Instrumentality of Mankind completes the publication of the science fiction of Cordwainer Smith by Del Rey Books with fourteen stories set in his star-spanning future universe of scanners, planoforming ships that whisper among the stars, the animal-derived Underpeople... perhaps the most outstanding and haunting feat of creative imagination the field has ever known.
Here is the account of the strange origin of the Vomact family and its role in founding the Instrumentality, of how one man's love broke the secret of Space-Three, of what happens to people too long between the stars – even of a shape-changing Martian with a passion for gadgets – in a collection that presents some of the strongest work of an unforgettable writer.
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.