The Nail and the Oracle

by Theodore Sturgeon
Release date: 2007
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, short stories

This book contains ten major stories by the master of science fiction, fantasy, and horror written during the 1960s. The controversial “If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?” shows the author’s technique of “ask the next question” used in a way that shatters social conventions. “When You Care, When You Love” offers a prescient vision of the marriage of deep obsessive love and genetic manipulation, written long before actual cloning techniques existed. “Runesmith” constitutes a rare example of Sturgeon collaborating with a legendary colleague, Harlan Ellison. Included also are two other rarities: two detective stories and a Western that showcase Sturgeon’s knack for characterization and action outside his usual genre. “Take Care of Joey” has been read as an allusion to the complex personal relationship between Sturgeon and Ellison, while “It Was Nothing, Really!” hilariously skewers the mores of the military-industrial complex. As always, these stories demonstrate not only Sturgeon’s brilliant wordplay but also his timeliness, with “Brown-shoes” and “The Nail and the Oracle” standing out as powerful commentaries on the use and abuse of power that might have been written yesterday.


  • Foreword by Harlan Ellison
  • Ride In, Ride Out (with Don Ward)
  • Assault and Little Sister
  • When You Care, When You Love
  • Holdup à la Carte
  • How to Forget Baseball
  • The Nail and the Oracle
  • If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?
  • Runesmith (with Harlan Ellison)
  • Jorry's Gap
  • Brownshoes (aka The Man Who Learned Loving)
  • It Was Nothing — Really!
  • Take Care of Joey
  • Story Notes by Paul Williams
updated 2017-01-21

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