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Anderson, Poul
book-date: 1961
cvr art:
cvr price:
Jack Gaughan

Book= Fine
Dustjacket= VG+ to near-Fine

Gregg Press: "First Printing" April 1978 hardcover (the paperback was in 1961.) Cover by Jack Gaughan (same cover-art used for all 7 volumes of this set.) Condition is Fine in a VG+ to near-Fine dustjacket: the book is tight and square, with very mild or negligible age-tanning. No stamps, marks or writing - a very clean copy that looks unread. The DJ is in nice shape with a little rubbing wear down middle of spine, 1" tear at top left near spine was neatly repaired with tape on the back before the cover was put in its protector. Underneath the DJ protector, the covers front and back have developed a slight waviness over time (see scan #2.) My guess is that in 2 decades normal variance in humidity caused the dustjacket to expand in Summers, but the DJ-protector limited that expansion and so the gentle waviness resulted. Since the Demco DJ protector is flat with little wear, it tends to mask this effect - I would leave it on.

I'm selling this for a friend who bought his copy at the same time I did: when Gregg Press was selling the last of their stock for half price (possibly part of the same batch.) I didn't put DJ protectors on mine so the covers are flat (and spines sun-faded), and his copies have uniform color and the subtle waviness described above.

A note about the Gregg Press hardcover editions. Their print runs were low (typically 500 to 700?) and their quality is high: acid free paper, so age-tanning is negligible; the binding is sewn, and the boards are heavier than most. They will last much longer than the original, if there was one. Another seller dropped me a note to clarify something I thought was just an inconsistency: sometimes the credits page will state "First Printing" followed by a month and year (see scan #4) - and sometimes not. Apparently they occasionally did another print run, and dropped the "First Printing" line on those. I don't think the total print runs for any of their books exceeded my own cutoff point for defining small press editions, which is 3,000 copies (the typical print run of a non-reprinted Arkham House book.) Most of the books they chose to reprint in hardcover were chosen for quality and popularity of the author - even when an earlier hardcover exists, the Gregg edition tends to be the preferred one.

Orbit Unlimited - an episodic novel or linked collection. A small group headed by a spaceman siezes one last chance to escape an Earth government growing more and more oppresive, and settle on the plateau High America on the planet Rustum. I rather liked this set, and also the further stories (sequels) - collected in New America.

Robin Hood's Barn
The Burning Bridge
Condemned to Death
The Mills of the Gods

The first 3 parts appeared in Astounding and Fantastic Universe in 1959; the final entry is original to the 1961 paperback.

For a reasonable plot summation I again rely on excerpts from a review by my favorite reviewer - from Analog October 1961:
"We are shown a future Earth, regimented and comfortable, whose benign dictator forces the rebellious elements who still carry some promising genes into taking that nucleus of hope away from Earth to a distant, not too hospitable planet. The second episode begins to draw character: the starship captain whos has to decide whether to continue or turn back, when a fragmentary message seems to give them that option. In a third episode - a neat little problem story with value-choices thrown in - the colonists land, and we sense the rifts forming among them.

The last third of the book is really a story in itself, and by far the best. Here are the colonists, established with difficulty on a high plateau above the clouds of Rustum, a world too large, with too dense an atmosphere, for ordinary human beings to live at sea level. Stresses on their society are producing strains - test-tube children, for example, who know they're not wanted; dogged religious isolationism on the part of the former space captain. Then an ectogenetic child runs away, and most of the community are too busy - actually, and in rationalization - to help look for one of "them." Finally two men, representing totally different social values, do start to look for him and come up against the grim hostility of an undefeated world.

Once upon a time, this kind of story would only have been about the struggle with Rustum. There would have been more monsters, more action, more peril, more "big scenes" of violent action. It is a measure of Poul Anderson's stature as a writer of tales of wonder that in this story the human conflicts are what matter, stressed and triggered by the grim nature of the strange world where they are trying to live." [P. Schuyler Miller]

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