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Cordwainer Smith

rediscovery of man

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Cordwainer Smith is not as well known as Isaac Asimov or Robert A. Heinlein, and that's a sad thing. Smith had a weird, quirky imagination, and a unique voice. With one exception he wrote only short stories, and the flavor of them is unmistakable. Some are well known, "Scanners Live In Vain" and "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" being the most familiar. Even the titles are unmistakeable: consider "No, No, Not Rogov", "The Dead Lady of Clown Town", "Golden The Ship Was, Oh, Oh, Oh", and "The Crime and Glory of Commander Suzdal".

"Cordwainer Smith" is, of course, a pseudonym; the man was actually named Paul Linebarger, and he was as fascinating as his work. Raised in China (Sun-Yat Sen was his godfather), he became an expert on the country; he also wrote what long was the standard text on psychological warfare. One's reaction on hearing that term today is decidedly negative, but we shouldn't do Smith a disservice. His love for his fellow men shines out in every story he wrote; it's one of the things that makes him memorable.

Smith's daughter, Rosana Hart, has established a web page to her father's memory: http://www.cordwainer-smith.com. You'll find lots of information there about the man and his work; you can also buy his complete works at an attractive price.

Books by Cordwainer Smith

Smith's stories have been published in a variety of editions; the ones to buy are the New England Science Fiction Association's two-volume set:

The Rediscovery of Man, The Complete Short Fiction of Cordwainer Smith
Anthology; all of Smith's short fiction. Not all of it is good--but the good stuff is well worth the trip. Reviews: 1 April 1999
Smith's only novel, and a classic. Reviews: 1 March 1999

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