Friday, May 12, 2006

Angry Customers

I just opened a package that contained a typewritten note and a half-burned book.

The letter reads:

I am returning a book which I purchased from you about 20 or 25 years ago. I am now returning it. I don't expect a refund for it after all this time. I'm only returning to let you know that I hate the book. a disgrace to science fiction. Most of the people in the book are the exact opposite of people in most science fiction stories. It shouldn't be classified as science fiction. It should be classified as fantasy or adventure instead. Maybe it should be classified as childrens literature. If it's still included in the Book Club selections, I suggest that you remove it.

You probably notice that the book is in a damaged and charred condition. That's because I tried to burn it before mailing to you. It might be a good idea for most science fictions who have the book to do the same, assuming that they feel the same way I do about it.

OK, it's time for the very first Antick Musings Contest! Guess which book got this person so incensed, and win something cool. (I'm still figuring out what, exactly, the prize will be, but I can include a selection of SFBC original anthologies, like Between Worlds and The Fair Folk; books I edited like Off the Main Sequence by Heinlein and Black Seas of Infinity by Lovecraft; and whatever I have on my random stack of discarded galleys and whatnot at home. I think I have a numbered bound galley of Knife of Dreams, if anyone wants that.)

Your clues:
  • The book in question was sold by the SFBC.
  • The book is at least 20 years old.
  • I believe that most SF readers would not agree with this person's assessment of this book.
The prize: at least a couple of books, and I'll probably let the lucky winner choose the specifics.

The deadline is five o'clock (Eastern Daylight Time) Monday. I may post more clues if no one is close. C'mon, folks, I want to give stuff away, so start guessing!

79 comments:

Steve Thorn said...

I'd have to guess Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

The Editor said...

I'll guess NEUROMANCER by William Gibson.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Nope and nope, though decent guesses.

Maybe I should add that, while this person bought the book in question 20-25 years ago, it wasn't new then.

Anonymous said...

Starship Troopers.

-- johan.lars@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Starship Troopers

-- johan.larson@comcast.net

Cheryl said...

Dune?

Molly Moloney said...

Stranger in a Strange Land?

Anonymous said...

Dragons of Pern?

Jeff Ford

Anonymous said...

Ooops! I want to retract my last guess and say Farenheit 451 by Bradbury.

Kendall said...

One of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books. Maybe the two-in-one SFBC Children of Hastur (combining The Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile)? Awesome pair, BTW.

(But I'm guessing Cheryl or Jeff got the right answer...I was thinking Jeff's answer originally, but I bet Cheryl's right.)

Andrew Wheeler said...

More great guesses, but still not the right answer.

The book in question isn't quite as massively world-famous as Dune, but it is well-known, and I expect anyone reading this blog would instantly recognize it.

Jose said...

I'll geuss Infinity Link by J Carver. Only because that's the only book I can remember that the club was selling 20-25 years ago.

AndyHat said...

Perhaps the Earthsea trilogy?

Docker said...

The Left Hand of Darkness?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Still no. Again, the book in question is substantially older than 20 years.

John said...

The Mote in God's Eye

Kendall said...

If we may guess again, then (taking into account that it sounds older than I originally thought), I'll guess Heinlein's The Puppet Masters.

(I have another guess, but I'll stop at two guesses until/unless you say we may keep guessing until someone gets it right.)

Anonymous said...

Little Fuzzy?

-d. bilek

Øystein said...

I was going to say HHG2TG, but your comment about it not being as famous as Dune kills that idea.

Oh well, after ever so careful deliberation and hours in front of the abacus, I'm going for Ringworld.

jukkahoo said...

Dhalgren by Delany.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Let's say that any person can make as many guesses as he/she wants, but only one guess at a time.

And the real title has still not been guessed.

The Editor said...

Hmmm, bought 20 years ago, but not new then. Not as well-known as DUNE, but recognizeable to those of us who partake of the knowledge of Wheeler....

FOUNDATION?

John Klima

The Editor said...

OH! I was going to guess THE MOON IS HARSH MISTRESS the first time through this entry, but then went another direction altogether. So I'm also guessing THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS!

John Klima

AndyHat said...

OK, how about Nine Princes in Amber (which I suppose would have to be entire first Amber omnibus, if it's from SFBC).

Anonymous said...

1984

-- johan.larson@comcast.net

Cheryl said...

Zelanzy's a good bet given the nature of the complaint, and I'd considered the Amber books before. I'll try Lord of Light.

jukkahoo said...

Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.

Øystein said...

Adventure, fantastical, strange characters, old, makes people want to burn it...
'Tis Slan!

Anonymous said...

All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman for no other reason than I remember buying it from the SFBC in the late 70's

--Mark Hertel

Deb said...

How about A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.?

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Wheeler said...

Lots of good guesses, but the burned book still hasn't been identified.

OK, I'll bring out the new clue: the book in question is on a major (published) list of 100 best SF novels. (And now many of the other books on that list have been already guessed.)

niall said...

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury?

shsilver said...

Day of the Triffids by Wyndham?

jukkahoo said...

More than Human by Sturgeon?

Steve Thorn said...

Childhood's End

Kendall said...

The Time Machine? I was an SFBC member 20-25 years ago (hmm, well, 20 years ago; 25 might be pushing it), but I didn't keep all my Things To Comes.... ;-)

MLR said...

The Inheritors by William Golding.

Anonymous said...

The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers.

Mervius

MLR said...

So many possibilities...

The Female Man by Joanna Russ

FeiSen

Andrew Wheeler said...

Still not the right answer, though everything guessed has been reasonable.

To clarify my last comment, the book in question is listed in David Pringle's Science Fiction: 100 Best Novels.

Steve Thorn said...

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Editor said...

FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON?

John Klima

AndyHat said...

OK, how about Blish's A Case of Conscience?

niall said...

OK, so last time I picked something from that list that seemed to fit most of the complainant's objections (fantasy/adventure, could be children's literature), giving them the benefit of the doubt.

This time I'm guessing Mission of Gravity. I mean, the people in the book are unlike the people in most sf stories ...

(I will be disappointed if it turns out to be A Clockwork Orange--so cliche!)

Jesper Svedberg said...

The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe.

Ran said...

Zelazny's Jack of Shadows?

Anonymous said...

Cordwainer Smith's Norstrilia, maybe?

S Loyal said...

Cordwainer Smith's Norstrilia, maybe?

Andrew Wheeler said...

No and no -- still no one has guessed it.

S Loyal said...

This is maddening. John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos?

Ran said...

How about The Dispossessed?

Steve Thorn said...

I'll be disappointed if it's Sirens of Titans, since I've been a huge fan of Vonnegut for years.

Docker said...

The Space Merchants?

MLR said...

The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard

FeiSen

Andrew Wheeler said...

Still not it, I'm sad to say.

niall said...

There isn't much left, surely?

The End of Eternity.

Andrew J said...

John Calvin Batchelor's "The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica"?

Steve Thorn said...

Oath of Fealty? Nivens and Pournelle..

MLR said...

Pavane by Keith Roberts

FeiSen

Andrew Wheeler said...

Still not the right answer. I think I'll need to throw out some more clues.

This is pretty close to being a single-book author; he wrote other things (some of them of interest to SF readers), but this is his one famous book in our area.

Does that help?

MLR said...

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

(Enjoying this, prize or no prize.)

FeiSen

The Editor said...

Gee, is it CLOCKWORK ORANGE? (I know someone else mentioned it in their comment, but was it an actual guess from them?)

John Klima

The Editor said...

Ah crap, it's CAT'S CRADLE, isn't it?

John Klima

Steve Thorn said...

My last guess.

Algis Budrys, Rogue Moon

RobB said...

"The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything," by John D. MacDonald.

Dave said...

John Sladek's The Roderick Books?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Still not right, thought the Pat Frank and John D. MacDonald guesses are the closest yet.

Dave said...

Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker?

RobB said...

"Rosemary's Baby" by Ira Levin?

RobB said...

John Gardner's "Grendel"

Ran said...

Earth Abides?

MLR said...

The Alteration by Kingsley Amis

FeiSen

Andrew J said...

Alferd Bester's "The Demolished Man"?

S Loyal said...

Oh, no! Is it George Orwell's 1984?

S Loyal said...

Never mind, never mind. I see now that someone guessed 1984 two days ago!

AndyHat said...

Bernard Wolfe's "Limbo"?

Alexx Kay said...

Nova Express, by William Burroughs?

-- Alexx Kay (alexx@panix.com)

Andrew Wheeler said...

We have a winner: it is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

ran, please e-mail me at andrew dot wheeler at doubledayent dot com to claim your fabulous prizes.

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