by E. B. Cole, 1961, Gnome Press 1961 hardcover – science fiction (edited into novel form from short stories)
This novel is another mosaic novel (like Hospital Station and Star Surgeon, the first two Sector General SF novels by James White, reviewed here). This one is comprised of three short stories with added connecting material.
When I came across mention of those stories a few months ago I remembered liking them, so I searched out a copy of this book. No, this isn’t award-winning, earth shaking, jaw-dropping SF. But it is good old fashioned second tier space opera, second tier because of weaknesses in the connecting material and a lack of follow-through with a better wrap-up. The last story ends, and that’s it. I do wish there had been at least one more story in the series (* see note at end), or at least a little more closure, but the idea to combine these into a novel came well after Cole had the stories published. My guess is Gnome press didn’t have much money (it never did) for much additional material.
The stories were originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1951, 1954 and 1955 and that’s where I first read them. Though the first was not a cover story, the second two were (images below).
Speaking of Gnome Press, the company was founded in 1948 by Martin Greenberg (Not the same person as anthologist Martin H. Greenberg) and published until 1962 when it went bankrupt. This is the last book published by the company. From Wikipedia:
“Gnome Press did not have much capital or access to distribution facilities. The company was notorious for not paying their writers royalties due. Asimov claimed he was never paid for the publication of the Foundation books, and called Greenberg “an outright crook”. Asimov and other authors were able eventually to repossess the rights to their publications, and the company failed during 1962.”
The list of books published is impressive.
I enjoyed this one, but there is a caveat: the reader has to be willing to suspend disbelief regarding the philosophy of a right, just, peaceful and fair-to-all-citizens Galactic Civilization, and that teaching and thought manipulation can reform unlike-minded persons to happy contributing useful citizens. You have to be able to think “yeah, yeah, okay, let’s get on with it” and then you can enjoy this slight, light but darned fun book by a relative science fiction unknown.
Jerry House has additional information, it’s in his comment below but I included it here as well. Thanks, Jerry!
There were a total of eight stories in the series:
– Philosophical Corps (Cole’s first sf story)
– These Shall Not Be Lost
– Fighting Philosopher
– The Players
– Final Weapon
The first, fourth and fifth were included in The Philosophical Corps. The fifth, sixth and seventh are available on-line at Manybooks.
Manybooks also offers the short novel The Best Made Plans, which originally appeared as a two-part serial in Astounding, as well as three other other Cole stories: Alarm Clock, Indirection and The Weakling. Other Cole stories may be lurking elsewhere on the web.