12 Worlds of Alan E. Nourse

by Alan E. Norse, (no editor named), stories © 1954-1963, WLC Books, 2010 trade paper, science fiction short story collection

The 47th in my series of forgotten books

This collection of a dozen science fiction short stories came into my hands because I read a review of it on one of the many blogs I visit. The review made it sound interesting, a promising place to try an author I’d not previously sampled.

The collection is correctly labeled science fiction, but a majority of the stories are psychological, sociological, nature-of-mankind fiction that might have fitted as well in Atlantic Monthly as Galaxy. Norse is good at these stories, but has an irritating habit of leaving the endings very much up in the air, obviously intending for the reader to apply a conclusion depending on how they interpret what he has written. Interesting, but these were not the stories I liked best in the book.

Those favorites, “The Coffin Cure”,  “An Ounce of Cure” and “Problem”, while having their sociological elements along with a large dose of human nature plus the future, involve clever solutions to unsuspected problems, while “Native Soil” is one of the few to take place off Earth.

That review I read was right: this is a promising place to sample the work of Alan Nourse, and this affordable, available collection would make a nice addition to any SF reader’s shelves.

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17 Responses to 12 Worlds of Alan E. Nourse

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    Cool, I’ve never read and Alan E. Nourse — I’ve always wanted to read his novel, Star Surgeon…

  2. Richard says:

    James White also wrote a SF novel with that title (my review here).

  3. Joachim Boaz says:

    Yeah, I know — White’s novel is much more famous and spawned an entire famous series (I’ve already read your review a while back).

  4. I have this book and love the cover. I read Alan E. Nourse as a kid, mostly his SF novels publiced by ACE Books. I’m looking forward to reading his short stories.

  5. Carl V. says:

    I always like sampling new authors in the short story format, so as I do my book travels I will keep an eye out for this author. I don’t mind the occasional story that leaves the ending a bit up in the air. If well done, some enigma can be a good thing. But more often than not I find them to either be not particularly well written, or find them at the end of a long book that was great up until the ending where it all unraveled.

  6. Richard says:

    I’m sure you can tell from my review that I’m just better than lukewarm on this set of stories, Carl. They were entertaining, but not great. Worth a try, but don’t expect Clarke or Heinlein.

  7. Sorry you didn’t like this one better. My reaction was a bit different. Different strokes I guess…

  8. Evan Lewis says:

    A cool cover, whatever the contents.

  9. Richard says:

    I’m not saying these are bad stories, but every set of stories is set against the personal tastes of the reader, and these didn’t quite hit the spot for me. I expect others of you to enjoy them, as did Randy.

  10. Jerry House says:

    Unfortunately, Nourse is not well-known today but he was a solid, enetertaining writer in the 50s and 60s. A medical doctor, he hit the nonfiction best-seller charts with Intern as by “Dr. X”. He was the medical editor for Ladies’ Home Journal and wrote a large number of medical and career books for the teenage market. A number of his short stories and the novel Star Surgeon are available fee online.

  11. Jerry House says:

    Free, dammit. Not fee.

  12. Richard says:

    Thanks, Jerry, for that additional background.

  13. Todd Mason says:

    And GALAXY, particularly in the latter ’50s before Gold had his serious accident, was striving for the kind of fiction that could easily also be published in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, or at least in EQUIRE. I have a copy of STAR SURGEON kicking around somewhere…more conveniently, Project Gutenberg has one up here:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18492

  14. Richard says:

    I just have a hard time reading much text on screen. A blog, an article, yes, a short story, maybe, a novel? No.

  15. Joachim Boaz says:

    Richard: I agree — more and more of what I have to read is online and it’s really frustrating….

  16. Richard says:

    I just ordered a couple of things, but you’re right, it will stop before the move, is on the wain now. I have one pre-publication book, due to be published in late November, which will go to the new address, but that’s it. I’ll just drop them in the ol’ basket, and decide later if I want them and if so order them one my address has changed, and I have some book shelves in place, which could be a long time. *** sigh ***

  17. Todd Mason says:

    I should’ve mentioned, you have Nourse’s name wrong in the subject line (I think it was pronounced “Nurse”)….

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