The Remakable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

What Other Science Fiction Authors Say About Cordwainer Smith

For more on this subject, see this panel discussion about Cordwainer Smith.

Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg at Worldcon, 2001"One essential component of great science fiction is strangeness. The story must take the reader someplace new and show him something he has never seen before...

"Cordwainer Smith's 'Scanners Live in Vain,' one of the classic stories of science fiction, provides that essential degree of strangeness in two ways: by sheer originality of concept, and by a deceptive and eerie simplicity of narrative. It was the first published story of a remarkable man and a remarkable writer, and when it appeared in 1950 - in what was little more than an amateur magazine - it set off reverberations that opened the way for an extraordinary career.

"For me it was a revelation. I read it over and over, astonished by its power. It had for me the fundamental science-fiction quality that I had been searching for ever since I discovered Wells' Time Machine and Lovecraft's Shadow Out of Time, and for which I continue to search to this day, some forty years later: it thrust me into a place that was utterly new to me, and imbued me with a residue of haunting images and impressions and feelings that I knew would never leave me."

(From Science Fiction 101; Robert Silverberg's Worlds of Wonder, edited and with an introduction by Robert Silverberg, ibooks, New York, 2001.)

John Clute

"First, genuflect, genuflect: The Rediscovery of Man collects between one set of covers all the short fictions of the unmatchable, unthinkable Cordwainer Smith. All are magnificently weird, most are plain magnificent, and one or two are the nearest thing to perfection that you or I will ever chance upon in our little lives."

(From Interzone)

Gardner Dozois

"If, when I was a young would-be writer, struggling for a glimpse of the Light from out of the stifling provincial darknessā€¦, some supernatural agency had given me the chance to put on the saffron robe of an acolyte and sit at the feet of the writer of my choice, learning all that I could learn, I would have, without any hesitation, picked Cordwainer Smith as the Master at whose feet I would sit."

(From Modern Classics of Science Fiction, edited by Gardner Dozois, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1991.)

Scott Edelman

"Sifting through tens of thousands of manuscripts in the slush pile over the years for Science Fiction Age, what I always hoped I would find is another Cordwainer Smith. Too many beginning writers are timid, fearful of stepping over the boundary separating the day after tomorrow from the vast, rich, unexplored universe beyond. Better than any writer we've yet seen, Smith represents the sense of awe and wonder that is the heart of science fiction."

Barry Malzberg

"Cordwainer Smith is worth special mention . . . [Paul] Linebarger, a mysterious and complex figure . . . wrote of his mysterious and exotic far future, a network of civilizations through the galaxies administered by the diabolic and barely-glimpsed Instrumentality. Linebarger's style, a declamatory, deliberately overblown mythic narrative, has influenced hundreds of science fiction writers and has been outrightly appropriated by a good number.

"No one, in or out of science fiction, wrote like Linebarger; his work retains its mystery and power decades later, a mystery swathed within the enigma of that style and that never-glimpsed Instrumentality which must be the most barbarous Civil Service ever conceived."

(From SFWA Bulletin, June-July 2001)

James Patrick Kelly

A James Patrick Kelly cover story in Asimov's a few years ago was prefaced by Kelly's comment: "If you like 'Undone,' and I certainly hope that you do, let me commend your attention to the work of two giants on whose shoulders Mada and I stand -- Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester."

Neal Barrett, Jr

I  got this email from science fiction author Neal Barrett, Jr. in 2001: "I was so pleased to discover your web site. I have been a writer since l960, and my work appeared, at least once (likely more than that) in the same issue where your father appeared (Galaxy, June, 1961- -"Mother Hitton's Little Kittons," is the one I recall.)

"Some 50 novels and several hundred stories later (and 41 years) I can honestly say there is no one in the field of science fiction---or out of it, for that matter---that I admire and respect more than Cordwainer Smith. I was in awe of his work then, and still am. He was a man way ahead of his time, and as far as I am concerned, he is still the master."

Howard V. Hendrix

 The June 2002 issue of Asimov's carried a story by Howard V. Hendrix called "Incandescent Bliss."

The title immediately made me wonder what was up, since my father's name in Chinese translates as "Forest of Incandescent Bliss."

As the story opens, we are in a hotel in Hong Kong with Dr. Jaron L. Kwon... Soon it continues with this paragraph, the first of three with an unmistakable subject:

Jaron doesn't care so much any more about whether it was or wasn't a heart attack in 1966 that killed the 'old China hand.' Or why the old hand willed The Documents--a fascinating mix of ciphers and explications in Hebrew, Chinese, Latin, Italian, and English--to CIA. Jaron doesn't care so much anymore that the old hand was a professor of Asiatic studies, first at Duke and then at Johns Hopkins. Or that the cold-war spymaster claimed he never mastered the 'algorithm complex' so key to understanding the documents." [page 69] 


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NEW! His spy thriller  Atomsk, written as Carmichael Smith, is now on the Kindle!
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Atomsk Kindle version

 The Blog
 His Books
 The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith
 Norstrilia, by Cordwainer Smith
 Atomsk, by Carmichael Smith
 Ria, by Felix C. Forrest
 Carola, by Felix C. Forrest
 Psychological Warfare, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul: One Letter
 Books about His Science Fiction
 Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, by Anthony Lewis
 The Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, by Karen Hellekson
 Exploring Cordwainer Smith, Booklet by Andrew Porter
 Where You Can Get Books
 Cordwainer Smith at Amazon
 Cordwainer Smith at Alibris
 Cordwainer Smith at AbeBooks
 Cordwainer Smith on eBay
 Cordwainer Smith, the Author
 A Cordwainer Smith Panel Discussion
 Scholarly Corner, by Alan C. Elms
 What Other Science Fiction Authors Say
 What Readers Say
 Paul M. A. Linebarger, the Man
 Family Photos
 A Daughter's Memories
 Was Paul Linebarger Kirk Allen?
 His Arlington National Cemetery Bio and My Comments
 Rosana's Ramblings
 Rambling 1: Shakespeare Had It Wrong
 Rambling 2: The Return of C'mell, Sort Of
 Art Inspired by Cordwainer Smith
 Virgil Finlay
 Pierre Lacombe
 Craig Moore
 Corby Waste
 Annual Rediscovery Award
 2012 Fredric Brown
 2011 Katherine MacLean
 2010 Mark Clifton
 2009 A. Merritt
 2008 Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2007 Daniel F Galouye
 2006 William Hope Hodgson
 2005 Leigh Brackett
 Leigh Brackett: Her Biography
 2004 Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
 2003 Edgar Pangborn
 2002 R. A. Lafferty
 2001 Olaf Stapledon
 Cordwainer Smith Foundation
 Cordwainer Smith T-Shirts
 Cordwainer Smith: Other Online Resources
 Contact Us
 Illustrated Bibliography, by Mike Bennett
 Introduction to the Illustrated Bibliography
 All the Stories and All the Books
 Chronological Book List
 Magazine Covers
 Book Covers
 Book Covers: Best of Cordwainer Smith
 Book Covers: Instrumentality of Mankind
 Book Covers: Norstrilia
 Book Covers: Planet Buyer
 Book Covers: Rediscovery of Man
 Book Covers: Quest of the Three Worlds
 Book Covers: Space Lords
 Book Covers: Stardreamer
 Book Covers: Under Old Earth
 Book Covers: Underpeople
 Book Covers: You Will Never Be the Same
 Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger - Chronology
 Press Releases
 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Goes to Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2002: About the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award
 2001: First Rediscovery Award Ceremony
 2001: Creation of Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award