The Rediscovery of Man,
by Cordwainer Smith
I can't tell you what this book is like. Sure, I can say it
has 671 pages of acclaimed stories—every short story that
Cordwainer Smith ever wrote.
I can say that the devoted people at the New
England Science Fiction Association outdid themselves in
creating the most accurate texts possible. (They also did
this with the companion volume Norstrilia, the only
full-length science fiction novel that Cordwainer Smith
But still... what would you know about the essence of the
book, the fascination of seeing how Cordwainer Smith tells a
tale? So I'm going to let my father himself introduce his own
book, by quoting the beginnings of some of the stories.
If that makes you want to read more, you can get The
Rediscovery of Man quickly from a variety of places
online... see the bottom of this page. Also, some of the
stories can be read online; see my online resources page for
Contents of The Rediscovery of Man
Introduction by John J. Pierce, Editor's Introduction by
James A. Mann
Stories of the Instrumentality of
No, No, Not Rogov! ( read the beginning below)
War No. 8 1 -Q (rewritten version)
The Queen of the Afternoon
Scanners Live in Vain (read the beginning below)
The Lady Who Sailed The Soul
When the People Fell
Think Blue, Count Two
The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All
The Game of Rat and Dragon
The Burning of the Brain
From Gustible's Planet
Himself in Anachron
The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal
Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!
The Dead Lady of Clown Town
Under Old Earth (read the beginning below)
Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons
Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (read the beginning below)
The Ballad of Lost C'mell
A Planet Named Shayol
On the Gem Planet
On the Storm Planet
On the Sand Planet
Three to a Given Star
Down to a Sunless Sea
War No. 81-Q (original version)
Western Science Is So Wonderful
The Fife of Bodidharma
The Good Friends
Please note: There is a British
paperback with the identical title (The Rediscovery of
Man) which is available at the British Amazon, but it is a
reprint of the old Ballentine paperback Best of Cordwainer
Smith, and it only contains a dozen stories.
From "No, No, Not Rogov"
That golden shape on the golden steps shook and fluttered
like a bird gone mad—like a bird imbued with an intellect and a
soul, and, nevertheless, driven mad by ecstasies and terrors
beyond human understanding—ecstasies drawn momentarily down
into reality by the consummation of superlative art. A thousand
Had the ancient calendar continued, this would have been
AD 13,582. After defeat, after disappointment, after ruin and
reconstruction, mankind had leapt among the stars.
From "Scanners Live in Vain"
Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from
anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight.
When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the
expression on Luci's face that the table must have made a loud
crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was
not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action
was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs,
abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face, and back
with the mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry.
He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife
hated its blare and preferred to have him write.
"I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It's my
worry, isn't it?"
From "Under Old Earth"
I need a temporary dog
For a temporary job
On a temporary place
—Song from The Merchant of Menace
There were the Douglas-Oyang planets, which circled their
sun in a single cluster, riding around and around the same
orbit unlike any other planets known. There were the
gentlemen-suicides back on Earth, who gambled their lives—even
more horribly, gambled sometimes for things worse than their
lives—against different kinds of geophysics which real men had
never experienced. There were girls who fell in love with such
men, however stark and dreadful their personal fates might be.
There was the Instrumentality, with its unceasing labor to keep
man man. And there were the citizens who walked in the
boulevards before the Rediscovery of Man. The citizens were
happy. They had to be happy. If they were found sad, they were
calmed and drugged and changed until they were happy again.
This story concerns three of them: the gambler who took
the name Sun-boy, who dared to go down to the Gebiet, who
confronted himself before he died; the girl Santuna, who was
fulfilled in a thousand ways before she died; and the Lord Sto
Odin, a most ancient of days, who knew it all and never dreamed
of preventing any of it.
Music runs through this story. The soft sweet music of
the Earth government and the Instrumentality, bland as honey
and sickening in the end. The wild illegal pulsations of the
Gebiet, where most men were forbidden to enter. Worst of all,
the crazy fugues and improper melodies of the Bezirk, closed to
men for fifty-seven centuries—opened by accident, found,
trespassed in! And with it our story begins.
From "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard"
We were drunk with happiness in those early years. Everybody
was, especially the young people. These were the first years of
the Rediscovery of Man, when the Instrumentality dug deep in
the treasury, reconstructing the old cultures, the old
languages, and even the old troubles. The nightmare of
perfection had taken our forefathers to the edge of suicide.
Now under the leadership of the Lord Jestocost and the Lady
Alice More, the ancient civilizations were rising like great
land masses out of the sea of the past.
I myself was the first man to put a postage stamp on a
letter, after fourteen thousand years. I took Virginia to hear
the first piano recital. We watched at the eye-machine when
cholera was released in Tasmania, and saw the Tasmanians
dancing in the streets, now that they did not have to be
protected any more. Everywhere, things became exciting.
Everywhere, men and women worked with a wild will to build a
more imperfect world.
Where to Get The Rediscovery of Man
it's at Amazon.com:
And there are usually used copies at the British Amazon:
You can often find used copies of
the Rediscovery of Man at alibris.
You can also check eBay listings
here, for all Cordwainer Smith books in the US. For other
countries with eBay, see the right sidebar.
Of course, you can buy it directly from the publisher,
NESFA, but they do state on their
website that you need to allow several weeks for delivery.
(They are a volunteer organization.) I used to buy from them
wholesale and sell directly from this website, and my
experience was that it often did take a good while to get