The Gray Bunny (graybunny) wrote,
The Gray Bunny

Debris from ex-projects

A while back, I had an idea to do a website covering out-of-print science fiction and fantasy novels and giving accurate blurbs. My general thought was that there is a lot of old science fiction and fantasy which nobody has ever heard of anymore, and while you can find just about all of it on Abebooks or Alibris, you have to actually know what you're looking for. The only place to really browse the stuff is a used book store, if you have one handy.

While it might have worked, I just never had the time to even work up a proper seed for it, much less rally the crowds that would fill it in properly. I gave up with the thought that Wikipedia has the subject somewhat covered. More recently, Singularity & Co. popped up to approach the problem from a different angle.

But I did write a number of blurbs before I gave up, and I ran across them again recently. Here's one that I rather like:

Special Deliverance by Clifford D. Simak (1982)

Many of Simak's novels can be described in broad terms as "a group of people, typical of their society of origin, are drawn into a mysterious quest for an uncertain goal." That's a pretty vague formula and leaves Simak a lot of room for variations on the theme, but if you read enough of his work it does stand out as a repeating motif.

In this case, our protagonist is Edward Lansing, professor of English at a New England university in a United States which may be an alterniversal version, or perhaps just a slightly cockeyed vision of the near future. It doesn't really matter, because Professor Lansing is quickly presented with a minor mystery which he feels compelled to pursue, leading to greater mysteries, until he is shanghaied into another world entirely.

After walking far enough down the path through the woods on which he finds himself, Lansing encounters an inn, where he meets five others in similar circumstances. No two of the six come from the same world, and some of their worlds have histories which differ from Lansing's to the point of being unidentifiable. One of the few pieces of solid information which they are given is that other parties of a similar nature have arrived at the inn before, and that they leave following the path.

That's as weak an introduction as any band of hapless roleplayers ever got at the hands of a poor game master. Unfortunately for Professor Lansing and his fellows, they're living it and can't just go home, so they buy supplies and set out down the path, not sure where their goal may be found, or what it is, or even whether there is one.
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