Rereading Cordwainer Smith

A decade after I write Triple Think (2002-07-25), reminiscing about a striking plot element in an old Cordwainer Smith science fiction tale, a used-book-sale copy of The Instrumentality of Mankind comes to hand. It's a collection of 14 stories by Smith, mostly from the 1958-1963 era. Alas, upon rereading they're poetic but oddly less than I remember — dated, fusty, as yellow around the edges as the pages of the paperback itself. Lots of Nazis and Russians and Chinese villains, thrown into a tangled future. Not a lot of human character development. Hardly any science or technology.

Perhaps, as my wife speculates, Smith was ahead of his time in wrestling with philosophical issues. Now he seems rather backward, except in his sharp-edged wielding of language and metaphor. Or perhaps I've changed, and might change again if I read the same book in another decade?

(cf. Lord Love a Duck (2010-02-15), ...) - ^z - 2012-06-16