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Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 08:06
by Apjak
So I'm cruising info on the forum I go to for Neon Genesis Evangelion discussion, and I follow the rabbit hole of links to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordwainer_Smith

Has anybody here read this guy? He seems to have a bit of a JP following, as several things I have seen have references to his work.

his stories feature strange and vivid creations, such as:

* the planet Norstrilia (Old North Australia), a semi-arid planet where an immortality drug called stroon is harvested from gigantic, virus-infected sheep each weighing more than 100 tons. Norstrilians are nominally the richest people in the galaxy and defend their immensely valuable stroon with sophisticated weapons (as shown in the story "Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons"). However, extremely high taxes ensure that everyone on the planet lives a frugal, rural life, like the farmers of old Australia, to keep the Norstrilians tough.

Before being published in a single novel in 1975, portions of Norstrilia were published as two short novels: The Planet Buyer in 1964, and as The Underpeople in 1968.


Stroon Dune Dune Stroon

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 08:29
by Drunken Idaho
Sounds to me like an Australian farmer had too much time on his hands, read Dune, and took a break from shagging his sheep to write a sci-fi novel.

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 09:18
by Schu
Drunken Idaho wrote:Sounds to me like an Australian farmer had too much time on his hands, read Dune, and took a break from shagging his sheep to write a sci-fi novel.


No no no, it's the Kiwis that shag sheep.

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 09:58
by Apjak
Drunken Idaho wrote:Sounds to me like an Australian farmer had too much time on his hands, read Dune, and took a break from shagging his sheep to write a sci-fi novel.


Excepting that he received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University, and that he quite literally wrote THE book on psychological warfare.
Image

And upon further research, of course, Omph reviewed it.
http://www.omphalosbookreviews.com/inde ... ws/info/35

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 10:55
by Omphalos
A guy named Alan Elms is in the process of writing a biography on Smith. He plans on adding a pretty decent sized section on this issue. Ive spoken to him once or twice and he seems to have his head wrapped around in pretty good.

Smith was also the godson of Sun Yat Sen and was a very good friend to Chang Kai Sheck. After the revolution in China Smith probably became a spy. Hopefully Elms will uncover some new information about this.

I also have read the Psychological Warfare book (or at least a part of it). Interesting reading. They had a copy of it in the library at the "Beltway Bandit" intelligence contractor I used to work for.

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 11:00
by Omphalos
Schu wrote:
Drunken Idaho wrote:Sounds to me like an Australian farmer had too much time on his hands, read Dune, and took a break from shagging his sheep to write a sci-fi novel.


No no no, it's the Kiwis that shag sheep.


Da-a-a-a-dy! I lo-o-o-o-ve you!

By Jove, that sheep's got blue eyes!

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 12:55
by DuneFishUK
Omphalos wrote:A guy named Alan Elms is in the process of writing a biography on Smith. He plans on adding a pretty decent sized section on this issue. Ive spoken to him once or twice and he seems to have his head wrapped around in pretty good.

Smith was also the godson of Sun Yat Sen and was a very good friend to Chang Kai Sheck. After the revolution in China Smith probably became a spy. Hopefully Elms will uncover some new information about this.

I also have read the Psychological Warfare book (or at least a part of it). Interesting reading. They had a copy of it in the library at the "Beltway Bandit" intelligence contractor I used to work for.

..Where men are men, and sheep are... scared.

Sounds a bit intersting, will keep an eye out for this one.

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 13:32
by A Thing of Eternity
Cordwainer is one of my favourite SF authors, but I've only read his short fiction (which is mindblowing) so far. Anyone who can get their hands on some of his short stuff, especially one called Scanners Live In Vain should do so immediately.

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 14:20
by Omphalos
In the grand scheme of things Smith's short fiction is vastly superior to his novel length SF (there only one SF novel, but a few other non-genre long-fiction works too. The best book by far is NESFA's collection of all of Smith's short SF, The Rediscovery of Man, but for those of you who dont want to drop $25 on a hardback for an author that you have never read, and a book that you will never see in a bookstore, give these stories a try:

http://tau.solahpmo.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=759


This includes two or three of Smith's short masterpieces, though there are a few others not collected there. The NESFA book has about 26 or so stories in it, and very few of them are stinkers.

Scanners Live in Vain was also included in the SF Hall of Fame. A review of it can be found here:

http://www.omphalosbookreviews.com/inde ... s/info/116

Re: Cordwainer Smith, possible Dune inspiration?

Posted: 15 Oct 2009 17:45
by DuneFishUK
I've got at least one of his books.. just haven't gotten round to reading him yet. I'm rubbish at this reading lark. :( On the list though :P