Forgotten Book: The Wall Around The World

The Wall Around the World by Theodore R. Cogswell, Pyramid Books, 1962 mass market paperback. Science Fiction and Fantasy short story collection, two introductions and 10 short stories (described in the cover blurb as two novelettes and 8 short stories)

Not long ago, I read a blog post about the June 1952 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine, and the cover story “The Spector General” by Kurt Dixon, a pseudonym of Theodore Cogswell. I remembered that issue, the cover art was familiar, but I couldn’t recall one darn thing about the story. The blog post praised the story and Cogswell and it motivated me to seek and buy this collection.

I’m sure glad I did, because there are pretty darn good stories, and three of them, “Spector General”, “The Wall Around the World” and “Invasion Report” are better than good, they’re terrific. While “Wolfie” is the weakest of the lot, the truth is I liked all of them pretty much and would recommend this collection to anyone.

Notice there are two introductions? You don’t see that every day, and there’s a reason for them being here: labels. At the time this was published, labels were a big deal in SF and in Fantasy and there was a lot of feeling that the two of them should not cross, touch, be combined or in any way contaminate each other. Elves and swords stayed on one side of “the line” and rockets and aliens stayed on the other. So Boucher and Pohl both make, in their own way, a case for the reader to forget the labels, don’t worry about genre, and just read and enjoy the stories, which is very good advice from knowledgeable persons.

I’d buy this for “The Spector General” alone, and did, I guess, so the rest was all a bonus, and what a nice one it is.

Contents:

  • Fantasy and/or Science Fiction · Anthony Boucher · introduction # 1
  • Fantasy in Science Fiction—No · Frederik Pohl · introduction # 2
  • “The Masters”  (first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, 1954)
  • “The Specter General”  (first published in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1952)
  • “Wolfie”  (first published in Beyond Fantasy Fiction, January 1954)
  • “Emergency Rations”  (first published in Imagination, September 1953)
  • “The Burning”  (first published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1960
  • “Thimgs”  (first published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1958)
  • “Test Area”,  (first published in Fantastic Universe, February 1955)
  • “Prisoner of Love”  (first publication unk)
  • “Invasion Report”  (first published in Galaxy, August 1954)
  • “The Wall Around the World”  (first published in Beyond Fantasy Fiction, September 1953)

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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8 Responses to Forgotten Book: The Wall Around The World

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    No, I don’t know it – or him – so certainly fits. You can get a paperback for about $7.50 and up, it seems, but there is a Megapack edition (supposed to be the first of three that will cover all of his short stories) available for$.99. And your favorite story is in it.

  2. I’ve seen this book a dozen times at various Library Sales, but I’ve passed it up. Next time, I’m buying it.

  3. tracybham says:

    This looks very good and I am sure I would enjoy the two introductions. I will definitely find a copy. I may wait until the Fall Book Sale, I may go searching for a copy at abebooks.com.

  4. Howard says:

    Oh, wow, I read this in ’62 or thereabouts, as a teenage SF fan. I remember liking the book, but that’s about it. Time to read it again. Thanks for the memories.

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