Vintage Treasures: The Sky is Filled With Ships by Richard C. Meredith

Vintage Treasures: The Sky is Filled With Ships by Richard C. Meredith

The Sky Is Filled with Ships (Ballantine Books, 1969). Cover by Jerome Podwil

Richard C. Meredith died tragically young in 1979, at the age of 41. He left behind a body of work that’s still read and discussed today, including the Timeliner trilogy, We All Died at Breakaway Station (1969), which John Clute and Peter Nichols at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction call “a bleak, well-crafted space opera in a kind of Alamo setting, where a scarred cyborg crew must withstand both external alien enemies and the devils of introspection,” and Run, Come See Jerusalem! (1976), a complex and effective alternate history set in a world where the Nazis were victorious.

Although he sold his first stories to Fred Pohl at Worlds of Tomorrow in 1966, rightly or wrongly I still think of Meredith as a Campbell writer. He bought his first copy of Astounding at the age of 13 and became an instant fan, faithfully purchasing every issue until John W. Campbell passed away in 1971.

Meredith’s debut novel was The Sky Is Filled with Ships, published as a paperback original by Ballantine Books in 1969 with a striking cover by Jerome Podwil. It was selected to be part of Singularity & Co’s “Save the Sci-Fi” digital reissue campaign in 2013, and that put it in the hands of a lot of modern readers. I was surprised to see that it held up well with them, and enjoys an impressive 4.51 rating at Goodreads. BJ Haun’s 4-star review is fairly typical.

The Sky is Filled with Ships might be my favorite book to come out of Singularity & Co’s “Save the Sci-Fi” campaign thus far. It’s an interesting little story that has some action, some space battles, some intrigue, and maybe a couple too many melodramatic bits.

The Sky Is Filled with Ships is 184 pages, and was originally priced at 75 cents. It has been out of print since 1969, though it’s available in ebook formats from Singularity & Co. See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

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Rich Horton

I really enjoyed Richard C. Meredith’s books.

David Montgomery

I read all of Meredith’s novels when they were republished by Venture SF in the 1980’s. The cover art by Eddie Jones was stunning.

Rich Horton

Definitely there was that aspect in the Meredith books. And the women were very willing. There was a line in one in which the woman tells the hero something like “I’m fine horizontally, but I’m really great on my knees with my mouth in the right place” or something like that. (She was a prostitute.) It’s obviously sexist as heck, but to a 14 year old boy there was a certain titillative aspect — even though I knew very well even then that this was not a realistic representation of healthy sexual relationships.

But besides that, the books are just enjoyable space adventure. Not saying they were unjustly robbed of Hugos or anything — just that they were, as Phil said, “not a bad read” — even, I’d say, a pretty good read.

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