Wise in the Ways of Procrastination: James Davis Nicoll on the Science Fiction Book Club, and Five Great Books He Never Meant to Read

Wise in the Ways of Procrastination: James Davis Nicoll on the Science Fiction Book Club, and Five Great Books He Never Meant to Read

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Three Hainish Novels (SFBC, 1978), John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (Del Rey, 1981),
and Triplicity (SFBC, 1980) by Thomas M. Disch. Covers: Jack Woolhiser, Murray Tinkelman, and Ron Logan

Over at Tor.com, occasional Black Gate contributor James Davis Nicoll has penned a charming look back at the way the Science Fiction Book Club introduced him to some terrific science fiction.

While but a callow youth, I subscribed to the Science Fiction Book Club. The club, wise in the ways of procrastination, would send each month’s selection of books to subscribers UNLESS the subscribers had sent the club a card informing the SFBC that one did not want the books in question. All too often I planned to send the card off, only to realize (once again), when a box of books arrived, that intent is not at all the same thing as action.

Thus, I received books that I would not have chosen but, once in possession, I read and enjoyed them. All praise to the SFBC and the power of procrastination! Here are five of my favorite unintended reading experiences…

Anyone who was a member of the SFBC knows of what James speaks — this is exactly how I discovered Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Check out the complete article here.

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Thomas Parker

The Science Fiction Book Club two volume edition of A Treasury of Great Science Fiction was a real gateway drug for me. One jolt of The Stars My Destination and I was hopelessly hooked for life.

Eugene R.

Loved, loved, and still love those SFBC omnibus editions, like all the books of Skaith in one ‘Book of Skaith’. And I did have a few surprises, like CJ Cherryh’s “Pride of Chanur” showing up unannounced. But, back then, when I had world enough and time, I was able to read it and pop it back into its box for a return, all within 3 days. *sigh*

Eugene R.

Comparing our initial SFBC orders, mine was: “The Foundation Trilogy”, “The Hugo Winners, Vol 1 and 2”, “Three to Dorsai!”, and “The Sword of Shannara”. I’m betting we have a lot of the same books on our respective shelves, proving that great minds think alike … and you and me, too!

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