The Remakable Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

The Rediscovery of Man,
by Cordwainer Smith

I can't tell you what this book is like. Sure, I can say it has 671 pages of acclaimed stories—every short story that Cordwainer Smith ever wrote.

The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith -- book coverI can say that the devoted people at the New England Science Fiction Association outdid themselves in creating the most accurate texts possible. (They also did this with the companion volume Norstrilia, the only full-length science fiction novel that Cordwainer Smith wrote.)

But still... what would you know about the essence of the book, the fascination of seeing how Cordwainer Smith tells a tale? So I'm going to let my father himself introduce his own book, by quoting the beginnings of some of the stories.

If that makes you want to read more, you can get The Rediscovery of Man quickly from a variety of places online... see the bottom of this page. Also, some of the stories can be read online; see my online resources page for details.

Contents of The Rediscovery of Man

Introduction by John J. Pierce, Editor's Introduction by James A. Mann

Stories of the Instrumentality of Mankind

No, No, Not Rogov! ( read the beginning below)
War No. 8 1 -Q (rewritten version)
Mark Elf
The Queen of the Afternoon
Scanners Live in Vain (read the beginning below)
The Lady Who Sailed The Soul
When the People Fell
Think Blue, Count Two
The Colonel Came Back from the Nothing-at-All
The Game of Rat and Dragon
The Burning of the Brain
From Gustible's Planet
Himself in Anachron
The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal
Golden the Ship Was-Oh! Oh! Oh!
The Dead Lady of Clown Town
Under Old Earth (read the beginning below)
Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons
Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (read the beginning below)
The Ballad of Lost C'mell
A Planet Named Shayol
On the Gem Planet
On the Storm Planet
On the Sand Planet
Three to a Given Star
Down to a Sunless Sea

Other Stories

War No. 81-Q (original version)
Western Science Is So Wonderful
The Fife of Bodidharma
The Good Friends

Please note: There is a British paperback with the identical title (The Rediscovery of Man) which is available at the British Amazon, but it is a reprint of the old Ballentine paperback Best of Cordwainer Smith, and it only contains a dozen stories. Confusing!

From "No, No, Not Rogov"

That golden shape on the golden steps shook and fluttered like a bird gone mad—like a bird imbued with an intellect and a soul, and, nevertheless, driven mad by ecstasies and terrors beyond human understanding—ecstasies drawn momentarily down into reality by the consummation of superlative art. A thousand worlds watched.
  Had the ancient calendar continued, this would have been AD 13,582. After defeat, after disappointment, after ruin and reconstruction, mankind had leapt among the stars.

From "Scanners Live in Vain"

Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci's face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face, and back with the mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.
  "I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It's my worry, isn't it?"

From "Under Old Earth"

I need a temporary dog
For a temporary job
On a temporary place
  Like Earth!

—Song from The Merchant of Menace


There were the Douglas-Oyang planets, which circled their sun in a single cluster, riding around and around the same orbit unlike any other planets known. There were the gentlemen-suicides back on Earth, who gambled their lives—even more horribly, gambled sometimes for things worse than their lives—against different kinds of geophysics which real men had never experienced. There were girls who fell in love with such men, however stark and dreadful their personal fates might be. There was the Instrumentality, with its unceasing labor to keep man man. And there were the citizens who walked in the boulevards before the Rediscovery of Man. The citizens were happy. They had to be happy. If they were found sad, they were calmed and drugged and changed until they were happy again.
  This story concerns three of them: the gambler who took the name Sun-boy, who dared to go down to the Gebiet, who confronted himself before he died; the girl Santuna, who was fulfilled in a thousand ways before she died; and the Lord Sto Odin, a most ancient of days, who knew it all and never dreamed of preventing any of it.
  Music runs through this story. The soft sweet music of the Earth government and the Instrumentality, bland as honey and sickening in the end. The wild illegal pulsations of the Gebiet, where most men were forbidden to enter. Worst of all, the crazy fugues and improper melodies of the Bezirk, closed to men for fifty-seven centuries—opened by accident, found, trespassed in! And with it our story begins.

From "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard"

We were drunk with happiness in those early years. Everybody was, especially the young people. These were the first years of the Rediscovery of Man, when the Instrumentality dug deep in the treasury, reconstructing the old cultures, the old languages, and even the old troubles. The nightmare of perfection had taken our forefathers to the edge of suicide. Now under the leadership of the Lord Jestocost and the Lady Alice More, the ancient civilizations were rising like great land masses out of the sea of the past.
  I myself was the first man to put a postage stamp on a letter, after fourteen thousand years. I took Virginia to hear the first piano recital. We watched at the eye-machine when cholera was released in Tasmania, and saw the Tasmanians dancing in the streets, now that they did not have to be protected any more. Everywhere, things became exciting. Everywhere, men and women worked with a wild will to build a more imperfect world.

Where to Get The Rediscovery of Man

it's at

And there are usually used copies at the British Amazon:

You can often find used copies of the Rediscovery of Man at alibris.

You can also check eBay listings here, for all Cordwainer Smith books in the US. For other countries with eBay, see the right sidebar.

Of course, you can buy it directly from the publisher, NESFA, but they do state on their website that you need to allow several weeks for delivery. (They are a volunteer organization.) I used to buy from them wholesale and sell directly from this website, and my experience was that it often did take a good while to get orders.


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NEW! His spy thriller  Atomsk, written as Carmichael Smith, is now on the Kindle!
Click on the image to find out more at Amazon.

Atomsk Kindle version

 The Blog
 His Books
 The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith
 Norstrilia, by Cordwainer Smith
 Atomsk, by Carmichael Smith
 Ria, by Felix C. Forrest
 Carola, by Felix C. Forrest
 Psychological Warfare, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul, by Paul M. A. Linebarger
 Letters from Paul: One Letter
 Books about His Science Fiction
 Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, by Anthony Lewis
 The Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, by Karen Hellekson
 Exploring Cordwainer Smith, Booklet by Andrew Porter
 Where You Can Get Books
 Cordwainer Smith at Amazon
 Cordwainer Smith at Alibris
 Cordwainer Smith at AbeBooks
 Cordwainer Smith on eBay
 Cordwainer Smith, the Author
 A Cordwainer Smith Panel Discussion
 Scholarly Corner, by Alan C. Elms
 What Other Science Fiction Authors Say
 What Readers Say
 Paul M. A. Linebarger, the Man
 Family Photos
 A Daughter's Memories
 Was Paul Linebarger Kirk Allen?
 His Arlington National Cemetery Bio and My Comments
 Rosana's Ramblings
 Rambling 1: Shakespeare Had It Wrong
 Rambling 2: The Return of C'mell, Sort Of
 Art Inspired by Cordwainer Smith
 Virgil Finlay
 Pierre Lacombe
 Craig Moore
 Corby Waste
 Annual Rediscovery Award
 2012 Fredric Brown
 2011 Katherine MacLean
 2010 Mark Clifton
 2009 A. Merritt
 2008 Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2007 Daniel F Galouye
 2006 William Hope Hodgson
 2005 Leigh Brackett
 Leigh Brackett: Her Biography
 2004 Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
 2003 Edgar Pangborn
 2002 R. A. Lafferty
 2001 Olaf Stapledon
 Cordwainer Smith Foundation
 Cordwainer Smith T-Shirts
 Cordwainer Smith: Other Online Resources
 Contact Us
 Illustrated Bibliography, by Mike Bennett
 Introduction to the Illustrated Bibliography
 All the Stories and All the Books
 Chronological Book List
 Magazine Covers
 Book Covers
 Book Covers: Best of Cordwainer Smith
 Book Covers: Instrumentality of Mankind
 Book Covers: Norstrilia
 Book Covers: Planet Buyer
 Book Covers: Rediscovery of Man
 Book Covers: Quest of the Three Worlds
 Book Covers: Space Lords
 Book Covers: Stardreamer
 Book Covers: Under Old Earth
 Book Covers: Underpeople
 Book Covers: You Will Never Be the Same
 Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger - Chronology
 Press Releases
 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Goes to Stanley G. Weinbaum
 2002: About the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award
 2001: First Rediscovery Award Ceremony
 2001: Creation of Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award