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From: David_Lebling@avid.com
Subject: (whorl) Cordwainer Smith reading order -- dissent
Date: Fri, 12 Sep 97 09:18:49 

[Posted from WHORL, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

Rostrum, Nutria, alga, et al.,

I'd have to disagree slightly with the Rodent of Unusual Size.

Don't read Smith in the chronological order set out in the NESFA books
(but do buy them -- run, do not walk!).

Read "The Ballad of Lost C'mell," then "Scanners Live in Vain," then
"The Game of Rat and Dragon."  After that, I would move on to "Alpha
Ralpha Boulevard" and eventually "Norstrilia."  Read "On the ... Planet"
(really a novel in three episodes) last.  Read the very early stuff and
the very late stuff (including posthumous collaborations with his wife,
Genevieve) only if you feel the need.  (Although, "Western Science is So
Wonderful" is an absolute hoot -- more like Rudy Rucker than Smith).

The idea is that you should read the middle stories, where the
Instrumentality figures prominently, first. You should absorb the
stories like you would absorb a huge, complex tapestry -- the
publication order would be better than the "history" order, but still
start with C'mell and Lord Jestocost.  Also, don't read the
introductions, timelines and afterwords until you've read everything

No one should read the Narnia books starting with "The Magician's
Nephew."  No one should read Smith starting with "War 81-Q" (or whatever
else is first).

I am Of a Certain Age, and started reading the late, lamented Galaxy
about when "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" was published.  I was hooked, and
a great deal of the wonder of it all was figuring out what was going on
in the whole future span Smith imagined.

As they say, "the Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve."

     -- vizcacha

ps: It is such a pleasure to find other Wolfe fans out there, and to
have them be Smith fans as well!  Ah, bliss.

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