Thu. May 30th, 2024

Space Lords

Cordwainer Smith


Short collection of Smith’s short fiction centred mainly around his Instrumentality universe. I have to say, Smith’s style is not my style, so much so that I couldn’t even finish the novella included, The Dead Lady of Clown Town. I like his subject matter (the stories are based on or inspired by some classic works and ideas, such as Rimbaud’s The Drunken Boat, Dante’s Inferno and Joan of Arc), but the execution leaves much to be desired. Smith’s writing is it’s own little world, sparse on details, big on sleight of hand and obscure in content (at least to me). And the themes and plots can be pretty repetitive: too many legal trials, hybrid animal underclasses and self mythologising. Smith likes to include songs about his characters whose deeds have attained myth status, but it’s just bad poetry. But the last story, A Planet Named Shayol, is a gem. A horror scifi take on Dante’s Inferno that is creepy and vivid.


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Personal Rating

Mother Hitton’s Littul Kittons

Crime, murder, defence systems, psychic weapons, Ali Baba, The Instrumentality

Justice, crime doesn’t pay


The Dead Lady of Clown Town

Joan of Arc reworked, The Instrumentality


Couldn’t finish


Rimbaud, faster than light travel, drugs, space cubed and its repercussions, resurrection, The Instrumentality

The power of love


The Ballad of Lost C’Mell

Underclass of animal hybrids, bureaucracy, The Instrumentality

Oppression, liberation


A Planet Named Shayol

Horror, Dante’s Inferno, body horror, drugs, The Instrumentality

Drugs and friendship will get you through