The Rediscovery of Man

Cordwainer Smith
The Rediscovery of Man Cover

The Rediscovery of Man


This collection of stories. written over two decades from 1950 to 1971, has connections with, or at least tendrils in Norstrilia, Smith's only novel. The stories are alternately bizarre or surreal, they fit the descriptor 'dickian'. Smith has a distinctive style. It put me in mind of James Tiptree, Jr.

At a little over 80 pages, novella length, The Dead Lady of Clown Town is one of the best. It does get a little bizarre at the end. Elaine, the protagonist, becomes a mere observer. One of the primary characters, D'joan, ostensibly in a role of Joan of Arc, becomes a Christlike figure.

The introduction to the final story, A Planet Named Shayol, begins: 'Smith acknowledged a debt to Dante in this story, which retells parts of the Inferno in science fiction form - but with a twist distinctly Smith's own.' I coincidentally have been simultaneously reading Dante's Divine Comedy which begins with Inferno.