Saturday, December 08, 2007

Norstrilia

Written in 1960, Cordwainer Smith's charming (and only) SF novel, Norstrilia, might contain the first usage of "Instant Messaging". Wouldn't surprise me. There's so much in the book, amidst the cat people, thousand-ton sheep and assassin kookaburra, that is out of step with the times -stepping forward from the times- that the author pulls off a very convincing performance as prestidigitator.
He coins instant messages as "instantaneous, interplanetary communications," which is sort of similar to what we have on the 'net today. Not yet between planets, but instant nonetheless. They are mentioned twice, hardly a major plot point.
Prognostications aside, I do recommend the book to fans of the serious-minded SF, for elements of future politics and economies. While not aspiring to space opera, like Asimov or Herbert, elements of galactic adventure are plentiful. Mostly it's a tale of a boy who buys the planet Earth and his encounters with colorful characters who would be at home in a romp, Douglas Adams-style.

2 comments:

jonathan said...

I'm getting so many good Sci-Fi recommendations from your blog! I've been really hungry for some good SF, thanks! Can't wait to read your own either...

wngl said...

This one in particular is really sticking with me, Jonathan. I'm finicky when it comes to the genre, and pretty rarely -even with SF that I love- do I find the material charming. This book has heaps of charm.

I will forward you some chapters (from my book) this weekend. Not nearly so charming, but you might find some merit in it.