Goblin Reservation Paperback – 1 Jan 1971
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"First-class entertainment." --The Sunday Times
"The finest novel in a merry mood that Simak has yet given us." --Fritz Leiber
Praise for Clifford D. Simak
"To read science fiction is to read Simak. The reader who does not like Simak stories does not like science fiction at all." --Robert A. Heinlein --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
During his fifty-five-year career, Clifford D. Simak produced some of the most iconic science fiction stories ever written. Born in 1904 on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin, Simak got a job at a small-town newspaper in 1929 and eventually became news editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writing fiction in his spare time.
Simak was best known for the book City, a reaction to the horrors of World War II, and for his novel Way Station. In 1953 City was awarded the International Fantasy Award, and in following years, Simak won three Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award. In 1977 he became the third Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and before his death in 1988, he was named one of three inaugural winners of the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Peter Maxwell was a professor at the College of Supernatural Phenomena, a unit within the planetary university that had become Earth's largest industry in a multi-species galactic civilization. He was, that is, until he was killed. Maxwell had gone to a faraway planet in the Coonskin star system to investigate the report that a dragon had been sighted there. The rumor turned out to be false, however, and Maxwell came back to Earth, only to turn up suspiciously dead a few days later.
Imagine the surprise that Earth's security agency felt when Peter Maxwell showed up again, very much alive, at a matter transmission station in Wisconsin. Upon being questioned, this Peter Maxwell said that he had never arrived at the Coonskin system. His "pattern" had been copied enroute and diverted to a Crystal Planet containing information about a technology far surpassing that of any planet in the entire galaxy. The shadowy alien residents of that planet originated in a previous incarnation of the universe, before the latest Big Bang, and they were looking for a worthy species to receive the inheritance of their accumulated learning. Peter Maxwell was to be the one to arrange the transfer of that knowledge to Earth.
But there was a problem. Not only did Peter Maxwell have to be alert for the murderers who caused the demise of his other self, he also had to contend with unemployment. After his death, the university had filled his position at Supernatural, leaving him without a job.
Maxwell teams up with Carol Hampton, a member of the faculty at Time College (which, among other things, had brought William Shakespeare forward through time to explain why he did not write the plays), Alley Oop (a Neanderthal who had been headed for the cannibalistic stewpot when rescued by Time), and a Ghost who can't remember whom he is the ghost of, in order to unravel the mystery of the forces seeking to prevent Earth from inheriting the knowledge of the Crystal Planet.
The answer to the mystery will involve a dragon, and the dragon's relationship to the Little Folk (goblins, fairies, banshees, and trolls) who live on reservations on the campus of the College of Supernatural Phenomena, as well as a mysterious alien race of "Wheelers" who, it turns out, have been the enemies of the Little Folk races for millions of years.
The Goblin Reservation is written with rare wit, and perhaps the best scene is the bar fight at the Pig & Whistle Tavern, where Peter Maxwell, Alley Oop, Ghost, Carol Hampton, and Carol Hampton's sabertooth tiger get mixed up in a violent dispute between groups of students who were politically polarized over "the William Shakespeare issue."
Just one regret lingers in the reader's mind after finishing The Goblin Reservation. Simak did not see fit to include the recipe for making sweet October ale (the favorite drink of goblins and trolls, and much favored by humans who can rarely get a tankard of it). What a pity.
Here we have Clifford Simak in frivolous mode. Although not written as an outright comedy, this is a funny, fast-moving tale narrated with dry wit and punctuated by moments of slapstick - a barroom brawl with aggrieved English Lit students, a delightfully silly denouement scene in which one character after another traipses in with their tuppence-worth for no immediately apparent reason, amongst others. And it doesn't feel nearly as dated as most SF books of this era, which is an achievement in itself.
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