9) The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith
I can’t quite believe it, but I don’t think I had ever read anything by Cordwainer Smith before, though I knew of his reputation. I hadn’t realised that his writing career was so short – first published in 1950, died aged 54 in 1967 – and sparse. This volume pulls together a dozen of his short stories, all loosely connected through his future history based on the controlling Instrumentality and featuring the planet Norstrilia. I found the style on the whole almost incomprehensible in places and yet weirdly compelling; tales told with utterly unselfconscious conviction, of beings whose consciousness teeters on the edge of human understanding. I may try and find a reader’s guide somewhere to help me understand what was going on, and then go back to it. Fascinating stuff.