Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sci-fi book cover: "October the First Is Too Late"

  • Title: October the First Is Too Late
  • Author: Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001)
  • Cover artist: Uncredited, but likely Paul Lehr (1930-1998)
  • Publisher: Fawcett Crest (R1155)
  • Cover price: 60 cents
  • Original year of publication: 1966
  • Date of this edition: July 1968
  • Pages: 160
  • Format: Paperback
  • Provenance: Two blue stamps on the first page indicate that this book was once part of the inventory at The Paperback Trade, located in Maple Village Plaza in York, Pennsylvania.1
  • Back-cover excerpt: "OCTOBER THE FIRST IS TOO LATE unfolds the incredible adventures on a planet twisted by time splits. The familiar world of the 1960's has vanished everywhere except in England. In Western Europe World War I is still raging, Greece is in the Golden Age of Pericles, America is thousands of years into the future, while Russia and Asia are nothing but a glasslike plain incapable of sustaining life — the final phase before the end of the earth as we know it."
  • To the reader: Hoyle pens this note before the prelude: "The 'science' in this book is mostly scaffolding for the story, story-telling in the traditional sense. However, the discussions of the significance of time and the meaning of consciousness are intended to be quite serious, as also are the contents of chapter fourteen."
  • First sentence: "I had been invited to compose a piece for the Festival of Contemporary Music, Cologne, 1966."
  • Last sentence: "The irony and tragedy is that to the two of us it was the world of 1966 that was the real cul-de-sac."
  • Random sentence from middle: "It wasn't long before two flutes and a lyre appeared."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.41 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review: There is a lot of "love it" or "really hate it" among the Goodreads reviews for this book. In 2017, Lawrence wrote: "More fun as a time machine to 1966 fiction than as a satisfying novel in itself... the premise ought to have been fascinating, but instead the most enjoyable parts of the book were the long discussions of the protagonist's work as a composer."
  • Amazon rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Amazon review excerpt: In 2015, Christopher Paul Winter wrote: "I admire Fred Hoyle and I like his other novels Ossian's Ride and A for Andromeda, but I was not impressed by this one. Its major premise is not well developed and it makes no sense to me that a musician, however prominent, should be taking part in so many military missions and emergency government conclaves."
  • Notes: Hoyle was a fascinating fellow. In addition to writing science-fiction novels, he was first and foremost an astronomer and astrophysicist. He could be a little cranky and contrary regarding scientific theories that related to the universe and life on Earth. He gave the Big Bang theory its name, but rejected its hypothesis. He touted panspermia — essentially the population of the universe by space dust and other celestial bodies carrying microorganisms — as the likely origin of life on Earth. Coincidentally, his name and ideas have come up repeatedly in a book I've been reading this summer: The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, by Paul Davies. ... Hoyle also got himself in a bit of hot water in 1974 by publicly standing up for Jocelyn Bell, who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967 but was excluded from the Nobel Prize in Physics that was awarded for the discovery. Hoyle's curmudgeon tendencies, his refusals to always side with "generally accepted science" and his public statement about Bell and the 1974 Nobel Prize probably cost him a Nobel prize of his own in the early 1980s. He probably didn't care.

1. I found an interesting online reference for The Paperback Trade, a York bookstore that I frequented in the mid 1990s. The reference is part of an 188-page PDF of a 1994 report titled "Adult Basic & Literacy Education as Storytelling: A Reading/Writing Project." The project was created via a grant to Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12 of New Oxford, Pennsylvania. Here's the excerpt:
"Do you know if there are paperback/book exchange businesses in your area? For years we have been visiting two such businesses in the York area, but only in the last few years have we shopped there for books to put into our Storytelling/ABLE Library. The Paperback Trade is located just north of York on Route 30 in the Maple Village Plaza No. 2 strip mall. It is a large supermarket-sized single room containing thousands of used paperbacks in row after row of easy-to-reach person-high shelving in the middle and ceiling-high shelving around the walls. It is a book lover's dream come true! If you have any paperbacks (in good condition, please!) to exchange, take them to the counter as soon as you come in. A friendly staff member will go through your pile of paperbacks and tell you what they will accept. You will then receive a credit slip for one-fourth (25%) of the cover price total of your books. Don't expect to receive any money. After you have browsed through the very large collection at The Paperback Trade, you will probably have found some books you want to acquire. Take them to the counter. A store employee will charge you one-half (50%) of the total cover price of the books you buy. If you have a credit slip for that amount or more, you don't have to pay a cent in cash for your 'purchase.' If you have no credit, they will be happy to take your money. ... The other similar business in our area is The Recycled Reader. This store is located off Kenneth & Loucks Rd., one-quarter mile east of the West Manchester Mall, and just a few miles away from The Paperback Trade."

1 comment:

  1. You knew my friend Justin’s parents were The Paperback Trade’s owners, right?