Yesterday was a fun work day — polishing a section on Herbert, sketching one on Heinlein, some heavy-lifting with Jack Chalker, and then happily typing away about Manning’s The Man Who Awoke until 2 am. Manning reads very much like above-average ’30s-era pulp sf, but his work ages better than most of his contemporaries.
For reasons I won’t be describing in my book, I have a special place in my heart for him. The Man was a series of five stories in Wonder Stories, 1933. To my sorrow, I DON’T have a dusty pile of old pulp mags in my office, so I bought the 1975 ‘fix-up’ for the usual $0.01+shipping. (For the uninitiated, quite a few early 20th century sf ‘novels’ were originally separate stories set in the same world or with overlapping characters, only later pasted together–usually with little or no editing–to be resold as a paperback. Think The Martian Chronicles, Foundation, and Orphans of the Sky.)
So last autumn, I’m delighted to find The Man beautifully fits the framework I’m building for the history of representations of religion in science fiction. Specifically, a religion-like-but-secular group with a charismatic leader has found a route to transcending the individual and discovering if there’s a purpose to life via a pretty imaginative technological gadget. (How, you ask? I don’t want to ruin it for you: buy the book. I suppose you could wait for mine, but it’ll cost a lot more than $0.01+shipping! At least at first . . . oh, I need a cuppa.)
Anyway, things were going swimmingly until I come across a passage that–insofar as I understood the genre–just shouldn’t be there. Manning devoted a couple pages to positing that there could be a Creator, that maybe humans are more than just physical, and other ideas that seemed similarly anachronistic. [Enter frustrations and denial, histrionic declarations of disaster, &c.]
The nice lady at the UVM interlibrary loan department [thanks, Barbara!] was kind enough to acquire scans of the original issues. THE OFFENDING PASSAGE WASN’T THERE. That is, the part that sounded ‘way too modern to be in a 1933 story wasn’t in the 1933 story, but had been added (and was the only thing added) to republish it for 1975 audiences. Incidentally, all that about an anonymous Creator did fit my model for 1975 . . .
I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m still feeling a little smug! ;o)