The Spaced-Out Library

Books reviewed by the editor

This issue’s edition: REVOLT AND REBIRTH

By Jefferson Swycaffer

     Yes, I’m just doing one book per column on a thrice-yearly schedule, but each one of them is significant. If you purchase them at your friendly book dealers you will have bought what I consider to be a significant work of science fiction, and if you buy everything I have reviewed since I commenced the single book reviews you will have a very spaced out shelf, something that Elmwood Kraemer recommended that a science fiction fan should have. Space yourself with these editions, project yourself into the cosmos existing beyond space and time—well, almost beyond. These books are some of the farthest out of the sf books being published.

     Jefferson Swycaffer’s TALES OF THE CONCORDAT, consisting of three volumes, were VOYAGE OF THE PLANETSLAYER, EMPIRES LEGACY, and the one I am reviewing, REVOLT AND REBIRTH. These have in them people identifying themselves with the progress of races and empires without great concern, other than a solipsistic concern, for their own lives, which have little to do with the great progress of continuance. Looming over all of this is the author’s depth and scope as he presents vast passages of time and far reaches of space. His title has the same sense of scope as CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and WAR AND PEACE, but neither of these titles is cosmic regardless of the comprehensiveness of their attitude. BEING AND NOTHINGNESS is closer to having the kind of scope this book has.

     Swycaffer’s books did not seem to have the attention they deserved. The publisher, New Infinities Productions, Inc., was not very well known and eventually was not in business any longer. Apparently it was strictly a paperback outfit. As far as I know this did not get very much beyond its original circulation. I’ve not seen reviews of it anywhere. However, what people are missing are the very things I was mentioning, a sense of cosmic vastness and the ceaseless march of time. Within this we see people belittled by the immensity of it all, their technology, seemingly their chief achievement, having carried them all over the cosmos. (This is set far into the future.) The book is the apotheosis of books of its kind, namely war stories set in a universal hemisphere.  The degradation described is immesurable, the human spirit a buried thing. Man has tried to keep up with what there is and cannot do so. Vicious rulerships are established, which automatically bring about revolts, the revolts themselves being animalistic and all parties concerned not being deserving of life, unless life be given to them as a reaction to their entityship. The rebirth is a rebirth of the spirit, coming as a result of that spirit’s existence, symbolized in this book as an appreciation of music.  From the spirit’s point of view, death is an automatic and inherent occurrence and people are used to it due to its presence in everything—so the characters are not very careful of their lives, when it comes to any form of activity which is not proscribed.

     It’s a very good study of a pessimistic tradition with a feel of great things behind it, among them perhaps the trails cut through advancing time by varying concepts of reality.  In this book everyone has arrived for unknown reasons in a state of death which must have been a part of past life which has advanced consumingly, and may once have had its reason for being (raison d’etre). One can conceive of something else other than this solid state of desolation, but here they’re not even trying to find something else—but revolt and rebirth is part of their natural processes.

     The reader might try this book to see how Jefferson Swycaffer’s thoughts work out for them.