Norstrilia by Cordwainer Smith, a pseudonym for the late Paul Linebarger, is his vintage classic science fiction novel, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Phoenix Pick Press.
This is their featured Free Book of the Month for September, and was originally published in parts as two novels, the Hugo Award-finalist The Planet Buyer in 1964, followed by The Underpeople in 1968, before being reunited in the author’s original one-volume form in 1975 from Ballantine Books, which won Japan’s 1988 Seiun Award for Best Translated Long Story and has placed twice on Locus Magazine’s All-Time Best SF Novel lists.
The story takes place in the author’s “Instrumentality of Mankind” future history setting where a vigorous central government arising from a post-apocalyptic Earth has expanded into space and then stagnated, setting up the conditions for the revival of humanity from its increasingly sterile dysfunction. This adventure is heavily influenced by the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, starring the misfit scion of an ancient family on the only planet where a precious immortality drug is cultivated, who runs afoul of enemies whose machinations force him to flee to Earth for safety, where his wealth quickly makes him a target for the potentially more dangerous schemes of assorted crooks and revolutionaries.
Offered through October 5th (the monthly freebie rotates on the first Tuesday), available DRM-free worldwide directly from the publisher.
Available @ the publisher’s dedicated promo page (ePub & Mobi bundle available worldwide, requires valid email address but no payment info, follow the instructions on the page to reset the cart price to $0 before checking out).
As a special bonus offer on the sale page, two reprint collections of classic science fiction stories are discounted to just $2.99 each: The Best of Cordwainer Smith edited by J. J. Pierce (originally published in 1975 by Ballantine Books, and placed 2nd on the annual Locus Award listings for Best Single Author Collection) and The Best of Edmond Hamilton edited by his wife the late Leigh Brackett (1977 from Ballantine), a notable science fiction author in her own right and scriptwriting contributor to the Star Wars film franchise.
Welcome to Old North Australia, or Norstrilia, the only planet that has “stroon,” a substance that indefinitely delays aging in humans. Stroon is cultivated from huge, deformed sheep farmed by the wealthiest estate owners to ever exist in all of humanity’s existence.
Rod McBan is the last of one of the oldest and most honorable families on Norstrilia. But he himself has shortcomings that would normally have led to his death under the strict laws governing population control on a planet where immortality is cheap and imperfect citizens are ruthlessly “culled” to make way for more productive members of society.
But even McBan’s vaunted stature in the society is not enough to save him from the basest of human emotions—jealousy—as the enmity of a former friend forces him to escape to Earth, where McBan’s unprecedented fortune quickly makes him a magnet for all manner of crooks and revolutionaries.