Shrouded Planet, The

In 1956 Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett were young, hungry, and astoundingly prolific, the perfect recipe for hack pulp writers and their successors, the hack digest writers. Silverberg and Garrett published over five dozen stories during that year, seventeen of them as collaborations using the pseudonyms Gordon Aghill, Alexander Blade, Richard Greer, Clyde Mitchell, Leonard G. Spencer, and Gerald Vance. Collaboration was easy for them: they literally lived next door to one another in a New York apartment building. Garrett, who had been publishing for five years, introduced the younger Silverberg to the small world of New York editors. (Harlan Ellison lived on a different floor in the same building.) Garrett’s guidance brought immediate success. In 1956 and for a few years afterward, they contributed as much as half of all the fiction published in many issues of the second-tier publications like Amazing, Fantastic, Imagination, SF Adventures, Science Fiction Stories, and Super-Science Fiction. They succeeded by trading on the idiosyncrasies of the editors, writing to please them rather than audiences.

Nobody had a bigger set of crochets than John W. Campbell at Astounding. Campbell had no truck with aliens: he insisted that humans always be smarter, stronger, and more ornery than any other species. The pair gave that to him in spades for a series of connected stories. They also used a new pseudonym for it, Robert Randall. Why they used a pseudonym at all isn’t known; certainly Campbell had no problem with publishing collaborations under the real names of both writers. Perhaps it was an inside joke. After Campbell died, three unpublished novellas from the early 1930s were found and published under the title The Space Beyond. One of the stories stars a Robert Randall who discovers a miraculous new element. Could Campbell have remembered the name and suggested it? Whoever came up with it, Silverberg and Garrett ran with the name, using it for almost a dozen stories besides those in Astounding. One of those, “No Future in This,” ran in the May issue of Science Fiction Quarterly, a month before the first Astounding story, but that could be merely an quirk of scheduling.

Contents and original publication:

• “Prologue” (original to this volume)
• “240th Cycle” (original to this volume)
• “Kiv” (originally published as “The Chosen People” in Astounding Science Fiction, June 1956)
• “243th Cycle” (original to this volume)
• “”Sindi” (originally published as “The Promised Land” in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1956)
• “245th Cycle” (original to this volume)
• “Norvis” (originally published as “False Prophet” in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1956)

Floyd C. Gale reviewed the novel in the October 1958 Galaxy.

SF is full of stories of the uplifting of backward cultures by the Good Earth, but few depict her as the sponsor of a heartless program that replaces happiness with its pursuit.

The Shrouded Planet, by Robert Randall (pseud. of Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett), 1957, 25 Sept. 57, title #59, 188 pages, $3.00. 5000 copies printed (2038 remaindered).

Hardback. Black boards with blue shadow lettering. Jacket design not listed, credited today to Wallace Wood. “First Edition” on copyright page. Manufactured by H. Wolff. Back cover: 35 titles. Gnome Press address is given as P. O. Box 161, Hicksville, N. Y.