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Humpty Dumpty: An Oval

Damon Knight

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Fiction, Science fiction

Humpty Dumpty is a breakthrough work for this acknowledged master of the fantastic, an intriguing, entertaining, and immensely appealing novel of a man trying to make sense of a world gone mad. The tale begins when Wellington Stout wakes in an Italian hospital, uncertain how or why he came to be there. Gradually he learns that he was shot in the head in a Milan restaurant the night before his stepdaughter's wedding, perhaps because of a mysterious packet his brother asked him to deliver. The doctors tell him he is fortunate to be alive, but Stout has his doubts. For the bullet that has entered his skull has also opened cracks in the fabric of reality, and, as in the old nursery rhyme, no force on Earth or in Heaven can put it back together again. Soon Stout is hearing voices foretelling his doom, encountering antediluvian cabals of dentists, extraterrestrial shoe salesmen, gargantuan rodents, seductive adolescent sibyls, and giant craters opening across the face of North America, and traveling on an uncertain odyssey through a distorted landscape made of the fragments of his own life and memory.

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Damon Knight

Damon Francis Knight was born in Oregon in 1922. He is regarded as one of the most important figures in modern science fiction, having made significant contributions to the field as an author, editor and critic. Knight co-founded the Milford Writers' Conference, the influential Clarion Workshop and the Science Fiction Writers of America, serving as its first president from 1965-67. Around this time he also made his reputation as one of the field's foremost anthologists. Beginning with reprint collections, in 1966 he launched the influential Orbit series of original anthologies. Starting with Orbit 1, the series would continue for over a decade, concluding in 1980 with Orbit 21. Orbit was the longest running and most influential anthology series in SF up to that point, showcasing such important authors as Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty and Knight's third wife, Kate Wilhelm. A master of short fiction, Damon Knight is best known in wider circles as the author of TO SERVE MANKIND, which was adapted for THE TWILIGHT ZONE and later spoofed in a Hallowe'en episode of THE SIMPSONS. He was granted the SFWA's GRAND MASTER AWARD in 1995, and in 2002, SFWA renamed it the DAMON KNIGHT GRAND MASTER AWARD in his honour. He died in 2002.

For more information see www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/knight_damon

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