Here’s another book I’ve had on my shelves for decades. I bought The Virgin & The Wheels (1976) because of the cool wrap-around cover by Don Maitz. The Virgin & The Wheels consists of two novellas: “The Virgin of Zesh” and “The Wheels of If.”
“The Virgin of Zesh” is the fourth book of de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias series and the third of its sub-series of stories set on the fictional planet of Krishna. Chronologically, it is the fifth Krishna novella. Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1953, “The Virgin of Zesh” tells the story of Earth missionary Althea Merrick, who is stranded on the planet Krishna and fleeing from an unconsummated marriage to a corrupt and cruel Viagens Interplanetarias official. Merrick joins a scientist and poet who travel to a utopian Terran colony on the island of Zesh. Of course, many things go wrong. Althea Merrick finds her faith shaken by events. GRADE: B+
“The Wheels of If” is an alternate history science fiction story first published in the magazine Unknown Fantasy Fiction for October, 1940. “The Wheels of If” first appeared in book form in de Camp’s collection The Wheels of If and Other Science Fiction (1948). Lawyer Alister Park finds himself in alternate histories and needs to solve the puzzle of how to get back to his own time-line. GRADE: B
The Virgin & The Wheels collects two entertaining novellas from de Camp’s early writing career. If you’re looking for fun and diversion, here it is.