World – Longyear

Longyear (World 46)

Barry Longyear (1942 – ; first SF publication, 1978) is best known for Enemy Mine, the story of two soldiers (one human, one alien, deadly enemies) who crash on an uninhabited planet and must learn to rely on each other to survive. His stories range from the dark (such as Sea of Glass, where an unauthorized birth leads to torture and death for the parents and a harsh orphanage for the child, in a world governed by a predictive supercomputer) to the absurd (for instance, Naked Came the Robot, which includes a hydraulic-aholic robot and Anne Droid, the mechanical love of protagonist Fleming).

A Circus

These are all good stories, but the series that most captured my imagination is Longyear’s Circus World trilogy. O’Hara’s Greater Shows, the last circus on Earth, is driven by declining attendance and finances to seek its fortune in space, travelling from world to world. From the first page, the characters of O’Hara’s circus — Duckfoot, Pony Red, Tyli, Big Sue and many more — draw you into their world, behind the curtains of the greatest show beyond Earth.

And then they crash on an uninhabited world, and must make their own way for decades. Longyear’s explorations of how a circus-based society would develop are even more fascinating than their circus-based stratagems to survive on the road.


 The Worlds of “What If …?”
 Shelley (61)  Piper (21)  Cherryh (41)
 Verne (62)  Norton (22)  Gibson (42)
 Wells (63)  Dick (23)  Clayton (43)
 Williamson (64)  Silverberg (24)  Card (44)
 de Camp (65)  Biggle (25)  Hogan (45)
 Laumer (66)  Wilhelm (26)  Longyear (46)
 Bradbury (11)  Le Guin (31)  Brin (51)
 Heinlein (12)  Niven (32)  McDevitt (52)
 Pohl (13)  Killough (33)  Moon (53)
 Knight (14)  Foster (34)  Bujold (54)
 Schmitz (15)  Pinkwater (35)  Roberts (55)
 Anderson (16)  Robinson (36)  Asaro (56)