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Authors: Theodore Sturgeon

The Nail and the Oracle

BOOK: The Nail and the Oracle
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Theodore Sturgeon circa 1962.

Copyright © 2007 by the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust. Previously published materials © 1961, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971 by Theodore Sturgeon and the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust, except “Runesmith,” which is copyright © 1970 by Harlan Ellison and Theodore Sturgeon, and “Ride In, Ride Out,” which is copyright © 1973 by Don Ward and Theodore Sturgeon and the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust. Foreword © 2007 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. Harlan Ellison is a registered trademark of the Kilimanjaro Corporation. All rights reserved. No portion of this book, except for brief review, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the written permission of the publisher. For information contact North Atlantic Books.

Published by
North Atlantic Books
P.O. Box 12327
Berkeley, California 94712

Cover photo collage design by Paula Morrison

The Nail and the Oracle
is sponsored by the Society for the Study of Native Arts and Sciences, a nonprofit educational corporation whose goals are to develop an educational and cross-cultural perspective linking various scientific, social, and artistic fields; to nurture a holistic view of arts, sciences, humanities, and healing; and to publish and distribute literature on the relationship of mind, body, and nature.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:
Sturgeon, Theodore.
   The nail and the oracle / by Theodore Sturgeon; edited by Paul Williams; foreword by Harlan Ellison.
      p. cm.— (The complete stories of Theodore Sturgeon; v. 11)
  Summary: “The eleventh volume of the series by science-fiction author Theodore Sturgeon contains stories written between 1960 and 1969, including “How To Forget Baseball,” a hitherto unanthologized short story”—Provided by publisher. Includes bibliographical references.
  eISBN: 978-1-58394-755-5
  1. Science fiction, American. I. Williams, Paul, 1948– II. Title.
  PS3569.T875 A6 2006 vol. 11
  813’.54—dc22

2007000769

v3.1

EDITOR

S NOTE

T
HEODORE
H
AMILTON
S
TURGEON
was born February 26, 1918, and died May 8, 1985. This is the eleventh in a series of volumes that will collect all of his short fiction. The volumes and the stories within the volumes are organized chronologically by order of composition (insofar as it can be determined). This eleventh volume contains stories written between 1960 and 1969. “
How to Forget Baseball
,” a story about a thrilling, horrifying future sport called Quoit, is anthologized here for the first time. A story co-authored with Harlan Ellison, “Runesmith,” is also included.

Preparation of each of these volumes would not be possible without the hard work and invaluable participation of Noël Sturgeon, Debbie Notkin, and our publishers, Lindy Hough and Richard Grossinger. I would also like to thank, for their significant assistance with this volume, Harlan Ellison, Tina Krauss, Marc Zicree, Hart Sturgeon-Reed, Elizabeth Kennedy, Shannon Kelly, Eric Weeks, Chris Lotts at Ralph Vicinanza, Ltd., Cindy Lee Berryhill, T.V. Reed, and all of you who have expressed your interest and support. The Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust can be accessed at
http://www.theodoresturgeontrust.com/
.

BOOKS BY THEODORE STURGEON

Without Sorcery
(
1948
)

The Dreaming Jewels
[aka
The Synthetic Man]
(
1950
)

More Than Human
(
1953
)

E Pluribus Unicorn
(
1953
)

Caviar
(
1955
)

A Way Home
(
1955
)

The King and Four Queens
(
1956
)

I, Libertine
(
1956
)

A Touch of Strange
(
1958
)

The Cosmic Rape
[aka
To Marry
Medusa](
1958
)

Aliens 4
(
1959
)

Venus Plus X
(
1960
)

Beyond
(
1960
)

Some of Your Blood
(
1961
)

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
(
1961
)

The Player on the Other Side
(
1963
)

Sturgeon in Orbit
(
1964
)

Starshine
(
1966
)

The Rare Breed
(
1966
)

Sturgeon Is Alive and Well …
(
1971
)

The Worlds of Theodore

Sturgeon
(
1972
)

Sturgeon’s West
(with Don Ward) (
1973
)

Case and the Dreamer
(
1974
)

Visions and Venturers
(
1978
)

Maturity
(
1979
)

The Stars Are the Styx
(
1979
)

The Golden Helix
(
1979
)

Alien Cargo
(
1984
)

Godbody
(
1986
)

A Touch of Sturgeon
(
1987
)

The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff
(
1989
)

Argyll
(
1993
)

Star Trek, The Joy Machine
(with James Gunn) (
1996
)

THE COMPLETE STORIES SERIES

1.
The Ultimate Egoist
(
1994
)

2.
Microcosmic God
(
1995
)

3.
Killdozer!
(
1996
)

4.
Thunder and Roses
(
1997
)

5.
The Perfect Host
(
1998
)

6.
Baby Is Three
(
1999
)

7.
A Saucer of Loneliness
(
2000
)

8.
Bright Segment
(
2002
)

9.
And Now the News …
(
2003
)

10.
The Man Who Lost the Sea
(
2005
)

11.
The Nail and the Oracle
(
2007
)

12.
Slow Sculpture
(
2009
)

13.
Case and the Dreamer
(
2010
)

CONTENTS

Foreword:
Abiding with Sturgeon: Mistral in the Bijou
by Harlan Ellison
®

Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison, San Francisco Civic Auditorium, 12 February 1977. Photo by Clay Geerdes.

FOREWORD
Abiding with Sturgeon: Mistral in the Bijou

By Harlan Ellison

It is unlikely that I could have worshipped him more, the day he came to live with me, had his knock on my door been accompanied by thunder and roses. Let us get this clear between us, right from the git-go: I admired Ted Sturgeon more than words can codify. Not just the writing, but much of the man. Not just the art and craft, but the flawed weird duck who schlepped them.

We both smoked pipes, but Ted tamped his bowl full of a
grape
-flavored tobacco so sweetly and sickly redolent, it could stun a police dog. I was a little over thirty-five years old when Sturgeon came to live with me. Ted was just fluttering his wings around age fifty.

Herewith, the (by actual count) eleventh time I have started to write this recondite introduction to Volume XI of the North Atlantic Books collected
oeuvre
of the iconic H. Hunter Theodore Waldo Sturgeon, simply a Great Writer of Our Time. In preparation for this day—one I had foolishly hoped would never come—I have worried this exercise as would a pit bull with an intruder. But now it’s here, and now I have dawdled and postponed and evaded to the point where I got put in the hospital for a couple of days. Evaded? As would the helot duck the knout! Ten times before I sat down here, put my two typing fingers on the keyboard of the stout Olympia manual office machine (that Ted sometimes usurped when he was here), and ten times I have said awfuckit and torn out the paper. Ten times. Now eleven. And everyone is screaming at me for my seemingly dilatory behavior.

And here’s the flat of it, friends.

And Ted would understand.

Most of what I know about Ted Sturgeon, I cannot tell you.

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