The Undesired Princess
The Undesired Princess
Dust-jacket for The Undesired Princess
Author(s) L. Sprague deCamp Cover artist Crozetti Country United States Language English Genre(s) Fantasy short stories Publisher Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. Publication date 1951 Media type Print (Hardback) Pages 248 pp ISBN NA
The Undesired Princess is a 51,000 word fantasy novella written by L. Sprague de Camp. It was first published in the fantasy magazine Unknown Worlds for February, 1942. It was published in book form by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in 1951. The book version also includes the 10,000 word fantasy short story "Mr. Arson", first published in Unknown for December, 1941. The title story was also published in paperback by Baen Books in 1990 together with David Drake's story The Enchanted Bunny, under the combined title The Undesired Princess & the Enchanted Bunny.
The first stand-alone edition of the title story was published as an E-book by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form. The product description indicates that the e-edition is based on the Baen publication, and includes the Drake story in addition to the title story; however, the Drake story is not in fact included.
The Undesired Princess
The title story concerns Rollin Hobart, a man transported to another plane whose natural laws are those of Aristotelian logic; that is, everything is either one thing or another, with nothing in between and no gray areas. Similarly, everything is limited in color and, with the exception of the inhabitants, in shape: leaves are blue or yellow and are flat, regular polygons in shape; the title character has paper-white skin and lips of primary color red. He must learn to use and master the inflexible laws of this universe in order to survive and ultimately return home. In the course of his adventures he picks up a royal local lady-love and rises to become the master of the plane, but elects to abandon both to return to his mundane life. The lady, however, has her own ideas about that...
The second story features Carl Grinnig, who accidentally conjures up a Saldine or fire-elemental while taking a correspondence course on Nigromancy. The Saldine, Mr. Arson, attempts to unleash his fellow Saldines on the human world, only to find the situation complicated by humanity itself. This story is enlivened by the author's own experience with correspondence schools.
Critical response to the book has been largely favorable. At the time of its publication P. Schuyler Miller commented that "Hobart's adventures ... have the utterly reasonable brand of unreasonableness which most [de Camp] readers know and relish," and called the second story as "a bonus," concluding "[i]f you like humor-in-fantasy, who can afford to miss a new de Camp?" Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas called it one "of the best novels from 'Unknown,' and stated it had "that splendid absurd rigorousness which distinguishes such other vintage de Camp items as the Harold Shea series." Groff Conklin, on the other hand, felt the book suffered by comparison to Rogue Queen, another de Camp novel published the same year, which he found much more impressive. He cited the unevenness in quality he perceived between the two books as an example of "why de Camp has puzzled and exasperated his fans." He noted that "[e]verything in the [titular] tale has [a] haywire quality of being or not being, plus a lot of pleasant de Campish plotcident and nonsense along with it." Summing up his opinion of the two stories in the book, he wrote that "[b]oth these fantasies are clever, glib, and wholly unimportant."
In more recent assessments, Everett F. Bleiler reported that The Undesired Princess "is amusing and entertaining, for the first half of the story." Steven Silver, commenting on the Baen edition, wrote that "[t]he plot of The Undesired Princess is simple, almost simplistic. Even the philosophy, as presented, is rather basic. However, the ideas behind that philosophy, which de Camp explains well enough for the reader to understand what de Camp is trying to do and follow their own conclusions regarding how it should be interpreted, is quite complex." Noting that the story "covers many of the themes which de Camp & Fletcher Pratt explored in the 'Compleat Enchanter' series," and that "these topics are not covered as well or as completely in The Undesired Princess," he concludes that "the book is still enjoyable and a worthwhile read."
- ^ Orion Publishing Group's L. Sprague de Camp webpage
- ^ Amazon.com entry for e-book edition
- ^ Miller, P. Schuyler. "The Reference Library," Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1951, pp.141-142.
- ^ Boucher, Anthony, and McComas, J. Francis. "Recommended Reading," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October, 1951, p. 59.
- ^ Conklin, Groff. "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf," Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1951, p.88.
- ^ E. F. Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction, Kent State University Press, 1983, p.140
- ^ Silver, Steven H. "Steven Silver's Reviews," The SF Site: The Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy, December 1997.
- Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd.. p. 271.
- Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. pp. 100–101.
- "The Undesired Princess" - a book review by Steven H. Silver
Works by L. Sprague de Camp Viagens InterplanetariasKrishnaKukulkanOtherCollections Harold Shea (with Fletcher Pratt and others)de Camp/
"Professor Harold and the Trustees" (1992) · "Sir Harold and the Monkey King" (1992) · "Knight and the Enemy" (1992) · "Arms and the Enchanter" (1992) · "Enchanter Kiev" (1995) · "Sir Harold and the Hindu King" (1995) · "Harold Shakespeare" (1995) · "Return to Xanadu" (2005)Collections
Pusadian seriesStoriesCollections Novarian seriesStoriesCollections
The Reluctant King (1985)
The Incorporated KnightNovels Conan series (with Robert E. Howard and others)NovelsShort stories
"Black Sphinx of Nebthu" (1973) · "The Treasure of Tranicos" (1953) · "Black Tears" (1968) · "The Blood-Stained God" (1955) · "The Castle of Terror" (1969) · "The City of Skulls" (1967) · "The Curse of the Monolith" (1968) · "Drums of Tombalku" (1966) · The Flame Knife (1955/81) · "The Frost Giant's Daughter" Conan (1953) · "The Gem in the Tower" (1978) · "The God in the Bowl" (1952) · "The Hall of the Dead" (1967) · "Hawks Over Shem" (1955) · "The Ivory Goddess" (1978) · "The Lair of the Ice Worm" (1969) · "Legions of the Dead" (1978) · "Moon of Blood" (1978) · "The People of the Summit" (1970/78) · "Red Moon of Zembabwei" (1974) · "The Road of the Eagles" (1955) · "Shadows in the Dark" (1978) · "Shadows in the Skull" (1975) · "The Snout in the Dark" (1969) · "The Star of Khorala" (1978) · "The Thing in the Crypt" (1967) · "The Witch of the Mists" (1972) · "Wolves Beyond the Border" (1967)Collections
Conan (1967) · The Conan Chronicles (1989) · The Conan Chronicles 2 (1990) · Conan of Aquilonia (1977) · Conan of Cimmeria (1969) · Conan the Adventurer (1966) · Conan the Avenger (1968) · Conan the Freebooter (1968) · Conan the Swordsman (1978) · Conan the Usurper (1967) · Conan the Wanderer (1968) · Sagas of Conan (2004) · Tales of Conan (1955) · The Treasure of Tranicos (1980)
Other speculative fictionNovelsShort stories
"Aristotle and the Gun" (1958) · "A Gun for Dinosaur" (1956) · "Judgment Day" (1955) · "The Wheels of If" (1940)Collections
Aristotle and the Gun (2002) · The Best of L. Sprague de Camp (1978) · Divide and Rule (1948) · Footprints on Sand (1981) · A Gun for Dinsaur (1963) · The Purple Pterodactyls (1980) · The Reluctant Shaman (1970) · Rivers of Time (1993) · Scribblings (1972) · Sprague de Camp's New Anthology (1953) · Tales from Gavagan's Bar (1953/78) · The Undesired Princess (1951) · The Virgin & the Wheels (1976) · The Wheels of If (1948) · Years in the Making (2005)
Historical fictionNovels Fiction editedAnthologiesSingle author Nonfiction editedMulti-authorSingle author
To Quebec and the Stars (1976)
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