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The Flying Sorcerers

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Never (or unknown...)
Science fiction
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Copyright © 1971 by David Gerrold and Larry Niven
Dedicated to the men of NASA;
We understand their problems
I was awakened by Pilg the Crier pounding excitedly on the wall of my nest and crying, "Lant!
May contain spoilers
But I will have to see what I can do for him.
Comments may contain spoilers
A shorter version was first published in 1970 as a serial entitled "The Misspelled Magishun" in If magazine.
Synopsis not on file
Extract (may contain spoilers)
It was close to dawn when we reached the site of the encampment.  The deserted lean-tos and shelters stood bleak and empty in the night, like some fearful city of the dead.  I found myself trembling.

We rode through it wordlessly, finally parking our bicycles on the slope just below the spring.  We could hear it babbling carelessly in the dark.

Taking care to keep as quiet as possible, we edged forward, up the hill.  I held my breath till we topped the rise, then let it out in a whoosh.  Yes, the nest was still there.

I believe I would have cried bitter tears had it been gone.  I am sure it would have killed Shoogar.  The frustration of having an enemy flee from him in such a manner would have been too much.

We crept back to the deserted encampment, there to wait the coming of dawn.  I ached for a chance to sleep, but Shoogar gave me a potion to keep me awake.  To keep him company, he said.  He began laying out his equipment, organizing and sorting.  "If I can only take him by surprise," he muttered.  He paused to oil a metal knife.  "And if only there were some way to draw him away from his nest..."

"That's not needed," I blurted.  "He will probably leave it by himself.  He is testing again.  He said this when I spoke to him.  He wants to test the mountain."

"H'm," said Shoogar.  "This is a bit of good fortune.  I hope that he tests the mountain the same way that he tested the village; for when he tested the village he was gone from his nest almost the entire day."

"What if he doesn't?  What if he returns before the curse is finished?"

"Let us hope he does not."

"Can't you do something?"

Shoogar paused, thought for a moment, then rummaged in his kit.  He produced a small leather pouch of dust and other of herbs.  "Here, go and spread this dust around the outside of his nest.  It is very fine dust; it will float in the air for hours.  If he breathes any of it, it will produce a very strong yearning in him.  He will not return until that yearning is satisfied."

"But, what about me?"

"That's what the herbs are for.  When you finish with the dust you will take half of those herbs and chew them well.  When they turn bitter in your mouth, swallow them, but not until they turn bitter.  Bring the rest of the herbs back to me, so I may chew them.  They will make us both immune to the power of the dust."

I nodded, then crept up the hill and did as I was instructed.  When I brought the two leather pouches back to Shoogar he was just laying out the last of his equipment.  One swollen pouch he handled most carefully.  "Powdered magician's hair," he explained.  I did not blame him for handling it carefully.  He had sacrificed much to produce it; his squat and shaven body trembled with the cold.

Abruptly, a troubled look crossed his face, "I am sure that Purple's power is in some way connected with his nest.  I must get into it somehow.  That is the only part of my curse that I am in doubt about.  I must get into that nest..."

My heart leapt.  "But, I can help you there -" I fairly shouted, then remembered to lower my voice.  "Today - I mean, yesterday (for dawn was fast approaching) - I was able to get close enough to Purple to observe how he worked his doorspell."

Shoogar nearly leapt at me, "Lant, you are a fool!"  Then he thought to lower his voice.  "Why did you not tell me this earlier?" he hissed.

"You did not ask me."

"Well, I am asking you now - how does it work?"


Added: 19-Mar-2024
Last Updated: 12-Apr-2024


Ballantine Books
Mass Market Paperback
In my libraryOrder from amazon.comHas a cover imageBook Edition Cover
Date Issued:
Cir 01-Aug-1971
Mass Market Paperback
Cover Price:
Internal ID:
United States
Vincent Di Fate  - Cover Artist
Shoogar was absolutely livid - a natural state for any self-respecting witch doctor.

But this time he had a reason.  His territory had been invaded by a completely insane shaman who hadn't had the grace to announce himself and didn't even appear to know the common ground rules of the magicians' guild - in fact, the idiot was practicing witchcraft (incompetently, no doubt, but nevertheless practicing it), without having first made his gift to the local witch doctor.

In an absolute fury, Shoogar prepared various ghastly spells - and the villagers trembled...
Book CoverBook Back CoverBook Spine
Notes and Comments:
First Printing: August, 1971



 David Gerrold
Birth: 24 Jan 1944

 Larry Niven
Birth: 30 Apr 1938 Los Angeles, California, USA
Larry Niven is the pen name of Laurence van Cott Niven.  He was born in 1938 in California.  He received a Bachelor's of Science in mathematics from Washburn University in Kansas.  His first publication was "The Coldest Place" for If in 1964.  He has since written many books including those in his Tales of Known Space series which also began in "The Coldest Place".
From Beowulf's Children:

Born April 30, 1938 in Los Angeles, California. Attended California Institute of Technology; flunked out after discovering a book store jammed with used science fiction magazines.  Graduated Washburn University, Kansas, June 1962: BA in Mathematics with a Minor in Psychology, and later received an honorary doctorate in Letters from Washburn. Interests: Science fiction conventions, role playing games, AAAS meetings and other gatherings of people at the cutting edges of science. Comics. Filk singing. Yoga and other approaches to longevity. Moving mankind into space by any means, but particularly by making space endeavors attractive to commercial interests. Several times we’ve hosted The Citizens Advisory Council for a National Space Policy. I grew up with dogs. I live with a cat, and borrow dogs to hike with. I have passing acquaintance with raccoons and ferrets. Associating with nonhumans has certainly gained me insight into alien intelligences.


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  • I try to maintain page numbers for audiobooks even though obviously there aren't any. I do this to keep track of pages read and I try to use the Kindle version page numbers for this.
  • Synopses marked with an asterisk (*) were generated by an AI. There aren't a lot since this is an iffy way to do it - AI seems to make stuff up.
  • When specific publication dates are unknown (ie prefixed with a "Cir"), I try to get the publication date that is closest to the specific printing that I can.
  • When listing chapters, I only list chapters relevant to the story. I will usually leave off Author Notes, Indices, Acknowledgements, etc unless they are relevant to the story or the book is non-fiction.
  • Page numbers on this site are for the end of the main story. I normally do not include appendices, extra material, and other miscellaneous stuff at the end of the book in the page count.

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Presented: 15-Jul-2024 02:54:45

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