Big Book Bounty

When I was in high school, my cousin piqued my interested in a Dutch novel published in 1968 that debuted in 1973 translated into English. Every few months, over the past three years or so, I looked for a copy to buy, but prices are generally exorbitant; the book is out of print.

Where Were You Last Pluterday? by Paul Van Herck is satirical science fiction at its comically cringiest. The absolute absurdity of American politics and cultural currents triggered my curiosity about how-true-to-life had the hilariously nonsensical story become. Something about our reality of the absurd was once science fiction. I had to know: How prescient is the 50-year-old-plus novel?

Current copies available on Amazon are among the lowest prices that I have seen in many months: $77.97 (used, good); $99.99 (used, acceptable). I saw some selling in the $200-range, when searching at end of May. I also looked on eBay, where the few copies topped 45 bucks or more (although today one is available discounted to $16).

Unexpectedly, almost two weeks ago, Where Were You Last Pluterday? turned up in an eBay auction with a collection of vintage sci-fi paperbacks—and from my glory days of reading them: 1970s and 80s. I placed a maximum bid of $20 and won on June 1, 2024: $12.59, plus shipping. I am not a collector. I didn’t buy the Van Herck novel to resell for profit. I bought it to read, and there are 14 other classics as big bonus.

The package arrived today; heavier than I would expect for paperbacks: 2.72 kg (6 pounds). The books were wrapped in cellophane, and their condition stunned. My actual feedback, left at eBay explains:

I am at a loss to express how shockingly good was the overall experience—from shipping speed to, most importantly, condition of the items. I purchased a lot of 15 paperbacks, expecting them to be well-worn. Instead, the majority look new, or would if they didn’t have some of the yellowing expected of decades-old books. Does the seller have access to a time machine? Because I can’t come up with another explanation for these books; the majority look like they were never read. Unbelievable.

Except for the yellowing, Where Were You Last Pluterday? looks new, unread. Please, someone explain that to me. Funny aside: Early on in the novel, science fiction is banned, essentially ending main character Sam’s career. He goes to a local sci-fi bar, where he commiserates with John Wyndham, who is a real life writer. One of his books, The Midwich Cuckoos, is among the lot I bought. I am more familiar with Day of the Triffids, which is an all-time favorite and one of the best dystopian dramas ever.

Okay, it’s spoiler time. If you ever plan to read Van Herck’s farcical tale, skip this paragraph. You’ve been warned. Pluterday is an extra day of the week added by the rich elite. I will reveal nothing else.

Let’s talk Featured Image captured using Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, 13mm (film equivalent); 6:10 p.m. PDT. Composed as shot; not edited.