A Little Knowledge


In the domed city of Atlanta, after the breakup of the United States, a young writer named Julian Cawthorn is in trouble.  Because he insulted the daughter of a public official, Cawthorn is out of work, and virtually unemployable.  He begs a temporary job on the city newspaper and finds himself assigned to cover the first public appearance of the alien Cygnusians, travelers from outer space who have been living in seclusion in Atlanta while visiting Earth.

A Christian revivalist dictatorship rules Atlanta: church services are as much social as they are religious events.  When one of the aliens chooses to appear at a church service, Julian watches as the first alien from space stands up and is "saved."  The alien's voluntary salvation is taken as a sign that the state religion is indeed the one true religion, and minority groups, previously tolerated, are attacked by gangs, leaving Atlanta in turmoil.

The service is a turning point in Julian's life.  He is hired by Fiona Bitler, hostess to and protector of the aliens; at her invitation he goes to work in the secret alien enclave.
[From the flyleaf of the Berkley/Putnam edition]

"Do you like science fiction?"
"No, my husband writes it."
Jeri, this book is for you. . . .

A Little Knowledge, First Edition / Dean Ellis New York: Berkley/Putnam
[ISBN 399-11943-4] [hc] ($8.95),
May 1977; 293 pp.
[cover: Dean Ellis]
A Little Knowledge, First Paperback Edition / Dean Ellis New York: Berkley [First Printing]
[ISBN 0-425-03671-5] [pb] ($1.50),
Mar 1978; 209 pp.
[cover: Dean Ellis]
A Little Knowledge, First Paperback Edition, 2nd Printing / Dean Ellis New York: Berkley [Second Printing]
[ISBN 0-425-04305-3] [pb] ($1.75),
Jan 1979; 209 pp.
[cover: Dean Ellis]
Die Cygnus Delegation, 1st German Edition / Karel Thole [as Die Cygnus-Delegation]
[German translation by Walter Brumm]

Munich: Heyne (#3743)
[ISBN: 3-453-30646-5] [pb] (DM 5.80),
1980; 236 pp.
[cover: Karel Thole]

A Little Knowledge, First Japanese Edition / K. G. Yanase [as (Sasayaka na Eichi)]
[Japanese translation by Yasuko Tomoeda]

Tokyo: Hayakawa Books (SF719)
[ISBN 4-15-010719-X] [pb] (¥520),
Jun 1987; 379 pp.
[cover: K. G. Yanase]

A Little Knowledge, Gateway Ebook Edition London: Gateway/Orion
[ISBN 978-0-575-12294-9] [ebook] (2.99),
Jul 2013
The City and the Cygnets, First Edition [included in The City and the Cygnets]

Bonney Lake WA: Kudzu Planet Productions / Fairwood Press
[ISBN 978-1-933846-78-1] [trade paperback] ($19.99); [ebook] ($5.99)
Aug 2019; pp. 228 - 397
[cover: Amit Dutta]


A Little Knowledge and Catacomb Years form the Urban Nucleus of Atlanta [UrNu] sequence.  The entire sequence is collected in The City and the Cygnets. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire and Under Heaven's Bridge are tangential to this series.

Compiled by Michael H. Hutchins