Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXVIII (Varley + Cherryh + Cummings + et. al)
August 5, 2013 § 17 Comments
Some fun finds! Perhaps surprisingly, I still haven’t read Clarke’s “The Sentinel” (1951) so I was happy to find it in a collection collated by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest — Spectrum 3 (1963). Even more appealing are the famous Poul Anderson, J. G. Ballard, and Murray Leinster tales in the same volume… The entire Spectrum collection (I-V) brings together some fantastic works.
John Varley is one of the important 70s writers that I still haven’t read. Thus, despite the egregious cover, I snatched his collection of 70s stories, The Persistence of Vision (1978)… I look forward to diving into this one.
Also, C. J. Cherryh was one of my favorite authors as a teen so it’s always nice to come across one of her works I hadn’t devoured yet — in this case, her second novel Brothers of Earth (1976).
1. The Persistence of Vision, John Varley (1978)
(Jim Burns’ cover for the 1979 edition)
From the inside flap of an earlier edition: “These nine stories show the best work of the decade’s most exciting new writer of science fiction. His Quantum novel The Ophiuchi Hotline established the “Eight Worlds” setting of many of these tales — a bizarre future in which genetic engineering, sex changes, and arcane pleasures and trades are commonplace. Take, for instance, the plight of the hero of “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank.” All he wanted was a relaxed weekend as a lion; but a meddlesome kid switched a circuit, and his psyche was trapped inside a computer… And what creative spirit wouldn’t envy the artist in “The Phantom of Kansas” who composes storms?
Most of us feel pretty negatively about skyjackers, but “Air Raid” shows an unexpected rational for it; “Retrograde Summer,” The Black Hole Passes,” and “In the Bowl” are (among other strange things) unique and confusing love stories; “In the Hall of the Martian Kinds” is a new and enthralling twist on the planetary castaways theme; and “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance” shows what a Tin Pan Alley of the centuries to come might be like.
The title story, nominated this year for a Nebula award by the Science Fiction Writers of America, is a haunting treatment of communication beyond our normal senses, an unusually enriching and absorbing work.
Wide-ranging imagination, fascination with human and parahuman potential, and an unsurpassed talent for rendering what the future might feel like characterize John Varley’s stories — and are nowhere better displayed than in this first collection of his short fiction.”
2. Spectrum 3, ed. Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest (1963)
(Uncredited — Lehr? — cover for the 1965 edition)
From the inside flap of an earlier edition: “Strikingly diversified through they are, the eight stories brought together by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest in this their theird anthology of science fiction possess a theme in common. Ideas in one story echo or extend those in another, and their effect, taken together, is to exalt the importance of human beings over machines, of men over robots.
The range is wide, from the Pacific island of Theodore Sturgeon’s extraordinary “Killdocer!” to our own moon in Arthur C. Clarke’s small classic “The Sentinel,” to Jupiter in Poul Anderson’s brilliantly imagined “Call Me Joe,” to the strange and conceivably remote planet Loren Two in Murray Leinster’s “Exploration Team.” There is, as well, great variety in mood. J. G. Ballard’s beautifully written “The Voices of Time” is subtle and puzzling, Mark Rose’s “We Would See a Sign” is horrifying as it is brief. And Alfred Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit” and Peter Philipps’s “Dreams Are Sacred” manage to blend humor, terror, and ribaldry with great ingenuity.
These for novellas and for short stories demonstrate the scope and excitement of science fiction.”
3. Brothers of Earth, C. J. Cherryh (1976)
(Alan Atkinson’s cover for the 1976 edition)
From the inside flap of an earlier edition: “Stranded for life on a remote planet, Kurt knew he had to either adapt quickly to the strange terrain and even stranger inhabitants… or face extinction. But would it be possible for him to learn the ways of this totally alien culture… to entirely adapt his human reactions to their fabulous civilization and complex mores? Kurt didn’t know it yet, but before long he would be completely enveloped by this alien race and become the key figure in their great civil war. And it would take all of Kurt’s brace determination and keen resources just to keep himself alive…”
4. Tama, Princess of Mercury, Ray Cummings (serialized 1931)
(Jerome Podwil’s cover for the 1966 edition)
From the back cover: “Guy Palisse, space-explorer, returned to Earth in the Bolton Flying Cube after ten years on the SUn’s first planet, Mercury. He returned to report that he had warded off war between the two worlds, and to wed before an admiring planet his beautiful fiancee, Tama, winged princess of mercury’s Light Country. But following on Palisse’s orbit was a new wave of terror, as barbarian hordes from Mercury’s Cold Country descended to launch their conquest of Earth. And Palisse’s triumph turned to near-disaster as the frenzied Mercurians plotted to kidnap Tama and bring Earth to ruin.”