Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXXV (Fowler + Bishop + Brunner + Blish)
January 9, 2014 § 19 Comments
Love Brunner, want his short stories, enough said….
Also, I have a love hate relationship with Blish (love his “hard” SF and dislike his juveniles of which he wrote a many and often in a “hard” SF series)—The Frozen Year (1957) supposedly is his attempt at a “realistic” SF novel. I’ll just have to see… I feel weirdly compelled to read it.
As for the Karen Joy Fowler collection—yes, she wrote in the 80s!—the book sorters at the Half Price Books failed to realized that it was a signed copy! So for a mere dollar I now have only my second signed SF work after D. G. Compton’s Scudder’s Game (1988). As people have probably realized, I completely eschew conventions and have little connection with fandom and thus do not go out of my way to procure signed editions…
1. No Future in It, John Brunner (1962)
(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition)
From the back cover of a later edition: “What happens when a time-traveler from the future bumps into a medieval wizard? What do you do when you’re building a satellite in outer space and the corpse of a murdered man keeps getting in your way? How does a lone man re-seed a dead Earth with human life? These and other fascinating questions are answered in this challenging and immensely readable book by a gifted young British writers of science fiction and fantasy.”
2. The Frozen Year (variant title: Fallen Star), James Blish (1957)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1957 edition)
From the back cover: “‘I’m Julian Cole. I’m a science writer. I’ve read about every theory of history you can name, and only one makes sense; the one which assumes that every historical event is aimed personally at my very own head.’ Sounds paranoid, doesn’t it? But wait. Supposed you had the job given to Julian Cole: official historian to a grandstand Arctic explorer who sets off on a disastrously ridiculous expedition to the far North. Suppose you had to cope with the explorer’s highly pneumatic wife and an assortment of characters one of whom is either a Martian or insane? And, to cap it all, suppose you held in your hands proof of the biggest science story of the century—and nobody would believe you? Wouldn’t you feel a little like Julian Cole?”
3. Artificial Things, Karen Joy Fowler (1986)
(Tito Salomoni’s cover for the 1986 edition)
From the inside flap: “‘The Lake Was Filled with Artificial Things’—a moving story of a woman’s attempt to remake her past. ’The War of the Roses’—a lyrical tale of courage and resistance in a fantastic future. ’The View From Venus’—a tongue-in-cheek study of 20th-century mating habits from an alien perspective. ’The Dragon’s Dead’—the powerful account of a magical meeting between a young tomboy and an ancient witch. In all, thirteen stunning tales that demonstrate Karen Joy Fowler’s extraordinary storytelling gifts and confirm her place as one of America’s finest new writers.”
4. Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)
(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1979 edition)
From the inside flap: “Michael Bishop, one of the most important science fiction authors of the 1970′s has drawn a single cohesive tale from his famous Future History of Atlanta in the 21st century. The Future History is one of the unique contributions of the SF field—a chronicle of events over a long period of future time, portraying the possibilities of human society, human technology, and the dreams and aspirations of humanity in a variety of future settings all of which cohere to a central “line of history.” Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, James Blish, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov are among the SF writers who have used this form with stunning and important effect. Now Michael Bishop joins these distinguished authors with his Urban Nucleus series, one of the major SF events of the decade. Complete with a future history chard and linking background material on the continuing progress of humanity in the Urban Nucleus of Atlanta, CATACOMB YEARS is the masterwork of a major talent in Science Fiction.
In the year 2004, after the collapse of the USA, the Domed City of Atlanta forms an Urban Nucleus that is part of the Urban federation of city-states which is trying to preserve civilization. But the government, once relatively benign, is sliding into dictatorship. Bizarre cults and sects develop and decay as people respond to the new realities around them. The Septigamoklans, an experiment in group living and marriage among the aged, are disbanded by the dictator. The Glissadors, young people employed as messengers who meet for dance and exercise, are exterminated. Religious fervor becomes intense, and even alien visitors from the stars convert to “Ortho-urban” Christianity. A rich and detailed panoramic view of the historical process in action, CATACOMB YEARS leads inevitably to the triumphant renaissance of humankind in the new south.”