All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series

Long-Tomorrow dune

The Gollancz Masterwork series [list] ranges from famous novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to lesser known short story collections such as The Caltraps of Time (1968) by David I. Masson.  The Masterwork series has the power to introduce readers to the canonical “best of SF” works as well works that should be considered classics that often have not seen print for decades.  Although I have some qualms about certain inclusions, I was genuinely blown away that they recently chose one of my favorite novels The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) by D. G. Compton —an underread and unjustly forgotten author.

Over the course of the next week or so a handful of my fellow SF bloggers (most of whom have a focus on earlier SF) will release lists on their sites of SF they would like to see featured by Gollancz.  I have not given them any guidelines so the lists should be varied and hopefully will generate some discussion.  I highly recommend you head over to their sites (I will post the links as they come in) and comment.

Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).

My guidelines for inclusion

1. My frequent readers know that I prefer (passionately) SF from the 50s-70s Continue reading Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series

Book Review: Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1969 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Joanna Russ’ first published novel Picnic on Paradise (1968) delightfully subverts traditional SF pulp adventure tropes.  Although not as finely wrought as The Female Man (1975), And Chaos Died (1970), or her masterpiece We Who Are About To… (1976), Picnic is worthwhile for all fans of feminist SF and the more radical visions of the 60s.

Unfortunately, the metafictional implications/literary possibilities of the Alyx sequence Continue reading Book Review: Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)

Book Review: Nebula Award Stories Six, ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971)

(Wilson McLean’s cover for the 1972 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

1970 was a wonderful year for short SF.  Nebula Award Stories Six ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971) contains a selection Nebula-nominated and winning works from the three short fiction award categories: three novelettes, three short stories, and one novella.  The novelette and novella winners are included.  No short story award was given out although Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” (1970) deserved to win.  I apologize in advance, I hold no love for sword-and-fantasy—the great appeal that Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar” (1970) conjures for readers is lost on me.

I was also impressed by the two “second tier” authors in the collection: Harry Harrison and Keith Laumer.  Both of their efforts were mature and evocative.  Although, Joanna Russ’ “The Second Inquisition” (1970) blows them out of Continue reading Book Review: Nebula Award Stories Six, ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXX (Harness + Dickson + Haldeman + Brunner)

An intriguing range of SF novels…  A few thrift store pickups and a few sent by my father.  Excited about the John Haldeman fix-up novel All My Sins Remembered (1977).  Won’t read the Brunner for a long long time—but I’m a Brunner completists so I buy his books on sight if I don’t have a copy.

Still haven’t read anything by Charles L. Harness….  Not sure about this 80s rewrite of his late 40s serialized novel.  We shall see.

Thoughts?

1. All My Sins Remembered, John Haldeman (1977)

(Paul Stinson’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXX (Harness + Dickson + Haldeman + Brunner)

Book Review: Homeward and Beyond, Poul Anderson (1975)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

2.5/5 (Collated rating: Bad)

Homeward and Beyond (1975) is comprised of four novelettes, four short stories, and one novella.   According to an article I read recently on the Wall Street Journal, Poul Anderson was one of only five authors in the 50s that made enough writing SF without needing a day job—and he was the only one who made a “good living” (he made more money than Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, etc).  This incredible production did not always yield quality.  Homeward and Beyond is by far one of the poorer Anderson collections I’ve encountered—on the level of  The Horn of Time (1968) and nowhere close to Time and Stars (1964)—despite the presence of his Hugo/Nebula-winning novelette “Goat Song” (1972).

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis (*some spoilers*)

“Wings of Victory” [Technic History] (1972) 2/5 (Bad) serves as the first contact story between human Continue reading Book Review: Homeward and Beyond, Poul Anderson (1975)

Book Review: Eye Among the Blind, Robert Holdstock (1976)

(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Robert Holdstock’s first science fiction novel, the anthropologically inclined Eye Among the Blind (1976), contains kernels of his later genius.  His abilities, according to critics such as John Clute, are fully manifested in works such as his fantasy novel Mythago Wood (1984).

At first glance Eye Among the Blind has the trappings of intellectually inclined “heavy” anthropological SF in the vein of Ursula Le Guin and Michael Bishop.  It tackles themes such as colonization, alien collaboration with the colonizers, aliens who do not choose to engage with the colonizers, humans who choose to live among the aliens, humans who study the aliens but are reluctant to appreciate (or take seriously) those whom they study, Continue reading Book Review: Eye Among the Blind, Robert Holdstock (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)

New books!  At one point in time I had a copy of Frank Herbert’s great Destination: Void (1966).  However, it wasn’t the original 1966 version but a rewrite from the late 70s.  Generally I prefer reading the first published versions (unless they were serialized in magazines) so I was desperate to get my hands on a copy.

More Sladek!   The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) is his best known novel.  SF aficionados of the 60s/70s often describe Saldek as one of the unsung comedic/satirical greats.  I’ve read his first novel a while back, The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968) and had a lukewarm reaction.   I will definitely pick up The Müller-Fokker Effect before the year is out.

Margaret St. Clair’s Sign of the Labrys (1963) has proved to be one of the worst books I’ve read this year.  But, I will give her short stories, the the collection Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974). another chance.

2theD at PotPourri of Science Fiction Literature send me Douglas R. Mason’s The Resurrection of Roger Diment (1972) a while back.  Mason’s The Eight Against Utopia (1966) was downright dismal so I’m not sure when I’ll get to this one.

Thoughts?

1. Destination: Void, Frank Herbert (1966)

(Uncredited—looks somewhat like Di Fate?—cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)