May 19, 2013 § 43 Comments
Here are my seven favorite metafictional science fiction novels. By metafiction I’m referring to devices such as breaking the fourth wall (characters addressing the audience), the author addressing the reader, a story about a writer writing a story, a story containing another work of fiction within it, a work where the narrator reveals himself or herself as the author of the story, narrative footnotes, etc….
I’d love to hear your favorites (they don’t have to be novels)!
Obviously, these types of experimental works only appeal to some readers (especially fans of the sci-fi New Wave movement of the late 60s and early 70s) but I personally love seeing experimentation in an often — dare I say — stylistically stale genre. Often, the metafictional aspects do not prevent authors from deploying traditional narratives.
My top seven (and an honorable mention):
1. Beyond Apollo, Brian N. Malzberg (1972) (REVIEW) — what you read is most likely the novel written by the main character. However, he’s most likely insane so attempting to get AT the true nature of his voyage to Venus is purposefully layered… Complicating the matter is how unreliable of a narrator he is and the fact that he’s tells many versions of the same story. Malzberg pokes fun at pulp science fiction throughout — which he clearly enjoyed as a child.
2. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (1968) — the metafictional aspects are rather hidden in this New Wave masterpiece (my single favorite sci-fi novel). Brunner’s vast (in scope and depth) mosaic of invented book fragments, advertising jingles, and narrative portions are interspersed with news articles taken from his own day — including the school shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. Of course, as readers we’re geared to imagining that everything « Read the rest of this entry »
May 13, 2013 § 22 Comments
More from my local dirt cheap book store…
By far most interested in William Tenn’s lone novel (he was predominately a short story writer) Of Men and Monsters (1968) — humans living in the walls, like mice, in the homes of the alien invaders of Earth. Geston’s novelette The Day Star (1972) should be a fast and fun read — hopefully despite the comment by previous owner of the book who inscribed ”TEDIOUS” on the back cover with a ballpoint pen…
Some fun covers.
1. Hellstrom’s Hive, Frank Herbert (1972)
(R. Shore’s cover for the 1975 edition)
Excerpt from the inside flap of the first edition hardback: “In the summer of 1971, Doctor Nils Hellstrom appeared in his own film production, The Hellstrom Chronicle. The motion picture « Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2013 § 27 Comments
A new bookstore in my hometown! Great results! Dirt cheap (between 1-2 $ a book)! Happy me!
I finally have a copy of Hal Clement’s hard science fiction masterpiece, Mission of Gravity (1953)… And a collection of William Tenn’s short stories with a downright gorgeous Powers cover — Tenn is supposedly up there with Sheckley in the satirical pantheon of the 50s… Among others…
Has anyone read Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Live (1968)? I’ve never heard of it before but the Lehr cover was too amazing to pass up…
1. The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956)
(Robert Powers’ cover for the 1956 edition)
From the inside flap: “WIT: an extra-terrestrial sells pornographic literature « Read the rest of this entry »
April 23, 2013 § 16 Comments
A strange conglomeration of novels….
If there’s any era I’m lacking knowledge in it’s late 20s-early 40s (well, I’ve read some Van Vogt + Edgar Rice Burroughs) pulp science fiction — so I decided to brush up on some of the greats. With that in mind I acquired five Ray Cummings novels (the rest will be in a later acquisition post) and Van Vogt’s Slan (1940)….. I don’t have high hopes. But now I own my first Alex Schomburg cover!
I generally do not accept review copies due to the fact that most offers are for self-published works rather than republished novels from the period I’m most familiar with (and prefer to read) — 1950-1985. So, when New York Review of Books offered me a copy of Kingsley Amis’ well-known alt-history/sci-fi (depending on whose definition you’re reading) novel The Alteration (1976) I happily agreed….
1. The Exile of Time, Ray Cummings (magazine publication 1931)
(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the 1964 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
April 15, 2013 § 13 Comments
I loved James E. Gunn’s The Joy Makers (1961) and found the collection Station in Space (1958) quite solid… Thus, I snatched up a lot of Gunn’s fix-up novels and short story collections from ebay…. It is often difficult to distinguish Gunn’s short story collections from his novels due to the fact that his favorite form tended to be the novella and novelette — after their original magazine publications they were combined into “proper novels” or existing novellas, for example ‘The Listeners’ (1968), were expanded to novel length.
Regardless, I cannot wait to read these. Which ones to do you recommend?
And some intriguing covers….
1. The Burning, James Gunn (1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1972 edition)
From the inside flap: “Death to the scientists! The cry for blood vengeance went up all over the « Read the rest of this entry »
April 1, 2013 § 9 Comments
What a group of novels! Four novels by the highly underrated and underread 1960s/early 70s author Daniel F. Galouye — the only novel of his I’m missing is The Infinite Man (1973)… I’ve previously read his most famous work Dark Universe (1961) — here’s my review (be warned, one of my first reviews on the site, I’d like to think that I’ve improved) – but copies tend to go for around $10+ online so I didn’t own a copy until I stumbled on a great lot of his novels on ebay for a few bucks…
Just read the back covers quotes (below). They all sound disturbing and absolutely fantastic. Rainer Werner Fassbinder — yes, you read that correctly — even made a German language miniseries adaptation, Welt Am Draht (1973) (World on a Wire), of Simulacron-3 (1964). Criterion just released a DVD…. And of course, Josef Rusnak’s more famous film The Thirteenth Floor (1999) was a lose adaptation of the same novel.
Also, I spent the most I’ve ever spend on a paperback for David R. Bunch’s near masterpiece, Moderan (1971). I finished the novel last week (interlibrary loan) and had to find a copy… They are usually $18 + online but again, found a copy on ebay and made an offer. I’ll have a review of Moderan up in a few days, I promise!
1. Lords of the Psychon, Daniel F. Galouye (1963)
(Uncredited cover « Read the rest of this entry »
March 18, 2013 § 17 Comments
An overpopulation themed novel (at least for part) by Gordon R. Dickson….
A supposedly underrated/dark novel by Brian M. Stableford (according to some, one of his best)…
An early novel in Keith Laumer’s famous Retief sequence…
And a fun juvenile by Lester del Rey….
1. The Outposter, Gordon R. Dickson (1971)
(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1976 edition)
From the back cover: “Destination: Oblivion. The Lottery played no favorites — if a person’s number came up, he joined the rest of the losers marked for exile from the overcrowded « Read the rest of this entry »
March 1, 2013 § 24 Comments
I love the idea of a community of science fiction reviewers — so I’ve put together a list of a handful of book review blogs focused on classic/slightly more esoteric science fiction. Obviously there are plenty of great blogs I’ve omitted that have reviews of new releases or only occasional vintage science fiction…. Or, blogs that refrain from reviews of vintage science fiction unless participating in certain reading challenges….
Please visit them, comment on their reviews, and browse through their back catalogues.
1] Speculiction….: An under visited /commented on blog with quality book reviews of classic science fiction — however, the reviewer, Jesse, is limited by the lack of older science fiction available to him in Poland. I especially enjoyed his reviews of Ballard’s “beautifully strange enigma” that is The Crystal World (1966) and of course, my favorite science fiction novel of all time, John Brunner’s magisterial Stand on Zanzibar (1968). An index of his reviews can be found here. He also has a good mix of newer science fiction reviews as well.
February 13, 2013 § 11 Comments
An eclectic grab bag of books… The last remaining gifts from 2thD… And a few from bookstores I’ve visited over the past few months. Two are complete mysteries — Bamber’s The Sea is Boiling Hot (1971) and Rossiter’s Tetrasomy Two (1974) — both author’s only published sci-fi novel. I don’t have high hopes — although, the premise of the former is fantastic — domed cities and over pollution!
My second collection of Tiptree shorts — was impressed with a handful of stories in her most famous collection Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973). I find her work hit or miss… Unfortunately, there are some books that I can never convince myself to review. Although published in the 80s, Byte Beautiful (1985) contains mostly 70s stories so it is firmly within my era….
And Shaw, well, Shaw is Shaw — utterly average but always (at least so far) suprisingly satisfying…
1. The Sea is Boiling Hot, George Bamber (1971) (MY REVIEW)
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the « Read the rest of this entry »