Book Review: The Monadic Universe, George Zebrowski (1977)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1977 edition)

2.75/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Average)

A while back I picked up a copy of George Zebrowski’s The Monadic Universe (1977) for my friend 2theD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature to supplement his suitcase of SF books he buys every year before heading back to Thailand.  Before I sent it to him I read a single story “The History Machine” (1972) and was intrigued enough to buy the collection for myself.

Bluntly put Zebrowski’s post-apocalyptical, polluted, environment going to hell futures are dull and resort to random violence, sinister women characters, and lengthy information dumps.  The stories containing metaphysical thought-experiments are slightly more successful although the lack of articulate prose weakens their power.  I only recommend three Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXV (Moorcock + Brown + Rosel George Brown + Frederic Brown + Anthology)

A varied lot for sure…

One of the more intriguing is an anthology of nuclear themed SF containing stories by Sturgeon, Merril, Ward Moore, Ellison, Wilhelm, Spinrad, etc.

A Michael Moorcock novel An Alien Heat (1972)—I’ve had little luck with his SF in the past so hopefully this bucks the trend.

A fun 50s vision by Frederic Brown…

And an unknown quantity in Rosel George Brown’s Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue (1968).  I’ve wanted to read her short stories for quite a long time but wasn’t going to pass up her most well known work.

Thoughts?

1. Countdown to Midnight: Twelve Great Stories About Nuclear War, ed. H. Bruce Franklin (1984)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Many Worlds of Barry Malzberg, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

The Many Worlds of Barry Malzberg (1975) contains eleven short works of which four (“Initiation,” “Management,” “Reconstitution,” and “After the Unfortunate Accident”) were original to the volume and have not been published elsewhere.

My first exposure to Barry N. Malzberg’s massive short fiction catalogue was a mixed bag.  But even the least intriguing of his works contain literary prose and unsettling scenes…  I recommend this collection for a handful of the stories (although the best can be found elsewhere): namely, “The Union Forever” (1973), “Reconstitution” (1975), “Death to the Keeper” (1968), and”Closed Sicilian” (1973).  

I found Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIV (Wilhelm + Spinrad + Ball + Vance)

Another wonderful batch including two novellas by Kate Wilhelm in the collection Abyss (1971).

A Norman Spinrad novel, The Men in the Jungle (1967), courtesy of the MPorcius, the proprietor of MPorcius Fiction Log.  I sent him a portion of my wall of shame (i.e. worst SF novels) and got a few worthwhile ones in return…

Another Vance novel courtesy of MPorcius as well—one of the Demon Prince novels.  Do I have to read them in order?

And Brian N. Ball’s first novel, Sundog (1965).  I thought Singularity Station (1973) was unadulterated pulp fun.

So the Spinrad novel critiques pulp and Ball revels in pulp…

Thoughts?

1. Abyss, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

(Lou Feck’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Journey Beyond Tomorrow (variant title: The Journey of Joenes), Robert Sheckley (1962)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1962 edition)

4.75/5 (Very Good)

“Beyond a doubt, Joenes himself was an actual person; but there is no way of determining the authenticity of every story told about him.  Some of the tales do not appear to be factual accounts, but rather, moral allegories.  But even those that are considered allegorical are representative of the spirit and temper of the times” (vii).

Robert Sheckley’s third novel Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962)—after Immortality, Inc. (1959) and The Status Civilization (1960)—is a wildly successful episodic novel that plays to his strengths as a short story author.  In a similar but less radical manner as George Alec Effinger’s What Entropy Means to Me (1972), Sheckley subverts the notion of narrative truth and by so doing explores the complex nature of Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. CXIII (Dangerous Visions + Holdstock + Stewart + Joseph)

Recent travels yield wonderful SF hauls—including one of the most famous post-apocalyptical novels of all time, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949).  Thankfully my edition is graced with a gorgeous Lehr landscape—strange forms in the distances, crushed cars in the foreground.

The most famous SF anthology of all times—Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967).  As a proponent of the New Wave movement it’s about time that I snagged a copy (disclaimer before the cries of derision: I have already read numerous stories contained in the anthology).

An early Holdstock novel (I might get to that one soon)….

And a shot in the dark—M. K. Joseph’s The Hole in the Zero (1967).  John Clute (the noted SF critic) describes it such on SF Encyclopedia: it “begins as an apparently typical Space-Opera adventure into further dimensions at the edge of the Universe, but quickly reveals itself as a linguistically brilliant, complex exploration of the nature of the four personalities involved as they begin out of their own resources to shape the low-probability regions into which they have tumbled. Ultimately the novel takes on allegorical overtones. As an examination of the metaphorical potentials of sf language and subject matter, it is a significant contribution to the field.”  Sounds intriguing to me…

Thoughts?

1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Voices of Time and Other Stories, J. G. Ballard (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

J. G. Ballard’s second short story collection, Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962), is only ever so slightly less brilliant than his first, Billenium (1962).   The stories are often linked thematically: exploring post-apocalyptical landscapes,  rituals in the face of death, urban alienation, mental fragmentation.   Scientists test whether humans can live without sleep, strange megaliths populate the volcanic landscapes of an alien planet, residual sounds are gathered in city dumps, and new ultra modern housing complexes facilitate detachment from the real world…

Highly recommended for all fans of literary, thought-provoking, and moody SF.   Ballard is one of the most routinely Continue reading

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