November 24, 2013 § 21 Comments
(Mel Hunter’s cover for the 1956 edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
Although Theodore Sturgeon is generally considered a master of the SF short form, his collection A Way Home (1956) contains only two worthwhile stories – ”Thunder and Roses” (1947) and ”Bulkhead” (1955). The rest I was either unable to finish or struggled to muddle through over the course of the last two or so weeks. Fortunately, the near masterpiece ”Bulkhead” was almost worth the pain induced by the intelligent dog related subgenre of SF manifest in “Tiny and the Monster” (1947) or the cute accidentally destructive hurkle kittens of ”The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949).
At this stage in my recent endeavor to brush up on the best of the 50s short story wordsmiths, I place Sturgeon below Robert Sheckley, Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Miriam Allen deFord, Lester del Rey, Walter M. Miller, Jr., C. M. Kornbluth, and Frederik Pohl. (shocking to some, I know!).
However, before I make a more definitive conclusion I call on my readers to list what you consider his best short work « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Diagrammatic Wonders (alien sand art + planning invasions + and other more mysterious formulations), Part I
November 21, 2013 § 18 Comments
(Virgil Finlay’s cover for the April 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe, ed. Hans Stefan Santesson)
At first glance this is a miscellaneous collection of covers on diagrammatic wonders — the aliens (or “advanced” humans) on Virgil Finlay’s cover for the April 1957 issue of Fantastic Universe conjure an image of earth with colored sand, generals plot invasions via maps and other diagrams depicting troop movements….
While some of the covers are themselves diagrams (Christopher Zacharow’s cover for the 1985 edition of Ancient of Days (1985), Michael Bishop) others place their characters in opposition to each other as pieces « Read the rest of this entry »
Book Review: And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons), Michael Bishop (1976)
November 19, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Jonathan Weld’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Michael Bishop’s And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons) (1976) is a melancholic and allegorically inclined parable about a coming cataclysm that threatens a programmed and hierarchically rigid society (accomplished via genetic modification). Bishop’s voice is an intensely humanistic once, futuristic technology is present but not a central concern…. The simple but effective plot is the perfect vehicle for his moralistic ruminations: a man forced into action, a world compelled — despite the external forces at play — to adapt.
And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees is the first of Michael Bishop’s works I have read and I am definitely intrigued enough to place his supposedly superior Nebula-nominated first novel, Funeral for the « Read the rest of this entry »
November 17, 2013 § 18 Comments
(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1973 edition)
If one were to distill 70s space opera in a decanter filled with SF pulp the result would be Singularity Station (1973). Combined with the dynamic Chris Foss cover — I’ve never enjoyed his work but it does embody the vigor and explosiveness of the novel — Brian N. Ball’s vision is an veritable adolescent SF wet dream filled with robots, cutting edge science (in this case, 60s speculation on the nature of black holes), a love interest (not the 30s/40s pulp versions) in distress, a mad scientist, and inventive spaceships and space stations.
70s pulp at its « Read the rest of this entry »
November 13, 2013 § 33 Comments
MPorcius, a frequent and well-read commentator on my site, has started transferring his numerous amazon reviews and writing new reviews of classic SF (a substantial portion is pre-1980s) to his blog. Please visit him and comment on his posts!
queue rant: I’ve noticed a surprising lack of frequently updated classic SF blogs online. Yes, many bloggers occasionally dabble in the distant era of SF glory or publish yet another review of the obligatory masterpieces because they appear on a some “best of” list (Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc). However, few are devoted to the period and make it a point to write reviews of books that very few people will ever actually read due to their obscurity i.e. blogs that don’t sell out by churning out reviews of new Tor releases (I have declined their offer) or endless 4/5 or 5/5 starred let’s pat each other on the back reviews of self-published (and generally awful) ebooks « Read the rest of this entry »
November 13, 2013 § 19 Comments
Bargain bins yield some Clarke and Asimov classics I read when I was a teen but never owned…. I remember thinking at the time that Imperial Earth (1975) was one of Clarke’s best novels. Dickson’s Dorsai! (1960) — I’ve never been a fan of military SF — is a classic I need to get around to reading. And, my final find was Richard Cowper’s Time Out of Mind (1973). I was surprisingly impressed with his lighthearted romp of a novel, Profundis (1979).
Thoughts on the books?
1. Time Out of Mind, Richard Cowper (1973)
(Don Maitz’s cover for the 1981 edition)
From the back cover: “As a young boy, Laurie Linton encountered a strange apparition: a ghostly man who urgently mouthed a message: KILL MAGOBION! Years later, as members of the UN Narcotics Security Agency, Linton and the beautiful Carol Kennedy were assigned a special duty: investigation of a mysterious drug which endowed its addicts with superhuman powers. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 12, 2013 § 9 Comments
(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1975 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Michael G. Coney’s Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975) — often considered a minor classic of the genre — is a lyrical paean to young love arrayed against a backdrop of a world filled with increasingly sinister undercurrents, unusual (and fantastic) fauna and flora, and characters we connect with in deeply emotional ways. I am the first to admit that I am intensely suspicious of SF labeled thusly: “This is a love story, and a way story, and a science fiction store, and more besides” (authors note). However, the “love story” elements are so delicately wrought and unfold naturally without undue melodramatic flair that I was smitten with the characters and felt for their struggles.
Welcome to an alien world where anomie trees « Read the rest of this entry »