February 15, 2014 § 13 Comments
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Nominated for the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel
*Note: I read the 1980 Pocket edition which, according to Locus, was modified (to what extent I do not know) from the original 1976 first edition.
Marta Randall, the first female president of SFWA, is one of numerous female science fiction writers from the 70s that are seldom read today. A while back Ian Sales alerted me to Randall’s work in his very positive review of A City in the North (1976) on SF Mistressworks. Recently, while looking for unread works on my immortality-themed SF list (here), I came across the Nebula-nominated Islands (1976).
One of the more effective ways to write about the ennui « Read the rest of this entry »
February 9, 2014 § 26 Comments
First, a painful example of early 60s marketing for a SF novel written by a women: ”WOMEN ARE WRITING SCIENCE-FICTION! ORIGINAL! BRILLIANT!! DAZZLING!!! Women are closer to the primitive than men. They are conscious of the moon-pulls, the earth-tides. They posses a buried memory of humankind’s obscure and ancient past which can emerge to unique color and flavor a novel.”
I wish I possessed a buried memory of humankind’s obscure and ancient past…
A wonderful batch. My first Avram Davidson collection although the blurb and cover are utterly unappealing. More Ballard, my first Margaret St. Clair novel, more Ellison…
1. Vermillion Sands, J. G. Ballard (1971)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1971 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
February 8, 2014 § 14 Comments
(Murray Tinkleman’s cover for the 1979 edition)
John Brunner has long been one of my favorite SF authors and it almost pains me to review dismal disasters like Double, Double (1969). I find it mind-boggling that an author who produced the otherworldly Stand on Zanzibar (1968) can turn around and release Double, Double the very next year. Yes, yes I know, even brilliant SF authors such as Robert Silverberg churned out a vast and bizarre variety of sex/smut books to make ends meet (and buy a mansion) under such names as L.T. Woodward MD (Virgin Wives, Sex in our Schools, etc) and Don Elliot (Cousin Lover, Gang Girl, Gay Girl, The Instructor, etc) so I really should not complain….
Double, Double contains the most rudimentary clichéd premise and a plot used in countless 50s B-movies. At moments it feels like Brunner wanted to transform the plot into a vehicle for social commentary. However, at these crucial junctures where Brunner could have used his profusion of strange disparate characters gathered together in the English countryside to comment on the state of English society « Read the rest of this entry »
January 31, 2014 § 32 Comments
One of the better groups of acquisitions in a while! After Katherine MacLean’s masterpiece Missing Man (1975) I was very excited to come across a collection of her late 40s and 50s short stories. Unfortunately, my edition — from 1973— had such an awful cover that I couldn’t put in on this post. Instead, I put the first edition cover by Paul Lehr which is simply gorgeous….
Ballard collections are always welcome! I have all of his short works in a single volume but the Powers cover is top-notch.
One of Ian Watson’s most famous novels…
And an unknown work by Brian Aldiss, Enemies of the System (1978)… Has anyone read it? I suspect it will be the weakest book of the bunch.
1. The Diploids, Katherine MacLean (1962)
(Uncredited — but looks like Lehr — cover for the 1962 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
January 26, 2014 § 8 Comments
(Blanchard’s cover for the 1960 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
Blanchard’s abstract vaginal cover for the 1960 first edition of Philip José Farmer’s Strange Relations (1960) hints, just obliquely enough to avoid being explicit, at the collection’s radical and groundbreaking contents. Nothing else existed like this from the 50s! Having exploded onto the scene with the “transgressive” (SF encyclopedia) novella “The Lovers” (1953) (later expanded to novel length), Strange Relations (1960) collects a further five short works from the mid-50s and later on similar themes — theology, sex, xenobiology, Freud, and social satire.
Each work revolves around a particular Freudian scenario, a Freudian fantasy. One can imagine that authors such as Barry N. Malzberg « Read the rest of this entry »
January 25, 2014 § 14 Comments
More Dallas, TX Half Price Book finds… and a few gifts from 2theD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature (found on one of his infrequent trips to the states).
Can’t wait to tackle the Ian Watson collection — Ian Sales has characterized him one of the treasure of the British SF (I’ll post a book of his in the coming weeks). Wilhelm’s extensive reputation seems to be based mostly on her Hugo-winning fix-up novel, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976). It’s unfortunate that few read her other novels and short story collections. The Nebula-nominated Margaret and I (1971) is a welcome edition to my collection.
I’ve not had success with Philip José Farmer in the past—To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971) might be the worst novel to win a Hugo—but the collection of 50s novelettes Strange Relations (1960) was too good to pass up.
And finally, my find of the holiday break, a SIGNED (with personal note) copy of Edward Bryant’s collection Cinnabar (1976)! For a mere two dollars (incorrectly placed in the non-signed SF books)….
1. The Very Slow Time Machine, Ian Watson (1979)
(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
January 21, 2014 § 16 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)
“And there is light, before and beyond our vision, for which we give thanks. And there is heat, for which we are humble. And there is power, for which we count ourselves blessed. Blessed be Balmer, who gave us wavelengths. Blessed be Bohr, who brought us understanding. Blessed be Lyman, who saw beyond sight. Tell us now the stations of the spectrum [...]” (3).
Robert Silverberg’s To Open the Sky (1967) is an enjoyable pulp future history with a somewhat “different” premise–religion will be the main force that facilitates mankind’s exploration of the stars. In his intro of 1978 edition he discusses how the project came about. In the early 60s Frederik Pohl became his editor and allowed him to published, for the first time, SF “for love rather than money” (II). Up to this point Silverberg had never attempted, other than in the briefest sketch form, to extrapolate an entire future history à la Olaf Stapleton or Isaac Asimov. Silverberg’s vision is nowhere as complex « Read the rest of this entry »