Book Review: Three Novels (variant title: Natural State and Other Short Stories), Damon Knight (1967)

(Alan Peckolick’s cover for the 1967 edition)

3/5 (Collated Rating: Average)

Damon Knight’s Beyond the Barrier (1964) was so egregious that I have stayed away from his work until recently.  Around a year ago I acquired Three Novels (1969)—containing the two novellas “Rule Golden” (1954) and “Natural State” (1951) and one novelette “The Dying Man” (variant title: Dio”) (1951)—in order to start my reappraisal of the supposed Grand Master of the genre.  I have his collection Far Out (1961) and his novel A For Anything (variant title: The People Maker) (1959) on my shelf.

Although this selection of his 50s short fiction is far superior to Beyond the Barrier only one of the stories made any lasting impression: the philosophical and ruminative immortality themed tale, “The Dying Man.”  With that in mind it might be worth tracking it down in another place of publication, for example the thematic multi-author collection Immortals (1998) ed. Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.   There is a chance that the other two novellas in Three Novels will satisfy fans of Knight’s Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVIII (Malzberg + Bishop + Sheckley + White)

What a haul!  Three are from numerous previous expeditions to choice used book havens….  And I caved in and bought Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple (1974) on abebooks because his seldom reprinted works are hard to find.

Sheckley’s Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962) is near the top of my reading list.  Supposedly one of his best.

And, who can resist Michael Bishop’s magnum opus, No Enemy But Time (1982)?!?

And James White is always solid…

Thoughts?  Anything particularly worth reading?

1. The Destruction of the Temple, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Centauri Device, M. John Harrison (1974)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1980 edition)

4/5 (Good)

I can only imagine the shock that readers received and still receive (according to amazon reviews) after diving into M. John Harrison’s The Centauri Device (1974) expecting a standard space opera.  This is a subgenre where the anti-hero still has not found a firm place to roost…  You know the rubric: Empathizing with the hero.  Positivism.  Saving the world.  The good guys win.

I suspect the shock to the system that Stephen R. Donaldson’s leprous and bitter (and reluctant) savior Thomas Covenant in Lord Foul’s Bane (1977) and subsequent novels had on high fantasy was something akin to impact The Centauri Device‘s drug-addled, inarticulate, and passive spacer Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVII (Anthology: Galactic Empires, vol 1 and 2 + Holdstock + Watson)

Snatched all but one of these up at a 1$ SF hardback clearance sale at my local bookstore.  The other, Watson’s The Jonah Kit (1976) came via The Dawn Treader Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI.

I am not usually interested in Galactic Empires but the collection seems to have some intriguing short authors—for example, Lafferty, Davidson, Shaara, etc whose works I have no been that exposed to.  I look forward to slowly working my way through both volumes.

I also acquired my first Robert Holdstock novel, Where Time Winds Blow (1981).  Seems intriguing.

My schedule has finally calmed down a little so expect a slew of book reviews in the coming days/weeks…

Thoughts?

1. Galactic Empires, Volume I, ed. Brian Aldiss (1976)

GLCTCMPRSV1978

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVI (Malzberg + Laumer + Sargent + Russell)

A few more wonderful acquisitions from my pilgrimage to Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI from month or so ago.

More Malzberg!  And thankfully, one of the few really solid covers to grace his extensive oeuvre.  I read Sargent’s novel Cloned Lives (1976) recently and was disappointed.  Hopefully her short story collection Starshadows (1977) is more my cup of tea.

A 50s “classic” by Erin Frank Russell…

And a collection of short works on time travel by Keith Laumer….  Could not resist the early Di Fate cover which I have featured in art posts before.

Thoughts?

1. Timetracks, Keith Laumer (1972)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Very Slow Time Machine, Ian Watson (1979)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

My first exposure to Ian Watson’s extensive SF catalog could not have been more impressive.  The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) is up there with Robert Sheckley’s Store of Infinity (1960) and J. G. Ballard’s Billenium (1962) as the best overall collection of stories that I have encountered in the history of this site.

The collection is filled with narrative experimentation (“Programmed Loved Story,” “Agoraphobia, A.D. 2000,” etc), some awe inspiring ideas (“The Very Slow Time Machine,” “The Girl Who Was Art” etc.), a few delightful allegories (“Our Loves So Truly Meridional,” “My Soul Swims in a Goldfish Bowl”), and a handful of more traditional SF stories that hint at anthropological Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Josh Kirby’s Astronauts (1957-1976)

THRPRDCTVS1970

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968), John Sladek)

It has been too long since I collated a cover art post…  I have a love hate relationship with Josh Kirby’s work.  He tends to be on the comedic side, for example, he provided covers for a large percentage of Ron Goulart’s DAW titles (The Wicked Cyborg, etc) and Prachett’s Discworld novels.

However, for a brief window of time in the 60s and 70s he produced some gorgeously surreal depictions of astronauts and and astronaut transformations.  His cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant Continue reading

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