Book Review: Drunkard’s Walk, Frederik Pohl (1960)

(Nik Puspurica’s cover for the 1960 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Frederik Pohl’s best early SF was produced with his frequent collaborator C. M. Kornbluth—the most notable of which include the masterpiece The Space Merchants (1953) and Gladiator-In-Law (1954).  The solo work I have read so far from the same period does not reach the heights of his Kornbluth collaborations but rather fluctuates between downright dull satires with intelligent dogs in the vein of Slave Ship (1956) to solid but unspectacular satire about higher education, Drunkard’s Walk (1960).  As of this moment in my SF reading career I place Pohl’s editorial work above his 50s/early 60s solo SF.  That said, I have not read any of his short fiction.

Recommended for fans of 50s/60s Continue reading Book Review: Drunkard’s Walk, Frederik Pohl (1960)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVIII (Anthologies: Again Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2, Orbit 8; Schmitz, Malzberg)

Nearing the end of my undocumented purchases… A great series of coves — including Richard Powers and Paul Lehr.  Again, Dangerous Visions Vol. 2 (1972) (did not realize it was in two volumes, but alas) and another Malzberg novel, The Last Transaction (1977) to add to my nearly complete collection of his solo written novels.

Thoughts?

1. The Eternal Frontiers, James H. Schmitz (1973)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVIII (Anthologies: Again Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2, Orbit 8; Schmitz, Malzberg)

Book Review: The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde, Norman Spinrad (1970)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1970 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

A solid collection of seventeen short stories and one novelette by one of my favorite New Wave authors, Norman Spinrad.  Although the collection seldom reaches the heights of his inventive and original alt-history novel The Iron Dream (1972)The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (1970) is still a wonderful showcase of his earliest short fiction. However, Spinrad’s relentlessly bleak outlook on Earth’s future will not appeal to all SF readers.  I only recommend the collection for fans of experimental late 60s SF, the New Wave movement, and bleak satires of societal ills (count me in!).

The best include: “Technicality” (1966), a war against pacifist aliens who wield horrific but non-lethal weapons; “The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde” (1969), an absurdist pastiche of the bastardization of ideology and societal decadence; and “Dead Continue reading Book Review: The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde, Norman Spinrad (1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVII (Lafferty + Malzberg + Cowper + Anthology)

A strange bunch….

Another Barry N. Malzberg novel—Chorale (1978)—to add to my nearly complete collection of his SF novels + short story collections.

Another Richard Cowper novel—purchased months ago mainly due to the gorgeous Paul Lehr cover.  The whimsical subject matter of the work unfortunately does not match the profound and surreal stillness of Lehr’s vision.

A short story collection containing a nice range of nebula-nominated (and winning) short SF from 1970: Sturgeon, Laumer, Wolfe, Fritz Leiber, Lafferty, Harrison, Russ.

And finally what is supposedly one of Lafferty’s oddest experiments: Annals of Klepsis (1983).

Thoughts?

1. Phoenix, Richard Cowper (1968)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVII (Lafferty + Malzberg + Cowper + Anthology)

Book Review: Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1973 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Naomi Mitchison’s first science fiction novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), is a brilliant episodic rumination on the nature of non-violent interaction with alien species that challenge (and transform) conceptions of ourselves and others.  Although R. S. Lonati’s cover for the 1964 Four Square edition suggests a pulp adventure—replete with flashy spaceships, explosions, and traditional adventure—Memoirs is cut from an altogether different cloth.

The first sentence of the novel narrows in on Mitchison’s central themes:

“I think about my friends and the fathers of my children.  I think about my children, and I think less about my four dear normals than I think about Viola.  And I think about Ariel.  And the other.  I wonder sometimes how old  would be if I counted the years of time blackout during exploration (5).”

Continue reading Book Review: Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVI (Le Guin + MacApp + Farmer + Anthology)

In my youth I read Ursula Le Guin like a madman—somewhere in the intervening years I misplaced my copies of her short story collections.  So, while voyaging to a nearby city (with Half Price Books) I decided to snag one—The Compass Rose (1982) contains mostly 70s short stories.  Excited.

I have been presently impressed with *some* of Philip José Farmer’s work—namely, Strange Relations (1960)—-so I could not resist a “best of” collection.

I am perhaps most excited about David Gerrold’s edited collection Generation: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction (1972).  Contains a wide range (and almost equal ratio of male/female authors) of fascinating stories.

 I bought C. M. MacApp’s Secret of the Sunless World (1969) due to the title and the amazing Berkey cover.  Now that I sat down and transcribed the back cover I rather dissuaded from picking it up anytime soon…

1. The Book of Philip José Farmer, Philip José Farmer (revised 1982, 1973)

(James Warhola’s cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVI (Le Guin + MacApp + Farmer + Anthology)

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

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