Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. C (Bishop + A. E. Van Vogt + Pangborn + Pratt)

April 5, 2014 § 11 Comments

Another Michael Bishop novel for my upcoming guest post series (announcement coming soon)!  Irresistible after the brilliant Stolen Faces (1977) and his masterpiece A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975)….

The rest are fun but not high on my list of must reads.  I’ve never been a fan of A. E. Van Vogt (could not tolerate the inarticulate labyrinth of a novel The World of Null-A) but the Powers cover on The War Against the Rull (1959) was fun.

I’ve heard good things about Edgar Pangborn, although people seldom discuss West of Eden (1953), perhaps with good reason.

Fletcher Pratt’s Invaders from Rigel (1932) is one of those AMAZING covers but incredibly dubious reads.  Even the back cover is rather non-sensical.

Thoughts?

1. Transfigurations, Michael Bishop (1979)

TRNSFGRTND1980

(Mike Hinge’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Immortality Themed SF Novels/Short Stories Resource Posted

February 16, 2014 § 5 Comments

  

I while back I put out a call for SF novels/short works on immortality to add to a preliminary list I put together.  Due to my lack of knowledge of newer SF and uncanny ability to forget relevant previously read works I eagerly added your suggestions.  And Marta Randall’s Islands (1976) motivated me to finally post  it…

Here’s the LIST!

If you can think of any that I might be missing be sure to « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCI (Ballard + MacLean + Aldiss + Watson)

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 »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Fractured Bodies (unraveling, decaying, [de]constructing)

December 8, 2013 § 31 Comments

CRMPTNDVDD1979

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Crompton Divided (variant title: The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton) (1978), Robert Sheckley)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Robert Sheckley’s Crompton Divided (1978) was the inspiration for this post.  I found the cover many years ago while looking through Lehr’s entire (mostly brilliant catalogue) and was intrigued.  The man, comprised of puzzle-like pieces that slowly morph into the swirls of his clothes, stares at us with hybridized eyes — a planet, a pupil — while one missing puzzle piece allows the viewer a glimpse of a barren landscape.  His brain, entirely a puzzle, is complete, but are his senses crumbling?

 Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1971 edition of Larry Niven’s collection All the Myriad Ways (1971) is even more fantastic — the puzzle pieces (bones, faces, limbs) dangle in the air « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Xenogenesis, Miriam Allen deFord (1969)

December 5, 2013 § 18 Comments

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition — there is some speculation that it might be a collaboration with Leo and Diane Dillon)

3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)

Miriam Allen deFord–one of the more prolific SF short story authors of the 50s-70s whose works appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, If, Fantastic Universe, Galaxy, Worlds of Tomorrow, etc–deserves a Gollancz Masterworks volume.  But, as Ian Sales has pointed out so forcefully in his recent article (here), despite the number of prolific female SF authors in the 50s-70s they were rarely republished and are perhaps the least read group of SF authors for modern audiences.  There are some exceptions but few readers can name a female author pre-Ursula Le Guin.  deFord’s shorts were collected in only two volumes, Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971) and both print runs were limited to the first year of publication.

Informed by her feminist activism (she was an important campaigner for birth control) and her earlier career in the newspapers, deFord’s stories tackle themes such as overpopulation, racism, colonialism, gender issues, sexism, and alienation.  Her works range from deceptively simple allegories to future histories vast in scope and complexity (for short stories).  Her female characters are almost all individualistic, resourceful, and highly educated–they often struggle against increasingly regimented/mechanized/homogenized societies in order to raise families in addition to their careers.  In short, deFord advocates forcefully the right to self-determination « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates (New Resource): List of Immortality Themed SF (a call to contribute!)

November 27, 2013 § 10 Comments

This post is a call for readers to submit their favorite immortality themed science fiction NOT included on my list below (and even examples they did not care for so I can make this a more substantial resource).  I’ll make a page with all the information I receive for easy consultation soon (INDEX of similar pages/articles).

A while back I started gathering a list of titles — via SF Encyclopedia, other online resources, and my own shelves — on immortality themed SF.  I have always been intrigued by the social space (one plagued by violence and despair or buoyed by the hope of a better future) that the possibility of immortality might generate.

I would argue that the single best example of social effects that the possibility of immortality might create is Clifford D. Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967).  In similar fashion, James Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) takes place in a world where immortals do exist, they skirt « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: A Way Home, Theodore Sturgeon (1956)

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

1-1957_04_fantasticuniverse_finlay

(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 »

Updates: A New Classic SF Review Blog to add to your list

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 »

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