May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
(Robert Foster’s evocative cover for the 1972 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Average)
James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a fix-up novel containing three previously published but linked novelettes: ‘Witches Must Burn’ (1956), ‘Trial By Fire’ (1969), and ‘Witch Hunt’ (1969). The first two are contiguous while the third section is more loosely related. I will rate each separately as I did with the superior The Immortals (1962).
As someone who has lived in areas of the United States plagued by virulent strains of anti-intellectualism, massive higher education funding cuts (especially for the liberal arts), and an increasing emphasis on “practical” fields of study, James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a profoundly unsettling read. Of course Gunn’s dystopic future is much more one of doom and gloom: The universities lie in smoldering ruins, the professors (“eggheads”) « Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2013 § 27 Comments
A new bookstore in my hometown! Great results! Dirt cheap (between 1-2 $ a book)! Happy me!
I finally have a copy of Hal Clement’s hard science fiction masterpiece, Mission of Gravity (1953)… And a collection of William Tenn’s short stories with a downright gorgeous Powers cover — Tenn is supposedly up there with Sheckley in the satirical pantheon of the 50s… Among others…
Has anyone read Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Live (1968)? I’ve never heard of it before but the Lehr cover was too amazing to pass up…
1. The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956)
(Robert Powers’ cover for the 1956 edition)
From the inside flap: “WIT: an extra-terrestrial sells pornographic literature « Read the rest of this entry »
May 1, 2013 § 10 Comments
(John Richards’ cover for the 1958 edition of Crisis 2000 (1955), Charles Eric Maine)
On science fiction covers from the 40s and 50s the atom is often emblematic of atomic power and all the dangers and promises that such a scientific breakthrough could (and did) yield. In John Richards’ cover for the 1958 edition of Charles Eric Maine’s Crisis 2000 (1955) the humanoid super beings arrive from Saturn to terrorize Earthmen — and, carefully covering the private areas of one of these denizens of Saturn is the atomic symbol surrounded by blood. The cover is made even more unnerving by the multiplicity of identical « Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2013 § 6 Comments
4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
James E. Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) is less about the lives and mental state of the eponymous humans “blessed” with immortally (a fascinating topic in itself) and more about the ramifications of their existence on the rest of society not “blessed” with such genetic structures. Their presence exacerbates the problems of an already dystopically tinged world where medical care is increasingly the domain of the ultra wealthy. With the knowledge that a random genetic mutation has created a bloodline whose members are immortal, society is all too eager to root them out and (literally) bleed them dry. Living longer — achieved by whatever means — becomes the single-minded desire of all. Most of humanity is oblivious to the festering (and carcinogenic) « Read the rest of this entry »
April 23, 2013 § 16 Comments
A strange conglomeration of novels….
If there’s any era I’m lacking knowledge in it’s late 20s-early 40s (well, I’ve read some Van Vogt + Edgar Rice Burroughs) pulp science fiction — so I decided to brush up on some of the greats. With that in mind I acquired five Ray Cummings novels (the rest will be in a later acquisition post) and Van Vogt’s Slan (1940)….. I don’t have high hopes. But now I own my first Alex Schomburg cover!
I generally do not accept review copies due to the fact that most offers are for self-published works rather than republished novels from the period I’m most familiar with (and prefer to read) — 1950-1985. So, when New York Review of Books offered me a copy of Kingsley Amis’ well-known alt-history/sci-fi (depending on whose definition you’re reading) novel The Alteration (1976) I happily agreed….
1. The Exile of Time, Ray Cummings (magazine publication 1931)
(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the 1964 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Skyport (1959), Curt Siodmak)
Part II of my series on cover art depicting space stations (Part I). Here are vast assortment of primarily Alex Schomburg and Vincent Di Fate’s artwork — they did love their space stations. But, I think my favorite is by far Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Curt Siodmak’s Skyport (1959) — the author is of course famous for the novel Donovan’s Brain (1942). The delightful color scheme, the 50s aesthetic, the vague indication of continents below, the cluster of « Read the rest of this entry »
April 8, 2013 § 19 Comments
On the cross, a future prophet (or false one)? A martyr for a lost cause? Or, some future priestly emissary of the Catholic church dispensing law on those gathered…. Perhaps some transformation of man to a godly state all hallowed and arrayed with religious accouterments of faith? I’ve gathered a fun collection of science fiction prophets mostly decked out / depicted in distinctly Christian style.
My favorite is Robert Foster’s cover for the 1970 edition of Behold the Man (1969) by Michael Moorcock…. And Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1970 edition of This Immortal (variant title: And Call Me Conrad) (1965) contains a fascinating color scheme — although there isn’t any mold on the figure’s face as Zelazny « Read the rest of this entry »
March 31, 2013 § 10 Comments
(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1973 edition of Operation Umanaq (1973), John Rankine)
Here are only a small portion of the cover images I’ve collected of space stations and space habitats of the rotating wheel variety — i.e. the ring (or a torus) spins creating pseudo-gravity. As in the double-wheeled space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)… I have always been enamored with space stations/habitats which was part of reason I adored Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a kid (although today I prefer it over the over Star Treks due to the complicated arc « Read the rest of this entry »
March 30, 2013 § 7 Comments
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1972 edition)
As of late I’ve been returning to the extensive catalogue of Frank Herbert’s non-Dune novels on my shelf – The Eyes of Heisenberg (1966) was an engaging read with adept world building which created an intriguing/harrowing dystopic future. The God Makers (1972) lacks not only Herbert’s trademark dense prose (for example, constantly shifting perspective over the course of a conversation) but also features one of his more poorly conceived future worlds. This might be due to the fact that the novel was cobbled together from four short stories « Read the rest of this entry »