Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CI (Clarke + Bishop + Varley + Maclennan)

April 12, 2014 § 5 Comments

A nice range of SF authors/works!  A Michael Bishop collection containing many of his most famous 70s short stories for my upcoming guest post series….  And a SF juvenile written by Phyllis Maclennan with an intriguing premise (although, as always, I’m very dubious about juveniles in general).  John Varley’s famous novel Titan (1979) seems like a fascinating take on the Big Dumb Object trope. And finally a 50s adventure by the indomitable Arthur C. Clarke.

I am most intrigued by the Varley’s Titan and Bishop’s Blooded on Arachne.

Some of the covers are cringe inducing.

Thoughts?

1. Titan, John Varley (1979)

TTNRPPCRKF1979

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

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

April 5, 2014 § 9 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: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)

March 29, 2014 § 15 Comments

A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).

Enjoy!

1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)

FTRWRLDSCL1968

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation.  This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia.  All life should have perished millions of years ago.  But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death.  Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Existential Crisis

March 23, 2014 § 15 Comments

PRTNTRRRRM1968

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Operation Terror (1962), Murray Leinster)

Barry N. Malzberg’s depressed/depraved astronauts have inspired me to make a post! (unfortunately, the covers for his books do not really fit the bill).

Guy Billot’s cover for the 1975 edition of Brian Stableford’s Man in a Cage (1975) perfectly embodies the feel of existential crisis—man, hemmed in by a single red line, raises his arms against the star-studded sky in anguish.  The nature of the crisis is left oblique.  I have selected a variety of covers that convey—with varying degrees of success/precision—this same mental state.

I admit that some might not fit the bill exactly—for example, in the uncredited « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Ancient, My Enemy, Gordon R. Dickson (1974)

March 15, 2014 § 14 Comments

(Peter Rauch’s cover for the 1974 edition)

2.75/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Average)

Between 1974 and 1990 Gordon R. Dickson’s collection Ancient, My Enemy (1974) was reprinted eleven times.  The reason for this “popularity” is beyond me considering I found that a grand total of three of the nine stories were solid while the rest were poorly written cliché-ridden magazine filler…  Dickson had the ability to write some great short SF—for example, Mike at Potpourri of SF Literature adores his collection In the Bone (1987).  But Ancient, My Enemy gives little indication of his talent and generally lacks the insight that his novels such as The Alien Way (1965) possess.

Recommended only for Gordon R. Dickson completists.  I suggest acquiring later more discerning collections of his 50s/60s SF such as « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Billenium, J. G. Ballard (1962)

March 10, 2014 § 22 Comments

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

Billenium (1962), J. G. Ballard’s first collection of short stories, contains three masterpieces of the 50s/60s: “Billenium” (1961), “Build-Up” (variant title: The Concentration City) (1957), and “Chronopolis” (1960).  The first is a deadpan satire on overpopulation, the second a fantastic Borgesian depiction of an endless city that stretches (literally) in all directions, and the third a vision of a city that had enough and revolted against time.  I preferred these three ruminations, that unfolded in evocative and decaying urban spaces, to the three decadent and baroque stories—”Studio 5, The Stars” (1961), “Mobile” (variant title: “Venus Smiles”) (1957), and “Prima Belladonna” (1956)—from his famous Vermillion Sands sequence.  The remaining four are all readable.

As with J. G. Ballard’s first novel masterpiece, The Drowned World (1962), the sense of decay and malaise that permeate majority of the stories in Billenium is gorgeously « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: New Type of Post (grouped reviews of uncollected short stories published in magazines)

March 9, 2014 § 5 Comments

 

I do not own many SF magazines from the 40s-70s.  The reasons are as follows: 1) Novels tended to be serialized which means I have to track down multiple magazines to read an entire novel.  2) The novels were often radically altered for their first book form publication (think, Herbert’s “Dune World” (1963) that later became Dune (1965).  Thus, I rather own the later novel form that wasn’t as constrained by the strictures of magazine form. 3) I love short story collections and would rather own the entire collection than read a singleton story.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCV (Ballard + Butler + Brunner + Schmidt)

March 4, 2014 § 17 Comments

I must confess, I’ve never read an Octavia Butler novel…  I now own one and will read it soon.  More Ballard!  More Brunner (a review of his 1969 masterpiece The Jagged Orbit is coming soon)! And a complete mystery, I mean, who besides Tarbandu over at The PorPor Books Blog has read Newton and the Quasi-Apple (1975) by Stanley Schmidt?

Thoughts?

1. The Voices of Time, J. G. Ballard (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Visualizing Time, Part II (time travel + sundials + the decay of eternity + time portals)

March 1, 2014 § 12 Comments

11_1953_07_fantasticsty_walterpopp

(Walter Popp’s cover for the 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine, ed. Samuel Mines)

It has been along time since I cobbled together a cover art post…

…but it’s a good one!

This is Part II of my Visualizing Time sequence—if you haven’t seen it already check out Part I.  And in Part II we have a standoff across time with your primitive ancestors, decay and the hourglass, rewriting America’s racist past, the sundial as an arena for an epic showdown with an alien, jumping through cave paintings (a metaphor « Read the rest of this entry »

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