The Gollancz Masterwork series [list] ranges from famous novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to lesser known short story collections such as The Caltraps of Time (1968) by David I. Masson. The Masterwork series has the power to introduce readers to the canonical “best of SF” works and works that should be considered classics. Many of the second group have not seen print for decades. Although I have some qualms about certain inclusions, I was genuinely blown away that they recently chose one of my favorite novels The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) by D. G. Compton —an underread and unjustly forgotten author.
Over the course of the next week or so a handful of my fellow SF bloggers (most of whom have a focus on earlier SF) will release lists on their sites of SF they would like to see featured by Gollancz. I have not given them any guidelines so the lists should be varied and hopefully will generate some discussion. I highly recommend you head over to their sites (I will post the links as they come in) and comment.
Other Lists (blog friends)
Chris over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, and Creased
Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).
My guidelines for inclusion
1. My frequent readers know that I prefer (passionately) SF from the 50s-70s Continue reading Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series
(Nik Puspurica’s cover for the 1960 edition)
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)
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)
A varied lot for sure…
One of the more intriguing is an anthology of nuclear themed SF containing stories by Sturgeon, Merril, Ward Moore, Ellison, Wilhelm, Spinrad, etc.
A Michael Moorcock novel An Alien Heat (1972)—I’ve had little luck with his SF in the past so hopefully this bucks the trend.
A fun 50s vision by Frederic Brown…
And an unknown quantity in Rosel George Brown’s Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue (1968). I’ve wanted to read her short stories for quite a long time but wasn’t going to pass up her most well known work.
1. Countdown to Midnight: Twelve Great Stories About Nuclear War, ed. H. Bruce Franklin (1984)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXV (Moorcock + Brown + Rosel George Brown + Frederic Brown + Anthology)
Recent travels yield wonderful SF hauls—including one of the most famous post-apocalyptical novels of all time, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949). Thankfully my edition is graced with a gorgeous Lehr landscape—strange forms in the distances, crushed cars in the foreground.
The most famous SF anthology of all times—Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967). As a proponent of the New Wave movement it’s about time that I snagged a copy (disclaimer before the cries of derision: I have already read numerous stories contained in the anthology).
An early Holdstock novel (I might get to that one soon)….
And a shot in the dark—M. K. Joseph’s The Hole in the Zero (1967). John Clute (the noted SF critic) describes it such on SF Encyclopedia: it “begins as an apparently typical Space-Opera adventure into further dimensions at the edge of the Universe, but quickly reveals itself as a linguistically brilliant, complex exploration of the nature of the four personalities involved as they begin out of their own resources to shape the low-probability regions into which they have tumbled. Ultimately the novel takes on allegorical overtones. As an examination of the metaphorical potentials of sf language and subject matter, it is a significant contribution to the field.” Sounds intriguing to me…
1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. CXIII (Dangerous Visions + Holdstock + Stewart + Joseph)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)
4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
J. G. Ballard’s second short story collection, Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962), is only ever so slightly less brilliant than his first, Billenium (1962). The stories are often linked thematically: exploring post-apocalyptical landscapes, rituals in the face of death, urban alienation, mental fragmentation. Scientists test whether humans can live without sleep, strange megaliths populate the volcanic landscapes of an alien planet, residual sounds are gathered in city dumps, and new ultra modern housing complexes facilitate detachment from the real world…
Highly recommended for all fans of literary, thought-provoking, and moody SF. Ballard is one of the most routinely Continue reading Book Review: The Voices of Time and Other Stories, J. G. Ballard (1962)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for Alien Horizons (1974), William F. Nolan)
I have been gathering this series of SF covers for a while—the human shape contorting, manipulated, transforming into in-human forms (trees, keys, insects, etc). Some are more metaphoric, for example Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964). While a few are clearly aliens which look “human”—Charles Shield’s incredibly uncanny cover for the 1979 edition of Fireflood and Other Stories (1979) by Vonda N. McIntyre….
All hint at bigger mysteries, and seduce with their uncertain Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Human Transformations + Transfigurations