Tag Archives: 1960s

Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series

Long-Tomorrow dune

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” 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.

Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).

More “What to Include in the Gollancz Masterwork Series” Lists (blog friends)

Chris over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, and Creased 

Megan over at From Couch to Moon

2theD over at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature

Ian Sales over at It Doesn’t Have to be Right…

Jesse over at Speculiction…

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

Book Review: Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1969 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Joanna Russ’ first published novel Picnic on Paradise (1968) delightfully subverts traditional SF pulp adventure tropes.  Although not as finely wrought as The Female Man (1975), And Chaos Died (1970), or her masterpiece We Who Are About To… (1976), Picnic is worthwhile for all fans of feminist SF and the more radical visions of the 60s.

Unfortunately, the metafictional implications/literary possibilities of the Alyx sequence Continue reading Book Review: Picnic on Paradise, Joanna Russ (1968)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXX (Harness + Dickson + Haldeman + Brunner)

An intriguing range of SF novels…  A few thrift store pickups and a few sent by my father.  Excited about the John Haldeman fix-up novel All My Sins Remembered (1977).  Won’t read the Brunner for a long long time—but I’m a Brunner completists so I buy his books on sight if I don’t have a copy.

Still haven’t read anything by Charles L. Harness….  Not sure about this 80s rewrite of his late 40s serialized novel.  We shall see.

Thoughts?

1. All My Sins Remembered, John Haldeman (1977)

(Paul Stinson’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXX (Harness + Dickson + Haldeman + Brunner)

Book Review: Homeward and Beyond, Poul Anderson (1975)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

2.5/5 (Collated rating: Bad)

Homeward and Beyond (1975) is comprised of four novelettes, four short stories, and one novella.   According to an article I read recently on the Wall Street Journal, Poul Anderson was one of only five authors in the 50s that made enough writing SF without needing a day job—and he was the only one who made a “good living” (he made more money than Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, etc).  This incredible production did not always yield quality.  Homeward and Beyond is by far one of the poorer Anderson collections I’ve encountered—on the level of  The Horn of Time (1968) and nowhere close to Time and Stars (1964)—despite the presence of his Hugo/Nebula-winning novelette “Goat Song” (1972).

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis (*some spoilers*)

“Wings of Victory” [Technic History] (1972) 2/5 (Bad) serves as the first contact story between human Continue reading Book Review: Homeward and Beyond, Poul Anderson (1975)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)

New books!  At one point in time I had a copy of Frank Herbert’s great Destination: Void (1966).  However, it wasn’t the original 1966 version but a rewrite from the late 70s.  Generally I prefer reading the first published versions (unless they were serialized in magazines) so I was desperate to get my hands on a copy.

More Sladek!   The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) is his best known novel.  SF aficionados of the 60s/70s often describe Saldek as one of the unsung comedic/satirical greats.  I’ve read his first novel a while back, The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968) and had a lukewarm reaction.   I will definitely pick up The Müller-Fokker Effect before the year is out.

Margaret St. Clair’s Sign of the Labrys (1963) has proved to be one of the worst books I’ve read this year.  But, I will give her short stories, the the collection Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974). another chance.

2theD at PotPourri of Science Fiction Literature send me Douglas R. Mason’s The Resurrection of Roger Diment (1972) a while back.  Mason’s The Eight Against Utopia (1966) was downright dismal so I’m not sure when I’ll get to this one.

Thoughts?

1. Destination: Void, Frank Herbert (1966)

(Uncredited—looks somewhat like Di Fate?—cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)

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)

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)