February 23, 2014 § 20 Comments
More Simak! More Philip José Farmer Farmer! And two unknown qualities, Harness’ collection The Rose (1955) and Sydney van Scyoc’s Saltflower (1971)…
And three of the the covers for this collection are top-notch—two Powers’ gems and a wonderful Lehr “cityscape.”
1. Saltflower, Sydney Van Scyoc (1971)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
February 8, 2014 § 14 Comments
(Murray Tinkleman’s cover for the 1979 edition)
John Brunner has long been one of my favorite SF authors and it almost pains me to review dismal disasters like Double, Double (1969). I find it mind-boggling that an author who produced the otherworldly Stand on Zanzibar (1968) can turn around and release Double, Double the very next year. Yes, yes I know, even brilliant SF authors such as Robert Silverberg churned out a vast and bizarre variety of sex/smut books to make ends meet (and buy a mansion) under such names as L.T. Woodward MD (Virgin Wives, Sex in our Schools, etc) and Don Elliot (Cousin Lover, Gang Girl, Gay Girl, The Instructor, etc) so I really should not complain….
Double, Double contains the most rudimentary clichéd premise and a plot used in countless 50s B-movies. At moments it feels like Brunner wanted to transform the plot into a vehicle for social commentary. However, at these crucial junctures where Brunner could have used his profusion of strange disparate characters gathered together in the English countryside to comment on the state of English society « Read the rest of this entry »
January 25, 2014 § 14 Comments
More Dallas, TX Half Price Book finds… and a few gifts from 2theD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature (found on one of his infrequent trips to the states).
Can’t wait to tackle the Ian Watson collection — Ian Sales has characterized him one of the treasure of the British SF (I’ll post a book of his in the coming weeks). Wilhelm’s extensive reputation seems to be based mostly on her Hugo-winning fix-up novel, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976). It’s unfortunate that few read her other novels and short story collections. The Nebula-nominated Margaret and I (1971) is a welcome edition to my collection.
I’ve not had success with Philip José Farmer in the past—To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971) might be the worst novel to win a Hugo—but the collection of 50s novelettes Strange Relations (1960) was too good to pass up.
And finally, my find of the holiday break, a SIGNED (with personal note) copy of Edward Bryant’s collection Cinnabar (1976)! For a mere two dollars (incorrectly placed in the non-signed SF books)….
1. The Very Slow Time Machine, Ian Watson (1979)
(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
December 26, 2013 § 3 Comments
(Stephen Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
Like so many SF fans, my first exposure to Joan D. Vinge’s work was via her wonderful Hugo-winning novel The Snow Queen (1980). Eventually I found a copy of her first published novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), which had an intriguing premise but a less than satisfactory delivery (poor characterizations, pacing, etc). The collection Fireship (1978) is comprised of two novellas: the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated “Fireship” (1978) and one of her earlier works, “Mother and Child” (1975).
The title story is the lesser of the two despite its (dare I say dubious) award nominations. It’s a light-hearted and unchallenging proto-cyperpunk « Read the rest of this entry »
December 23, 2013 § 17 Comments
Part 1 of many: Half Price Books in Dallas, TX (the second best bookstore, after Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI for SF I have ever come across). Gift card courtesy of fiancé’s mother = LOTS OF SCIENCE FICTION. There could not be a better gift….
Everyone reads Robert Zelazny’s This Immortal (1966) and Lord of Light (1967), but who has read Isle of the Dead (1969)? Thematically it seems similar to Lord of Light… I have high hopes. James White’s SF is always above average — and a fund cover from Dean Ellis makes that an auto-buy. Although I disliked David Gerrold’s Space Skimmer (1972) my father swears Yesterday’s Children (1972) is somewhat readable.
I enjoyed Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen (1980), tolerated her first novel The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), so I suspect her two novella collection Fireship (1978) will be worthwhile…
1. Isle of the Dead, Robert Zelazny (1969)
(Leo and Dianne Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
December 15, 2013 § 14 Comments
(Michael Booth’s cover for the 1984 edition)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
Suppose that one day man landed on some distant planet. Why would he have come, what impulse would have driven him across the darkness and the light-years? Could he explain, and would he even try? If he set out to explore that fearful world, if he trapped some specimens, what would he do if he were attacked by monstrous beings he could not understand? (135)
Chad Oliver is a well-known proponent of anthropological science fiction. John Clute (of SF encyclopedia) proclaims him “pioneer in the application of competent anthropological thought to sf themes.” Despite being relatively prolific between the 50s-70s (a handful of short stories appeared in the 80s), The Shores of Another Sea (1971) retains a distinctly 50s tone, « 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
(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 »
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 »