Tag Archives: aliens

Book Review: The Worlds of Frank Herbert, Frank Herbert (1970)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (Collated rating: Vaguely Good)

I have long been a fan of Frank Herbert.   In my youth I scarfed down Dune (1965) and all its sequels and cried (metaphorically) when his son Brian Herbert made  a mockery of his vision.  I even read the more dubious novels in Herbert’s canon: from The Green Brain (1966) to the co-written (with Bill-Ransom)  novels of the Pandora sequence i.e. The Jesus Incident (1979), The Lazarus Effect (1983), and The Ascension Factor (1988).  I have found many of his non-Dune novels worth reading (Destination: Void (1966) and The Dosadi Experiment (1977), etc).

More recently I have started to read/review the handful of his novels I missed as a child—so far the solid and unexpectedly complex The Eyes of Heisenberg (1966) and the lesser Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Skull (connected to mysterious contraptions + looming above all + the moon mutated)

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(Richard Weaver’s cover for the 1972 edition of Dreadful Sanctuary (1948), Eric Frank Russell)

THE SKULL. The bones of the dead, the empty sockets gazing at us, a deathly gaze….  I have collected for your [horror filled] enjoyment a vast variety of SF skulls: the moon mutated into a skull, the half-skinned skull as part of mysterious contraptions, photographs of real human skulls interspersed with statuary and wigs, bizarre pink skulls pulsating with green radiation-esque Continue reading

Book Review: Three Novels (variant title: Natural State and Other Short Stories), Damon Knight (1967)

(Alan Peckolick’s cover for the 1967 edition)

3/5 (Collated Rating: Average)

Damon Knight’s Beyond the Barrier (1964) was so egregious that I have stayed away from his work until recently.  Around a year ago I acquired Three Novels (1969)—containing the two novellas “Rule Golden” (1954) and “Natural State” (1951) and one novelette “The Dying Man” (variant title: Dio”) (1951)—in order to start my reappraisal of the supposed Grand Master of the genre.  I have his collection Far Out (1961) and his novel A For Anything (variant title: The People Maker) (1959) on my shelf.

Although this selection of his 50s short fiction is far superior to Beyond the Barrier only one of the stories made any lasting impression: the philosophical and ruminative immortality themed tale, “The Dying Man.”  With that in mind it might be worth tracking it down in another place of publication, for example the thematic multi-author collection Immortals (1998) ed. Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.   There is a chance that the other two novellas in Three Novels will satisfy fans of Knight’s Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVIII (Malzberg + Bishop + Sheckley + White)

What a haul!  Three are from numerous previous expeditions to choice used book havens….  And I caved in and bought Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple (1974) on abebooks because his seldom reprinted works are hard to find.

Sheckley’s Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962) is near the top of my reading list.  Supposedly one of his best.

And, who can resist Michael Bishop’s magnum opus, No Enemy But Time (1982)?!?

And James White is always solid…

Thoughts?  Anything particularly worth reading?

1. The Destruction of the Temple, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Centauri Device, M. John Harrison (1974)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1980 edition)

4/5 (Good)

I can only imagine the shock that readers received and still receive (according to amazon reviews) after diving into M. John Harrison’s The Centauri Device (1974) expecting a standard space opera.  This is a subgenre where the anti-hero still has not found a firm place to roost…  You know the rubric: Empathizing with the hero.  Positivism.  Saving the world.  The good guys win.

I suspect the shock to the system that Stephen R. Donaldson’s leprous and bitter (and reluctant) savior Thomas Covenant in Lord Foul’s Bane (1977) and subsequent novels had on high fantasy was something akin to impact The Centauri Device‘s drug-addled, inarticulate, and passive spacer Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVII (Anthology: Galactic Empires, vol 1 and 2 + Holdstock + Watson)

Snatched all but one of these up at a 1$ SF hardback clearance sale at my local bookstore.  The other, Watson’s The Jonah Kit (1976) came via The Dawn Treader Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI.

I am not usually interested in Galactic Empires but the collection seems to have some intriguing short authors—for example, Lafferty, Davidson, Shaara, etc whose works I have no been that exposed to.  I look forward to slowly working my way through both volumes.

I also acquired my first Robert Holdstock novel, Where Time Winds Blow (1981).  Seems intriguing.

My schedule has finally calmed down a little so expect a slew of book reviews in the coming days/weeks…

Thoughts?

1. Galactic Empires, Volume I, ed. Brian Aldiss (1976)

GLCTCMPRSV1978

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVI (Malzberg + Laumer + Sargent + Russell)

A few more wonderful acquisitions from my pilgrimage to Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI from month or so ago.

More Malzberg!  And thankfully, one of the few really solid covers to grace his extensive oeuvre.  I read Sargent’s novel Cloned Lives (1976) recently and was disappointed.  Hopefully her short story collection Starshadows (1977) is more my cup of tea.

A 50s “classic” by Erin Frank Russell…

And a collection of short works on time travel by Keith Laumer….  Could not resist the early Di Fate cover which I have featured in art posts before.

Thoughts?

1. Timetracks, Keith Laumer (1972)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Josh Kirby’s Astronauts (1957-1976)

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(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968), John Sladek)

It has been too long since I collated a cover art post…  I have a love hate relationship with Josh Kirby’s work.  He tends to be on the comedic side, for example, he provided covers for a large percentage of Ron Goulart’s DAW titles (The Wicked Cyborg, etc) and Prachett’s Discworld novels.

However, for a brief window of time in the 60s and 70s he produced some gorgeously surreal depictions of astronauts and and astronaut transformations.  His cover for the 1970 edition of The Reproductive System (variant Continue reading

Guest Post: “Allegiances,” Michael Bishop (1975)

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(Jack Guaghan’s cover for the February 1975 issue of Galaxy, where “Allegiances” was first published)

The tenth and final (at least for now) installment in my guest post series on the science fiction of Michael Bishop comes via Peter S. a longtime commentator on my site.  He should start his own SF review site….  His comments (and this review) are greatly appreciated!

He selected the novella “Allegiances” (1975) from the anthology The 1976 Annual World’s Best SF (1976), ed. Donald A. Wollheim he owned (image below)–DOMED CITIES!

The novella was included in Catacomb Years (1979) reviewed by 2thD recently.

Thanks everyone for a successful series.  All the comments and contributions are greatly appreciated.  I have more plans along these lines for the future!

~

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“Allegiances” (1975) — Michael Bishop

Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1976 edition of The 1976 Annual World’s Best SF (1976), ed. Donald A. Wollheim

When I come across a Science Fiction anthology, I first check the contents to see if there is anything unusual such as a story by a favorite author that I have not seen before, or maybe a lost gem from an author I was not previously aware of. I also check to see who the editor is, since each editor has their own distinctive way of putting together a collection.

My impression of the many anthologies that Donald Wollheim (1914 – 1990) worked on is that they are always of interest. I expect the majority of the stories in any given collection to be very good, most will be mainstream Hard Science Fiction Continue reading