September 24, 2013 § 14 Comments
Part 2 of 5 acquisition posts covering my massive haul from Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor Michigan…. I suspect that if I lived nearby I’d slowly migrate their entire SF collection to my shelves. Two books below are by unknown authors (or at least to me) — Charles Runyon and D. Keith Mano. Runyon is supposedly average to bad (one of my risk buys) while Mano polarizes readers — he tends to be rather right wing in his views so it’ll be intriguing to see what he does with the dystopic future in The Bridge (1973). But, as with Runyon my expectations are low.
On the other hand, Malzberg’s The Men Inside (1971) seems to be one of his stranger works — I look forward to it. And despite how well-known Michael Bishop is I’ve yet to read any of his works so I’ll be reading Beneath the Shattered Moons (1976) soon.
1. The Men Inside, Barry N. Malzberg (1971)
(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1971 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
September 23, 2013 § 19 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)
4/5 (Collated rating: Good)
My only previous exposure to Fritz Leiber was his enjoyable and highly experimental Hugo-winning novel The Big Time (1958) — an unusual story (evoking a one-act play) whose characters are soldiers recruited from all eras of history relaxing in between missions during a vast temporal war. The same sort of invention and incisive wit abounds in the collection A Pail of Air (1951). Against a post-apocalyptical backdrop that runs throughout most of the stories, Leiber’s stories are chimeric (and satirical) parables on a vast spectrum of themes — the mechanization of the future, gender relations, endless war, media saturation… The stories shift between whimsical delight and gut-wrenching despair.
This collection of eleven stories from the early 50s to the early 60s is highly recommended for all SF fans — especially the title story ”A Pail of Air” (1951), ”The Foxholes of Mars” (1952), « Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2013 § 18 Comments
There is no better book store for used SF in the US (that I have been to) than Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan…. Thankfully, I made the pilgrimage for an altogether different purpose — I delivered a paper at a conference at the University of Michigan — but couldn’t help but spend a while amongst the heavenly stacks (well for a SF fanatic). This is part 1 of 5 acquisition posts which will showcase the bounty I procured. And there were probably close to 80 other books I wanted. Alas.
So, what have we here? One of Lafferty’s most famous novels — nebula nominated Fourth Mansions (1969). I’ve only read his shorter work so I’ll be devouring this one soon. More Sheckley for one can never have enough of his biting, wonderful, and hilariously satirical short stories. A straight-forward space opera by Brian N. Ball (yes, I know, not normally my cup of tea) on recommendation from Mike at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature… And a somewhat more risky purchase, A. M. Lightner’s The Day of the Drones (1969) — this work of social SF is supposedly her most mature work (she tended to write for the young adult audience) but it was still edited for publication to be suitable for younger readers. Despite the socially relevant theme, I suspect it will come off as rather corny/undeveloped.
1. Fourth Mansions, R. A. Lafferty (1969)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
September 16, 2013 § 14 Comments
(Earle Bergey’s cover for the February 1953 issue of Science Fiction Adventures, ed. Philip St. John — i.e. Lester del Rey)
Make sure to take a peek at Part I if you haven’t already.
Crashed spaceships! Our heroes forced to trek across desolate landscapes, fight giant robots, and evil aliens…. Or, aliens stumble from the wreckage of their flying saucers — unusual green matter emanates while the flames reach ever upward. I suspect that if I were a kid in the era of pulp SF magazines I would have snatched everyone with a crashed spaceship regardless of the often dubious contents.
I am generally no fan of Kelly Freas but his cover for the July 1957 issue of Science Fiction Stories, is one of my favorite action/adventure type SF covers. Unusual aliens on the back of a massive turtle alien swimming through lava « Read the rest of this entry »
August 28, 2013 § 23 Comments
(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1972 edition)
Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999), most famous for her Arthurian fantasy novel Mists of Avalon (1983) from late in her career, published countless SF works starting in the late 1940s. Her first novel The Planet Savers (1958) introduced readers to the massive and complex Darkover sequence of works — by far her most famous and iconic contribution to SF.
Darkover Landfall (1972) is a somewhat routine adventure (with a good dose of social commentary) which, according to internal chronology, is the beginning of the vast Darkover series. Although I cannot speak for the rest of the sequence as this is the first of Bradley’s novels I’ve read, I found Darkover Landfall a problematic and « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Spacewomen of the Future (flying spaceships + exploring alien landscapes + delivering galactic mail), Part II
August 27, 2013 § 23 Comments
(Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the February 1953 issue of Space Stories, ed. Samuel Mines)
Part II of my Spacewomen of the Future series – Part I.
In my first installment I discussed the stereotype of the 40s/50s SF pulp heroine — for example, she shrieks at the evil alien while the man has to rescue her or despite her education, she spends her time serving the men coffee on the spaceship (there’s a cringeworthy scene along these lines in It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958), dir. Edward L. Cahn). Hopefully these cover art depictions will complicate the stereotype. Of course, I have not read all the contents of magazines/novels bellow so I can not speak for the portrayals within the texts. In the stories they could potentially be astronauts in the service, scientists, civilian love interests, colonists, partners of the male astronauts, etc…
I have somewhat arbitrarily decided for thematic reasons that “Spacewomen” is a woman in a space uniform of the future or « Read the rest of this entry »
August 23, 2013 § 19 Comments
Unlike other acquisition posts where I post the most palatable finds from the shelves of a local used book store, this one contains books that I have wanted to own for a long time and finally gave in and bought online — more Kit Reed (after her wonderful collection 1967 Mister Da V. which I recently reviewed), a novel by one of the great (and underread and probably underrated) SF satirists — John T. Sladek — of the 60s/70s, Piers Anthony’s early New Wave experimental work, and Vondra N. McIntrye’s first novel.
A quick non-scientific poll of my fellow reviewers on twitter (if you are so inclined, follow me!) showed that few had read Sladek’s work recently… Is it time for a mini-Renaissance of his works?
Some fun covers, great authors — these will be read soon…. Unlike the other 300+ works in my too read pile.
1. The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm), John T. Sladek (1968)
(Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for the « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Future Archaeology and Mysterious Artifacts (Alien + Human)
August 1, 2013 § 21 Comments
(Hannes Bok’s cover for the Space Science Fiction [UK], Volume 1 No. 4 (1953), ed. unlisted)
A spaceship arrives on Mars… After a cursory initial exploration, the human astronauts conclude that the planet has always been barren and uninhabited. But in some chasm or scattered in desolate plain, a column is found, and rows of mysterious buildings, and a pulsating crystal… An abandoned outpost of an alien society? Or, Earth’s mysterious forebearers… Summaries such as this one proliferate the dusty SF paperbacks on back shelves of used book stores and the closets of SF fans — the variations are countless.
Queue my cover art theme: The future discovery of mysterious ruins/artifacts « Read the rest of this entry »
July 26, 2013 § 28 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
I have long been a fan of Poul Anderson’s functionalist yet engaging SF adventures. He is one of the masters at integrating social commentary (often on the impact of future technology) into the framework of the early Cold War influenced SF story without unduly weighing it down. Brain Wave (1954) is a good example of both his virtues and faults.
Brain Wave in a nutshell: a fascinating premise, a somewhat frustrating ending, dubious social commentary, while the incredibly brief length (even for the 50s) and uneven pacing suggest heavy cuts by editor… That said, I suspect other famous works — such as the Daniel Keyes’ Flowers of Algernon (novelette: 1959, novel: 1966) and perhaps even « Read the rest of this entry »