Tag Archives: apocalyptic

Updates: Recent Fantasy Acquisitions No. I (Hoban + Peake + Eddison)

Something different!

I have always had a soft sport for fantasy (mostly the non-Tolkein ripoff type) à la Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan (1946), Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane (1977), Jeff VanderMeer’s Shriek: An Afterword (2006).  Yes, as a kid I read tons of “standard fanasy” i.e. almost all those horrid Wheel of Time novels + Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow & Thorn  sequence, etc. etc.  And then I discovered SF and my reading parterns shifted drastically….

Over the past few months I’ve collected the two sequels to Titus Groan and a few Russell Hoban novels—my site name Joachim Boaz is  partially derived from Hoban’s remarkable The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973).

I’m not sure if I’ll review these novels here but, I might read Peake’s Gormenghast (1950) soon.

Thoughts?

1. Pilgermann, Russell Hoban (1983)

(Rowena’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CX (Kornbluth + Pohl + Cowper + Hersey + Asimov anthology of short SF)

A nice batch—some more from the $1 hardback sale at my local bookstore, one procured via abebooks, and one from a friend.  I grabbed Cowper’s The Road to Corlay (1978) after seeing two solid reviews from my friends at Speculiction… [review here] and Porpourri of Science Fiction Literature [review here].  I enjoyed Cowper’s later  novel Profundis (1979).

I had no idea the Pulitzer-winning writer and journalist John Hersey from dystopic SF allegories…

And, a collection of early work from the fruitful partnership of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth…  With a gorgeous Richard Powers cover!

I’ve always enjoyed really short SF stories so I look forward to devouring Asimov and Conklin collection (perhaps in stages due to its length).

Enjoy the covers!

Thoughts?

1. The Wonder Effect, C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Indoctrinaire, Christopher Priest (1970)

(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (Slightly Above Average)

“There is an element of terror in any natural object that does not exist in its proper place. Wentik experienced the full force of this as he stood in the dark. A hand grows from a table, and an ear from a wall. A maze is constructed to sophisticated mathematical formula, yet is housed in a tumbledown shack. A minor official terrorizes me, and a man tries to fly a helicopter without vanes. Land exist in future time, through I feel and believe instinctively that I am in the present. What else will this place do to me? (83)”

Christopher Priest’s first novel Indoctrinaire (1970) explores the mystery of a vast perfectly round plain with a series of strange buildings that appears in the middle of the Amazonian jungle.  Seemingly displaced in time, the transformed landscape is not only a visible sign of the ecological transformation the world will undergo but also, less visibly, the unseen but pernicious scars 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

Book Review: The Very Slow Time Machine, Ian Watson (1979)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

My first exposure to Ian Watson’s extensive SF catalog could not have been more impressive.  The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) is up there with Robert Sheckley’s Store of Infinity (1960) and J. G. Ballard’s Billenium (1962) as the best overall collection of stories that I have encountered in the history of this site.

The collection is filled with narrative experimentation (“Programmed Loved Story,” “Agoraphobia, A.D. 2000,” etc), some awe inspiring ideas (“The Very Slow Time Machine,” “The Girl Who Was Art” etc.), a few delightful allegories (“Our Loves So Truly Meridional,” “My Soul Swims in a Goldfish Bowl”), and a handful of more traditional SF stories that hint at anthropological Continue reading

Book Review: Sign of the Labrys, Margaret St. Clair (1963)

(William George’s cover for the 1963 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

Margaret St. Clair was one of a handful of prolific women SF authors who started publishing short fiction in the late 40s—her first SF story was “Rocket to Limbo” for the November 1946 issue of Fantastic Adventures.  From the late 50s to the early 70s she published eight slim novels, mostly Ace Doubles (paired with authors such as Philip K. Dick and Kenneth Blulmer).  Regardless of her earlier publishing prowess—by the publication date of Sign of the Labrys (1963) she had four novels in print and somewhere around 125 short stories—Bantam Books felt the need to include the following back cover:

“WOMEN ARE WRITING SCIENCE-FICTION!

ORIGINAL! BRILLIANT!! DAZZLING!!!

Women are closer to the primitive than men.  They are conscious of the moon-pulls, the earth-tides.  They possess a buried memory of humankind’s obscure and ancient past which can emerge to uniquely color and flavor a novel.  Such a woman is Margaret St. Clair, author of this novel.  Such a novel is this, SIGN OF THE LABRYS, the story of a doomed world of the future, saved by recourse to ageless, immemorial rites…

FRESH! IMAGINATIVE!! INVENTIVE!!!”

Unfortunately, Sign of the Labrys is a disappointing read.   The post-plague world is dark and creepy and for the first half an uncanny (palpable) tension permeates.  But, ultimately the fantastic setting, revisionist stance on the normal pulp gender dynamics, are weakened by a disjointed (verging on amateur) narrative filled with Wiccan “craft” practices and references.  As other reviewers have pointed out, one could easily substitute the Wicca magic with the pulp SF staple “psi-power” and I agree Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIV (Yarbro + Priest + Farmer + Malzberg)

Ann Arbor’s Dawn Treader Book Store contains the best used SF collection I have encountered in my perambulations (fortunately, I live far away or else I would empty my bank account).  Prepare for its manifold and manifest joys (multiple parts over the next month or so)!

What a haul!  I have yet to read a Chelsea Quinn Yarbro novel—this one is her most famous work so I look forward to it despite the creepy wolf/man with blood on the cover.  Also, Farmer has somewhat redeemed himself in my eyes with Strange Relations (1960)—thus, the metafictional account of a man who recreates the Burrough’s Tarzan tales sounds like an experimental New Wave SF novel right up my alley.

As does Christopher Priest’s Indoctrinaire (1970)…  I think I will read this one before I tackle Inverted World (1974) that I acquired a while back but never felt like reading.

And, I bought FOUR novels by one of my favorite authors, Barry N. Malzberg—the first is On a Planet Alien (1974).  Will read this one soon.

Thoughts?  Have you read any of the novels?

1. False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)

(Gary Friedman’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Juniper Time, Kate Wilhelm (1979)

(Bob Aulicino’s cover for the hideous 1979 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1980 Nebula Award

“Everything that is, Robert had said, must be.  Every cycle must be completed, must lead to the next cycle.  He had talked about times when the desert had been drier than it now was, times when it had been lush and wet, and there had been no questions in his mind that this too must be” (170-171).

At the heart of Kate Wilhelm’s Nebula-nominated novel Juniper Time (1979) is the notion of historical cyclicality at both the macro- (earth cycles) and the micro- (human historical time) levels.  The near future mysteriously drought stricken world where Wilhelm is an important juncture of two such cycles.  The macrocycle concerns devastating world-wide desertification, which is most caused by a natural cycle but the precise nature of which is unknown.  The microcycle concerns a shift in human populations in the drought stricken countries: mass migrations towards coasts as the springs and rivers of the hinterlands turn to mud.  In this world the farmer, in the past linked tightly to his fields, abandons his traditional position in American society and moves to a cluttered and violent state Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)

A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).

Enjoy!

1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)

FTRWRLDSCL1968

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation.  This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia.  All life should have perished millions of years ago.  But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death.  Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” Continue reading