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 »
Book Review: And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons), Michael Bishop (1976)
November 19, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Jonathan Weld’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Michael Bishop’s And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons) (1976) is a melancholic and allegorically inclined parable about a coming cataclysm that threatens a programmed and hierarchically rigid society (accomplished via genetic modification). Bishop’s voice is an intensely humanistic once, futuristic technology is present but not a central concern…. The simple but effective plot is the perfect vehicle for his moralistic ruminations: a man forced into action, a world compelled — despite the external forces at play — to adapt.
And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees is the first of Michael Bishop’s works I have read and I am definitely intrigued enough to place his supposedly superior Nebula-nominated first novel, Funeral for the « 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 »
November 13, 2013 § 19 Comments
Bargain bins yield some Clarke and Asimov classics I read when I was a teen but never owned…. I remember thinking at the time that Imperial Earth (1975) was one of Clarke’s best novels. Dickson’s Dorsai! (1960) — I’ve never been a fan of military SF — is a classic I need to get around to reading. And, my final find was Richard Cowper’s Time Out of Mind (1973). I was surprisingly impressed with his lighthearted romp of a novel, Profundis (1979).
Thoughts on the books?
1. Time Out of Mind, Richard Cowper (1973)
(Don Maitz’s cover for the 1981 edition)
From the back cover: “As a young boy, Laurie Linton encountered a strange apparition: a ghostly man who urgently mouthed a message: KILL MAGOBION! Years later, as members of the UN Narcotics Security Agency, Linton and the beautiful Carol Kennedy were assigned a special duty: investigation of a mysterious drug which endowed its addicts with superhuman powers. « Read the rest of this entry »
November 9, 2013 § 20 Comments
A nice haul from the local used book store and various internet sources…. After Effinger’s masterpiece What Entropy Means to Me (1972) I was desperate to get my hands on another one of his novels (or short story collections — Relatives is not supposed to be as good but, perhaps it will prove the critics (well, namely John Clute) wrong.
Miriam Allen deFord was a prolific 50s short story writer. Xenogenesis (1969) is the only published collection solely of her stories — thankfully it’s graced with a wonderful Richard Powers cover.
Despite the hideous cover, Michael Bishop’s first novel A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975) is generally considered quite good. I’ve already read and reviewed Dan Morgan’s average but inventive SF thriller Inside (1971) but included it in this post anyway because I had yet to reach my four new acquisitions for a post.
Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?
1. Relatives, George Alec Effinger (1973)
(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2013 § 12 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1974 edition)
Dan Morgan’s output appears to have been mostly forgotten even by the most dedicated fans of the genre. And unfortunately, no collections of his short stories (he published around 40) were released in his lifetime. John Clute’s assessment of his work — “Though he was not a powerful writer, and though he never transcended the US action-tale conventions to which he was so clearly indebted, it is all the same surprising that Morgan has been ignored” — rings true in regards to the sole novel of his I have read, Inside (1971).
Inside is a tightly-plotted action tale that plays out layered (almost painfully entropic) levels of delusion. The neatly packaged premise never goes beyond the strictures « Read the rest of this entry »
October 31, 2013 § 21 Comments
(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1979 edition of The Moment of Eclipse (1970), Brian Aldiss)
Make sure to take a peek at Part I if you enjoyed this collection!
In Part I I described how I was inspired by Ed Valigursky’s stunning and powerful cover — with its giant eye, running figures, and perspective lines drawn across the artificial field heightening the tension — to look through my image collection and find similar examples. Since I made the last post I’ve collected quite a few more examples (from my own collection and image collections online) along similar lines.
Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1958 edition of The Big Eye (1949) by Max Ehrlich has long been one of my favorite covers and it has cropped up in various posts over the years…. The uncredited cover for the 1969 edition of The Cosmic Eye « Read the rest of this entry »
October 16, 2013 § 37 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition of Cosmic Engineers (1939), Clifford D. Simak)
The theme of this post is the future metropolis as canvas where the entire surface of the cover is arrayed and ordered by the forms and forces of the city. The city as a matrix that holds the scene unfolding amongst its spires… Richard Powers’ masterful cover for the 1969 edition of Cosmic Engineers is the perfect example. The mass of the buildings arch, indistinct, upward — causeways and platforms amongst the cityscape hold faceless humanoid forms that “look” « Read the rest of this entry »
Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIII (Aldiss + Nourse + Biggle, Jr. + Levy + Coleman)
October 2, 2013 § 18 Comments
Three of the five books have been on my to acquire list for long time. I adore Brian Aldiss’ early work (Non-Stop is one of my favorite SF novels) so I snatched up Starswarm (1964) without a moment’s hesitation. Lloyd Biggle, Jr. writes very unusual (not sure if it’s good) SF — The Light That Never Was (1972) certainly had potential despite its flaws. Regardless, The World Menders (1971) is supposedly his best work (despite the egregious Freas cover it was “graced” with). After reading some good reviews of some of Alan E. Nourse’s 1950s medical themed stories, I’ve been looking for a copy of the fix-up novel The Mercy Men (1955). The remaining two novels in this post were in the 50 cent clearance section — both have stunning covers (Powers + Lehr) and are probably absolutely atrocious reads.
1. Starswarm, Brian Aldiss (1964)
(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »