Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CI (Clarke + Bishop + Varley + Maclennan)

April 12, 2014 § 5 Comments

A nice range of SF authors/works!  A Michael Bishop collection containing many of his most famous 70s short stories for my upcoming guest post series….  And a SF juvenile written by Phyllis Maclennan with an intriguing premise (although, as always, I’m very dubious about juveniles in general).  John Varley’s famous novel Titan (1979) seems like a fascinating take on the Big Dumb Object trope. And finally a 50s adventure by the indomitable Arthur C. Clarke.

I am most intrigued by the Varley’s Titan and Bishop’s Blooded on Arachne.

Some of the covers are cringe inducing.

Thoughts?

1. Titan, John Varley (1979)

TTNRPPCRKF1979

(Ron Waltosky’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. C (Bishop + A. E. Van Vogt + Pangborn + Pratt)

April 5, 2014 § 9 Comments

Another Michael Bishop novel for my upcoming guest post series (announcement coming soon)!  Irresistible after the brilliant Stolen Faces (1977) and his masterpiece A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975)….

The rest are fun but not high on my list of must reads.  I’ve never been a fan of A. E. Van Vogt (could not tolerate the inarticulate labyrinth of a novel The World of Null-A) but the Powers cover on The War Against the Rull (1959) was fun.

I’ve heard good things about Edgar Pangborn, although people seldom discuss West of Eden (1953), perhaps with good reason.

Fletcher Pratt’s Invaders from Rigel (1932) is one of those AMAZING covers but incredibly dubious reads.  Even the back cover is rather non-sensical.

Thoughts?

1. Transfigurations, Michael Bishop (1979)

TRNSFGRTND1980

(Mike Hinge’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Stolen Faces, Michael Bishop (1977)

March 26, 2014 § 12 Comments

(Steve Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)

4.75/5 (Near Masterpiece)

“The growths beside her mouth moved like living tumors when she spoke.” (19)

There is nothing superfluous in Michael Bishop’s Stolen Faces (1977).  Like some nightmarish condensate that gathers into waiting cups, it induces hellish visions.  Metaphors and images of bodily decay, societal decadence, and strange rituals abound.  I suspect that the Bishop’s profoundly uncomfortable themes, deliberate plotting, and metaphorical/literary way of telling have prevented the novel from gaining a wider audience.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVIII (Lafferty + Zelazny + Zebrowski)

March 24, 2014 § 34 Comments

…a wonderful haul from Half Price Books.

More Lafftery (I will read Past Master soon, I promise)!

Two more Zelazny novels!

And a Zebrowski collection…

I love hearing your thoughts/comments.

1. Past Master, R. L. Lafferty (1968)

(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Existential Crisis

March 23, 2014 § 15 Comments

PRTNTRRRRM1968

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Operation Terror (1962), Murray Leinster)

Barry N. Malzberg’s depressed/depraved astronauts have inspired me to make a post! (unfortunately, the covers for his books do not really fit the bill).

Guy Billot’s cover for the 1975 edition of Brian Stableford’s Man in a Cage (1975) perfectly embodies the feel of existential crisis—man, hemmed in by a single red line, raises his arms against the star-studded sky in anguish.  The nature of the crisis is left oblique.  I have selected a variety of covers that convey—with varying degrees of success/precision—this same mental state.

I admit that some might not fit the bill exactly—for example, in the uncredited « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Billenium, J. G. Ballard (1962)

March 10, 2014 § 22 Comments

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

Billenium (1962), J. G. Ballard’s first collection of short stories, contains three masterpieces of the 50s/60s: “Billenium” (1961), “Build-Up” (variant title: The Concentration City) (1957), and “Chronopolis” (1960).  The first is a deadpan satire on overpopulation, the second a fantastic Borgesian depiction of an endless city that stretches (literally) in all directions, and the third a vision of a city that had enough and revolted against time.  I preferred these three ruminations, that unfolded in evocative and decaying urban spaces, to the three decadent and baroque stories—”Studio 5, The Stars” (1961), “Mobile” (variant title: “Venus Smiles”) (1957), and “Prima Belladonna” (1956)—from his famous Vermillion Sands sequence.  The remaining four are all readable.

As with J. G. Ballard’s first novel masterpiece, The Drowned World (1962), the sense of decay and malaise that permeate majority of the stories in Billenium is gorgeously « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCV (Ballard + Butler + Brunner + Schmidt)

March 4, 2014 § 17 Comments

I must confess, I’ve never read an Octavia Butler novel…  I now own one and will read it soon.  More Ballard!  More Brunner (a review of his 1969 masterpiece The Jagged Orbit is coming soon)! And a complete mystery, I mean, who besides Tarbandu over at The PorPor Books Blog has read Newton and the Quasi-Apple (1975) by Stanley Schmidt?

Thoughts?

1. The Voices of Time, J. G. Ballard (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Margaret and I, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

March 2, 2014 § 16 Comments

(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1972 Nebula Award for Best Novel

The grayness swirled and became solid, a plain that was featureless at first, then with grotesque shapes emerging from it, obviously things growing, but things that shouldn’t have been.  They looked like monstrous scabs, like leprous fingers curled obscenely in an attitude of prayer, like parts of bodies covered with a fungus or mold, misshapen and horrible” (73).

Margaret and I (1971) is a profoundly unsettling and hallucinatory exploration of a woman’s sexual and emotional self-realization.  Or, to use the Jungian terms deployed by Wilhelm in her preliminary quotation, the novel charts the process of individuation where the conscious and unconscious “learn to know, respect and accommodate « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Visualizing Time, Part II (time travel + sundials + the decay of eternity + time portals)

March 1, 2014 § 12 Comments

11_1953_07_fantasticsty_walterpopp

(Walter Popp’s cover for the 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine, ed. Samuel Mines)

It has been along time since I cobbled together a cover art post…

…but it’s a good one!

This is Part II of my Visualizing Time sequence—if you haven’t seen it already check out Part I.  And in Part II we have a standoff across time with your primitive ancestors, decay and the hourglass, rewriting America’s racist past, the sundial as an arena for an epic showdown with an alien, jumping through cave paintings (a metaphor « Read the rest of this entry »

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