Tag Archives: avant-garde

Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series

Long-Tomorrow dune

The Gollancz Masterwork series [list] ranges from famous novels such as Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to lesser known short story collections such as The Caltraps of Time (1968) by David I. Masson.  The Masterwork series has the power to introduce readers to the canonical “best of SF” and works that should be considered classics.  Many of the second group have not seen print for decades.  Although I have some qualms about certain inclusions, I was genuinely blown away that they recently chose one of my favorite novels The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) by D. G. Compton—an underread and unjustly forgotten author.

Over the course of the next week or so a handful of my fellow SF bloggers (most of whom have a focus on earlier SF) will release lists on their sites of SF they would like to see featured by Gollancz.  I have not given them any guidelines so the lists should be varied and hopefully will generate some discussion.  I highly recommend you head over to their sites (I will post the links as they come in) and comment.

Thoughts + comments are always welcome (as well as your own lists!).

More “What to Include in the Gollancz Masterwork Series” Lists (blog friends)

Chris over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, and Creased 

Megan over at From Couch to Moon

2theD over at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature

Ian Sales over at It Doesn’t Have to be Right…

Jesse over at Speculiction…

My guidelines for inclusion

1. My frequent readers know that I prefer (passionately) SF from the 50s-70s Continue reading Updates: My Top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series

Book Review: Nebula Award Stories Six, ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971)

(Wilson McLean’s cover for the 1972 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

1970 was a wonderful year for short SF.  Nebula Award Stories Six ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971) contains a selection Nebula-nominated and winning works from the three short fiction award categories: three novelettes, three short stories, and one novella.  The novelette and novella winners are included.  No short story award was given out although Gene Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” (1970) deserved to win.  I apologize in advance, I hold no love for sword-and-fantasy—the great appeal that Fritz Leiber’s “Ill Met in Lankhmar” (1970) conjures for readers is lost on me.

I was also impressed by the two “second tier” authors in the collection: Harry Harrison and Keith Laumer.  Both of their efforts were mature and evocative.  Although, Joanna Russ’ “The Second Inquisition” (1970) blows them out of Continue reading Book Review: Nebula Award Stories Six, ed. Clifford D. Simak (1971)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)

New books!  At one point in time I had a copy of Frank Herbert’s great Destination: Void (1966).  However, it wasn’t the original 1966 version but a rewrite from the late 70s.  Generally I prefer reading the first published versions (unless they were serialized in magazines) so I was desperate to get my hands on a copy.

More Sladek!   The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) is his best known novel.  SF aficionados of the 60s/70s often describe Saldek as one of the unsung comedic/satirical greats.  I’ve read his first novel a while back, The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm) (1968) and had a lukewarm reaction.   I will definitely pick up The Müller-Fokker Effect before the year is out.

Margaret St. Clair’s Sign of the Labrys (1963) has proved to be one of the worst books I’ve read this year.  But, I will give her short stories, the the collection Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974). another chance.

2theD at PotPourri of Science Fiction Literature send me Douglas R. Mason’s The Resurrection of Roger Diment (1972) a while back.  Mason’s The Eight Against Utopia (1966) was downright dismal so I’m not sure when I’ll get to this one.

Thoughts?

1. Destination: Void, Frank Herbert (1966)

(Uncredited—looks somewhat like Di Fate?—cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIX (Sladek + St. Clair + Herbert + Mason)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVIII (Anthologies: Again Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2, Orbit 8; Schmitz, Malzberg)

Nearing the end of my undocumented purchases… A great series of coves — including Richard Powers and Paul Lehr.  Again, Dangerous Visions Vol. 2 (1972) (did not realize it was in two volumes, but alas) and another Malzberg novel, The Last Transaction (1977) to add to my nearly complete collection of his solo written novels.

Thoughts?

1. The Eternal Frontiers, James H. Schmitz (1973)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVIII (Anthologies: Again Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2, Orbit 8; Schmitz, Malzberg)

Book Review: The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde, Norman Spinrad (1970)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1970 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

A solid collection of seventeen short stories and one novelette by one of my favorite New Wave authors, Norman Spinrad.  Although the collection seldom reaches the heights of his inventive and original alt-history novel The Iron Dream (1972)The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (1970) is still a wonderful showcase of his earliest short fiction. However, Spinrad’s relentlessly bleak outlook on Earth’s future will not appeal to all SF readers.  I only recommend the collection for fans of experimental late 60s SF, the New Wave movement, and bleak satires of societal ills (count me in!).

The best include: “Technicality” (1966), a war against pacifist aliens who wield horrific but non-lethal weapons; “The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde” (1969), an absurdist pastiche of the bastardization of ideology and societal decadence; and “Dead Continue reading Book Review: The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde, Norman Spinrad (1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVII (Lafferty + Malzberg + Cowper + Anthology)

A strange bunch….

Another Barry N. Malzberg novel—Chorale (1978)—to add to my nearly complete collection of his SF novels + short story collections.

Another Richard Cowper novel—purchased months ago mainly due to the gorgeous Paul Lehr cover.  The whimsical subject matter of the work unfortunately does not match the profound and surreal stillness of Lehr’s vision.

A short story collection containing a nice range of nebula-nominated (and winning) short SF from 1970: Sturgeon, Laumer, Wolfe, Fritz Leiber, Lafferty, Harrison, Russ.

And finally what is supposedly one of Lafferty’s oddest experiments: Annals of Klepsis (1983).

Thoughts?

1. Phoenix, Richard Cowper (1968)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXVII (Lafferty + Malzberg + Cowper + Anthology)

Book Review: Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1973 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Naomi Mitchison’s first science fiction novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), is a brilliant episodic rumination on the nature of non-violent interaction with alien species that challenge (and transform) conceptions of ourselves and others.  Although R. S. Lonati’s cover for the 1964 Four Square edition suggests a pulp adventure—replete with flashy spaceships, explosions, and traditional adventure—Memoirs is cut from an altogether different cloth.

The first sentence of the novel narrows in on Mitchison’s central themes:

“I think about my friends and the fathers of my children.  I think about my children, and I think less about my four dear normals than I think about Viola.  And I think about Ariel.  And the other.  I wonder sometimes how old  would be if I counted the years of time blackout during exploration (5).”

Continue reading Book Review: Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)