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 »
October 6, 2013 § 16 Comments
Part 5 of 5 acquisitions posts covering my haul from Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve saved some good ones for the end — namely, Mark S. Geston’s Out of the Mouth of the Dragon (1969). I’ve previously reviewed his first novel — Lords of the Starship (1967) — which was a relentlessly dark vision that showed great promise. Besides the work of Stanislaw Lem, I know very little about non-English language SF so I snatched up a copy of Rene Barjavel’s Future Times Three (1944). According to some critics, his treatment of time travel proved profoundly influential.
The other two novels are somewhat bigger risks. Brian N. Malzberg’s The Empty People (1969), written under his pseudonym K. M. O’Donnell, is one of his first SF novels and supposedly quite average. And, Piers Anthony’s Macroscope (1969) strikes me as a rather bloated, pseudo-spiritual, New Wave extravaganza (but not in a good way) — we’ll just have to see.
1. Out of the Mouth of the Dragon, Mark S. Geston (1969)
(John Schoenherr’s cover for the 1969 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
May 19, 2013 § 43 Comments
Here are my seven favorite metafictional science fiction novels. By metafiction I’m referring to devices such as breaking the fourth wall (characters addressing the audience), the author addressing the reader, a story about a writer writing a story, a story containing another work of fiction within it, a work where the narrator reveals himself or herself as the author of the story, narrative footnotes, etc….
I’d love to hear your favorites (they don’t have to be novels)!
Obviously, these types of experimental works only appeal to some readers (especially fans of the sci-fi New Wave movement of the late 60s and early 70s) but I personally love seeing experimentation in an often — dare I say — stylistically stale genre. Often, the metafictional aspects do not prevent authors from deploying traditional narratives.
My top seven (and an honorable mention):
1. Beyond Apollo, Brian N. Malzberg (1972) (REVIEW) — what you read is most likely the novel written by the main character. However, he’s most likely insane so attempting to get AT the true nature of his voyage to Venus is purposefully layered… Complicating the matter is how unreliable of a narrator he is and the fact that he’s tells many versions of the same story. Malzberg pokes fun at pulp science fiction throughout — which he clearly enjoyed as a child.
2. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (1968) — the metafictional aspects are rather hidden in this New Wave masterpiece (my single favorite sci-fi novel). Brunner’s vast (in scope and depth) mosaic of invented book fragments, advertising jingles, and narrative portions are interspersed with news articles taken from his own day — including the school shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. Of course, as readers we’re geared to imagining that everything « Read the rest of this entry »
April 8, 2013 § 19 Comments
On the cross, a future prophet (or false one)? A martyr for a lost cause? Or, some future priestly emissary of the Catholic church dispensing law on those gathered…. Perhaps some transformation of man to a godly state all hallowed and arrayed with religious accouterments of faith? I’ve gathered a fun collection of science fiction prophets mostly decked out / depicted in distinctly Christian style.
My favorite is Robert Foster’s cover for the 1970 edition of Behold the Man (1969) by Michael Moorcock…. And Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1970 edition of This Immortal (variant title: And Call Me Conrad) (1965) contains a fascinating color scheme — although there isn’t any mold on the figure’s face as Zelazny « Read the rest of this entry »
March 1, 2013 § 24 Comments
I love the idea of a community of science fiction reviewers — so I’ve put together a list of a handful of book review blogs focused on classic/slightly more esoteric science fiction. Obviously there are plenty of great blogs I’ve omitted that have reviews of new releases or only occasional vintage science fiction…. Or, blogs that refrain from reviews of vintage science fiction unless participating in certain reading challenges….
Please visit them, comment on their reviews, and browse through their back catalogues.
1] Speculiction….: An under visited /commented on blog with quality book reviews of classic science fiction — however, the reviewer, Jesse, is limited by the lack of older science fiction available to him in Poland. I especially enjoyed his reviews of Ballard’s “beautifully strange enigma” that is The Crystal World (1966) and of course, my favorite science fiction novel of all time, John Brunner’s magisterial Stand on Zanzibar (1968). An index of his reviews can be found here. He also has a good mix of newer science fiction reviews as well.
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Composite Cover (illustrating a multiplicity of scenes, stories, thematic elements) Part II
February 18, 2013 § 20 Comments
(Vincent di Fate’s cover for the 1975 edition of The Other Side of Tomorrow (1973), ed. Roger Elwood)
My second composite cover post — here’s a link to Part I if you missed it. I’ve included a few covers by Vincent di Fate who has always been one of my favorite illustrators of the 1970s. His cover for The Other Side of Tomorrow (1973) is top-notch. A conglomerations of screens are placed on a barren stylized landscape where two figures gaze intently at them. Each screen shows a different scene, a space station, spaceships, a boy’s contemplative face, an old man — and, a ringed planet looms in the background. Whether or not the screens illustrate individual stories in the collection is unclear — regardless, the composite nature of the illustration is « Read the rest of this entry »
January 26, 2013 § 24 Comments
(Davis Meltzer’s cover for the 1971 edition)
The Falling Astronauts (1971) (from now on FA) is the first in Barry N. Malzberg’s thematic trilogy on the American space program. Although not as engaging or experimental as the other two masterpieces in the sequence – Beyond Apollo (1972) and Revelations (1972), FA is highly readable and a notable work in Malzberg’s extensive corpus. FA attempts to debunk the so-called cult (in part propagated by the media) of the astronaut (and his ideal family) and in so doing questions the ultimate purpose of the space « Read the rest of this entry »