Tag Archives: Barry N. Malzberg

Book Review: The Gamesman, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Ed Soyka’s cover for the 1975 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

“The Game is not a metaphor. The Game is not a closed system which represents something larger; but the choices made within its pathways are exactly that, choices which have to do with the immediate outcome. It would be a mistake to think of the success or failure in the Game having anything to do with the world. There are not metaphors. There are no outer significances. There is merely the Game itself and what it accomplishes upon its participants” (37).

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 short story, “The Library of Babel” the universe is conceived of as a vast library stretching in all directions.  In this spectacular environment—an endless series of hexagonal rooms, each one with the same number of shelves with the same number of books with the same number of letters inscribed on each page, etc. Borges brings into sharp, and unsettling relief, complex metaphysical speculations.

In The Gamesman (1975) Barry N. Malzberg creates a similarly sculpted world with two bifurcated Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIX (Holland + Snyder + Malzberg 2x)

A grab bag of risk (Cecelia Holland + Guy Snyder) and great reward (Barry N. Malzberg)!  I would love to know what you think.  I know Holland’s Floating Worlds (1976) was picked up by the SF Masterwork series put out by Gollancz but I know next to nothing about the novel.

And, well, Malzberg is my favorite SF author (metafiction + experimentation + Freud + recursive elements) so I know what I’m getting with his stuff!

Thoughts?

1. Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)

(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVIII (Malzberg + Bishop + Sheckley + White)

What a haul!  Three are from numerous previous expeditions to choice used book havens….  And I caved in and bought Malzberg’s The Destruction of the Temple (1974) on abebooks because his seldom reprinted works are hard to find.

Sheckley’s Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962) is near the top of my reading list.  Supposedly one of his best.

And, who can resist Michael Bishop’s magnum opus, No Enemy But Time (1982)?!?

And James White is always solid…

Thoughts?  Anything particularly worth reading?

1. The Destruction of the Temple, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Uncredited cover for the 1974 edition) 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

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CV (Russ + Spinrad + Malzberg + Kornbluth)

Dawn Treader bookstore haul part II [part I]!  A batch of my favorite authors: Norman Spinrad, Joanna Russ, Barry N. Malzberg, and C. M. Kornbluth.  Two novels and two short story collections!

…and some fun covers.

Thoughts?

1. No Direction Home, Norman Spinrad (1975)

(Charles Moll’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “A GHASTLY WORLD… AN ULTIMATE ORGASM… A COSMIC NIGHTMARE… Bone-chilling, mind-shattering science fiction that will take you 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: The Empty People, Barry N. Malzberg (as K. M. O’Donnell) (1969)

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(Howard Winters’ cover for the 1969 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

“Inspecting a few she found that they were about what she had expected: the science-fiction books seemed to be full of nonsense about extraterrestrials or flights into space, the damnedest silliest stuff imaginable, and the sex part was sheer filth.  There was no question about it; there was no other way to describe those books” (12).

Science fiction as delusion.  More specifically, chapters replete with SF plots with evil aliens with interchangeable names and megalomaniacal claims to power culled straight from the pulps are delusions.  Imagined (perhaps?) by an average American man with “metastases” (14) growing in his brain while a concerned, albeit cheating, normal American housewife waits at his bedside.  The Empty People (1969) is considered Barry N. Malzberg’s (writing at K. M. O’Donnell) first SF novel.  However in the vein of his more famous Herovit’s World (1973), the most convincing interpretation of the novel suggests that the SF elements (purposefully clichéd and vaguely explained) are mere manifestations and torments of a diseased mind.

Originally Malzberg had aspirations to become a playwright and was even awarded multiple university playwright fellowships but was unable to break into the literary market.  Thus, he tried his hand at science fiction in the late 60s with some success (his most famous work would be published in the early 70s).  I would suggest that Malzberg’s palpable frustration writing SF can be found throughout the novel.  In The Empty People pulp science fiction plots, in their most general formulations, serve as instruments of repression Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIII (Wilhelm + Clarke + Tucker + Malzberg)

Another Wilhelm to add to my growing stack of her novels and collections—I’ve read and reviewed quite a few recently: Margaret and I (1971), The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968), and Juniper Time (1979)

More Malzberg (Ace Double story collection + discursive SF novel about fandom)—early stuff from his K. M. O’Donnell pseudonym days.

Clarke’s first novel—although my edition does not have the amazing cover I placed in the post (sorry!).

And, the perhaps OK novel, Ice & Iron (1974) by Wilson Tucker.  I really should read his more famous time travel novels first, I have at least two on the shelf….

Enjoy!

1. The Infinity Box, Kate Wilhelm (1975)

(Ed Soyka’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVII (Asimov + Malzberg + Randall + Schmidt)

Some goodies (finally reaching the bottom of my large pile of unreported SF—holiday leftovers, one or two Half Price/Thrift store visits, birthday gifts).

My second collection (need more!) of Malzberg short stories eagerly wants to be read!

An Asimov collection, Buy Jupiter and Other Short Stories (1975), that was inexpensive and also low on my list of books to read.  As readers know, one of my first SF novels I ever read was The Currents of Space (1952)… That said, Asimov has nostalgic allure but none of the many subsequent novels of his I have read have proved, in my opinion, his supposed “genius talent” and cult of “hero worship.”

Both the Malzberg and Asimov collections have brief intro essays to each story and random autobiographical fragments—smacks of filler.  But, perhaps there will be some intriguing observations (although, I rather not know that Malzberg wrote a particular short story in only an hour, or that Asimov took a bet from a pretty female editor, blah, blah, blah).

Marta Randall’s Islands (1976) was a solid read so it was only a matter of time before I acquired her superior (according to Ian Sales) A City in the North (1976).  You have to feel for her, her books received some of the most horrid Vincent Di Fate covers possible….

 I suspect that The Sins of the Fathers (1973) by Stanley Schmidt is a forgettable 70s space opera but I am willing to give it a try.

Thoughts?

1.  The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady, Barry N. Malzberg (1980)

(Michael Flanagan’s cover for the 1980 edition) Continue reading