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

April 12, 2014 § 9 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 »

Book Review: Juniper Time, Kate Wilhelm (1979)

April 11, 2014 § 39 Comments

(Bob Aulicino’s cover for the hideous 1979 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1980 Nebula Award

“Everything that is, Robert had said, must be.  Every cycle must be completed, must lead to the next cycle.  He had talked about times when the desert had been drier than it now was, times when it had been lush and wet, and there had been no questions in his mind that this too must be” (170-171).

At the heart of Kate Wilhelm’s Nebula-nominated novel Juniper Time (1979) is the notion of historical cyclicality at both the macro- (earth cycles) and the micro- (human historical time) levels.  The near future mysteriously drought stricken world where Wilhelm is an important juncture of two such cycles.  The macrocycle concerns devastating world-wide desertification, which is most caused by a natural cycle but the precise nature of which is unknown.  The microcycle concerns a shift in human populations in the drought stricken countries: mass migrations towards coasts as the springs and rivers of the hinterlands turn to mud.  In this world the farmer, in the past linked tightly to his fields, abandons his traditional position in American society and moves to a cluttered and violent state « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Crystal Ship (three novellas by Vonda N. McIntyre + Marta Randall + Joan D. Vinge), ed. Robert Silverberg (1976)

April 6, 2014 § 8 Comments

MLO4230

(Norman Adams’ cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

According to a list compiled by Ian Sales [here] only a handful of SF anthologies have hit print solely featuring women authors—none were published before 1972 and, surprisingly, few after 1980 (there seems to be a resurgence in the last few years).  The Crystal Ship (1976) ed. Robert Silverberg, is one of these.  It contains the three novellas by three important SF authors who got their start in the 70s: Marta Randall, Joan D. Vinge, Vondra McIntyre.  The latter two achieved critical success: Joan D. Vinge won the Hugo for her novel The Snow Queen (1980) and Vonda N. McIntyre won the Hugo for her novel Dreamsnake (1978).  Marta Randall, on the other hand, despite her Nebula nomination for the intriguing Islands (1976) remains to this day lesser known.

All three of the novellas feature impressive female protagonists and narratives that subvert many of SF’s traditional « 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 »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)

March 29, 2014 § 15 Comments

A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).

Enjoy!

1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)

FTRWRLDSCL1968

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation.  This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia.  All life should have perished millions of years ago.  But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death.  Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” « 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. XCVII (Asimov + Malzberg + Randall + Schmidt)

March 19, 2014 § 7 Comments

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) « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Ancient, My Enemy, Gordon R. Dickson (1974)

March 15, 2014 § 14 Comments

(Peter Rauch’s cover for the 1974 edition)

2.75/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Average)

Between 1974 and 1990 Gordon R. Dickson’s collection Ancient, My Enemy (1974) was reprinted eleven times.  The reason for this “popularity” is beyond me considering I found that a grand total of three of the nine stories were solid while the rest were poorly written cliché-ridden magazine filler…  Dickson had the ability to write some great short SF—for example, Mike at Potpourri of SF Literature adores his collection In the Bone (1987).  But Ancient, My Enemy gives little indication of his talent and generally lacks the insight that his novels such as The Alien Way (1965) possess.

Recommended only for Gordon R. Dickson completists.  I suggest acquiring later more discerning collections of his 50s/60s SF such as « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVI (Varley + Wilhelm + Blish + Effinger)

March 13, 2014 § 21 Comments

With the sole novel of his I’ve read, What Entropy Means to Me (1972), George Alec Effinger has entered the pantheon of my favorite authors—the novel is that brilliant.  So, with a birthday gift card from my sister I procured a copy of Irrational Numbers (1975), a collection of short fiction.  Will read soon….

I know very little about John Varley’s work.  I have a copy of his collection The Persistence of Vision (1978)  but had no idea that his first novel, The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977) was as well known as the Goodreads ratings make it out to be (1,476 votes!).  I am positive that Boris Vallejo’s horrid cover prevented me from even considering the novel in the past.

More Wilhelm! (Juniper Time)

More Blish! (Midsummer Century)

All first edition hardbacks for a mere $1-2 each.

Thoughts?

1. The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley (1977)

(Boris Vallejo’s cover for the 1977 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

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