October 8, 2013 § 16 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1961 edition of Earth Abides (1949), George R. Stewart)
Note: if anyone can identify the artist for the first three downright spectacular covers I’d be very very happy. I’m positive that they match stylistically (the vague human shape, the cityscape, the brush strokes, the textures). Two of the three covers were made for Signet press and all three are from the early 1960s. I suspect if I perused the covers from the Signet catalogue from that era I’d find even more…. Perhaps it’s the work of Sanford Kossin? He was producing covers for Signet around the same time.
And now The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape « Read the rest of this entry »
October 7, 2013 § 8 Comments
(Uncredited — but looks like Jerome Podwil’s work — cover for the 1974 edition)
The Bridge (1973) is D. Keith Mano’s only “full-fledged” SF work (Clute on SF encyclopedia). Mano’s profoundly unsettling dystopic New York circa 2035 is characterized by an unusual mix of radical environmentalism gone amok and Christianity misinterpreted beyond recognition. In our current day of overwhelming evidence of Global warming and other types of environmental devastation caused by mankind, Mano’s near future will come off as unnecessarily alarmist.
Clearly Mano means his work to be a satire of the most draconian rhetorical flourishes of the environmentalist « 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 »
Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIII (Aldiss + Nourse + Biggle, Jr. + Levy + Coleman)
October 2, 2013 § 18 Comments
Three of the five books have been on my to acquire list for long time. I adore Brian Aldiss’ early work (Non-Stop is one of my favorite SF novels) so I snatched up Starswarm (1964) without a moment’s hesitation. Lloyd Biggle, Jr. writes very unusual (not sure if it’s good) SF — The Light That Never Was (1972) certainly had potential despite its flaws. Regardless, The World Menders (1971) is supposedly his best work (despite the egregious Freas cover it was “graced” with). After reading some good reviews of some of Alan E. Nourse’s 1950s medical themed stories, I’ve been looking for a copy of the fix-up novel The Mercy Men (1955). The remaining two novels in this post were in the 50 cent clearance section — both have stunning covers (Powers + Lehr) and are probably absolutely atrocious reads.
1. Starswarm, Brian Aldiss (1964)
(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
September 30, 2013 § 11 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1965 edition)
3.75/5 (Collated rating: Good)
Almost all SF fans have read Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s masterpiece A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) but few indulge in his shorter works. By 1957 Miller had virtually quit publishing new SF (A Canticle is comprised of novellas published between 1955-1957). His only later work published later was Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman (1997) completed by Terry Bisson and released posthumously.
The View From the Stars (1965) — containing five short stories, two novelettes, and one novella — is a cross section of his most productive decade. Although I found that none of the works included should be considered masterpieces, “I, Dreamer” (1953), ”Dumb Waiter” (1952), ”Big Joe and the Nth Generation” (1952), and ”The Big Hunger” (1952) were wonderful. All the others are readable « Read the rest of this entry »
September 28, 2013 § 27 Comments
Part 3 of 5 acquisition posts covering my haul from Dawn Treader books in Ann Arbor, Michigan…. The only Sturgeon novel I’ve read was the masterpiece (and rightly so) More Than Human (1953) so I was thrilled when I found not one but three copies of Venus Plus X (1960). Unfortunately, I was not able to scour the shelves closely enough to find a first edition and thus am stuck with Gray Marrow’s cover for the 1968 Pyramid Science Fiction edition. But, I went ahead and posted the first edition art instead because it’s without doubt Victor Kalin’s best cover…..
Sheckley is brilliant so I snatched up another collection of his short stories without hesitation.
The two other authors are ones I have heard about but never read — Charles L. Harness and Madelaine Duke. Duke’s novel was a complete risk due to the ridiculous sounding premise but I love reading works by unknown authors. Harness is claimed by some to be one of the great authors whose neglect, in the words of John Clute in the SF encyclopedia entry on Harness, “is difficult to understand.” His work sounds like my cup of tea….
Thoughts? Has anyone read Charles L. Harness?
1. Venus Plus X, Theodore Sturgeon (1960)
(Victor Kalin’s cover for the 1960 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 »
September 23, 2013 § 19 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)
4/5 (Collated rating: Good)
My only previous exposure to Fritz Leiber was his enjoyable and highly experimental Hugo-winning novel The Big Time (1958) — an unusual story (evoking a one-act play) whose characters are soldiers recruited from all eras of history relaxing in between missions during a vast temporal war. The same sort of invention and incisive wit abounds in the collection A Pail of Air (1951). Against a post-apocalyptical backdrop that runs throughout most of the stories, Leiber’s stories are chimeric (and satirical) parables on a vast spectrum of themes — the mechanization of the future, gender relations, endless war, media saturation… The stories shift between whimsical delight and gut-wrenching despair.
This collection of eleven stories from the early 50s to the early 60s is highly recommended for all SF fans — especially the title story ”A Pail of Air” (1951), ”The Foxholes of Mars” (1952), « Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2013 § 18 Comments
There is no better book store for used SF in the US (that I have been to) than Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan…. Thankfully, I made the pilgrimage for an altogether different purpose — I delivered a paper at a conference at the University of Michigan — but couldn’t help but spend a while amongst the heavenly stacks (well for a SF fanatic). This is part 1 of 5 acquisition posts which will showcase the bounty I procured. And there were probably close to 80 other books I wanted. Alas.
So, what have we here? One of Lafferty’s most famous novels — nebula nominated Fourth Mansions (1969). I’ve only read his shorter work so I’ll be devouring this one soon. More Sheckley for one can never have enough of his biting, wonderful, and hilariously satirical short stories. A straight-forward space opera by Brian N. Ball (yes, I know, not normally my cup of tea) on recommendation from Mike at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature… And a somewhat more risky purchase, A. M. Lightner’s The Day of the Drones (1969) — this work of social SF is supposedly her most mature work (she tended to write for the young adult audience) but it was still edited for publication to be suitable for younger readers. Despite the socially relevant theme, I suspect it will come off as rather corny/undeveloped.
1. Fourth Mansions, R. A. Lafferty (1969)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »