Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCI (Ballard + MacLean + Aldiss + Watson)

January 31, 2014 § 32 Comments

One of the better groups of acquisitions in a while!  After Katherine MacLean’s masterpiece Missing Man (1975) I was very excited to come across a collection of her late 40s and 50s short stories.  Unfortunately, my edition — from 1973— had such an awful cover that I couldn’t put in on this post.  Instead, I put the first edition cover by Paul Lehr which is simply gorgeous….

Ballard collections are always welcome!  I have all of his short works in a single volume but the Powers cover is top-notch.

One of Ian Watson’s most famous novels…

And an unknown work by Brian Aldiss,  Enemies of the System (1978)…  Has anyone read it?  I suspect it will be the weakest book of the bunch.

1. The Diploids, Katherine MacLean (1962)

(Uncredited — but looks like Lehr — cover for the 1962 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)

January 1, 2014 § 23 Comments

Everyone likes lists!  And I do too….  This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year.  Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.

  

Top Ten Novels

1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).

2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel.  Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….

3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter…  Everyday surrealism. « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape

October 8, 2013 § 17 Comments

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(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 »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIII (Aldiss + Nourse + Biggle, Jr. + Levy + Coleman)

October 2, 2013 § 18 Comments

Part 4 of 5 acquisition posts covering my haul from the marvelous SF bookstore Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Part I, Part II, Part III).

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 »

Updates: An Incomplete List of Worthwhile Classic Science Fiction Blogs/Resources

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.

2] The PorPor Books Blog: SF and Fantasy Books 1968-1988: I find this blog « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Who Can Replace a Man? (variant title: Best Science Fiction Stories of Brian W. Aldiss), Brian W. Aldiss (1965)

February 13, 2013 § 10 Comments

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 11.42.53 AM

(Don Puchatz’s cover for the 1967 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

Seven of the 1950s short stories in Brian W. Aldiss’ best of collection Who Can Replace a Man? (1965) I’ve reviewed before in No Time Like Tomorrow (1959) and Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1960).  However, the collection contains seven additional 50s and 60s novellas/short stories that make up the majority of pages.  I’ve indicated the old material in the review with an asterisk « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: No Time Like Tomorrow, Brian Aldiss (1959)

January 14, 2013 § 2 Comments

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 11.21.02 PM

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1959 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

This collection of Brian Aldiss short stories from the mid-to-late 50s is a notch above the middling Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1960), collated from the same period, which I reviewed a few months back.  Aldiss is definitely one of the more bizarre and original (along with Philip K. Dick) sci-fi voices of the 50s (and beyond).

Most collections are purposely comprised of a mixture of good and bad stories hence the generally low collated ratings I hand out.  Unlike Galaxies, most of the stories in this collection are worth reading and none are egregiously bad.  ‘Not for an Age,’ ‘Judas Danced’, ‘The Failed Men’, and ‘Outside’ are all highly « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XLVIII (Asimov + Brunner + Aldiss)

December 24, 2012 § 7 Comments

It’s been a while since I returned to one of the more well-known authors of the 50s — Isaac Asimov.  I’ve read many of his novels and short story collections (Foundation Trilogy, The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, The Currents of Space, The Gods Themselves, Nemesis, etc) and have never been too impressed.  However, with a run of recent bad 50s sci-fi works under my belt (review for David Duncan’s egregious Dark Dominion is upcoming) I feel the need to reappraise a few of the 50s greats. So, when I was perusing some gorgeous old paperbacks with well-preserved covers I purchased two Asimov novels for the first time since I was a young teenager.

And another Brunner to add to the 20+ works of his I already own….  Unfortunately the one edition I find was the one edition where the editor edited + modified Brunner’s words without his permission.

And some Aldiss short stories from the 50s….

A gorgeous collection of covers!

1. Pebble in the Sky, Isaac Asimov (1950) (MY REVIEW)

Screen shot 2012-12-24 at 9.50.07 AM

(Uncredited cover for the 1957 « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Galaxies Like Grains of Sand, Brian Aldiss (1960)

October 13, 2012 § 16 Comments

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1960 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

The concept behind Brian Aldiss’ short story collection Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1960) is intriguing.  Take previously published stories (in this case from magazines in the late 50s), graft them together by means of mini-introductions, and arrange them so they fit into a future history framework à la Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men (1930) or Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy (1951-1953).

The quality of the stories makes the format less than successful.   Only three stories are worth reading — ‘Secret of a Mighty City’ (1958), ‘Out of Reach’ (1957), and ‘All « Read the rest of this entry »

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