November 24, 2012 § 8 Comments
My San Antonio, TX haul….
I’ve read multiple of Shaw’s books in the past — they are often intriguing on the conceptual level but fall apart during delivery (Ground Zero Man, One Million Tomorrows)…. But, the back cover of Shadow of Heaven (1969) was intriguing enough to grab a copy.
The multiple Farmer novels I’ve read (most of the Riverworld series and Traitor to the Living) were trash. But, I’m willing to give him another go — against my better judgement.
Heinlein is overrated but readable and Stephen Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey (1973) is supposed to be an intriguing post-apocalyptical tale….
1. Shadow of the Heaven, Bob Shaw (1969)
(George Underwood’s cover « Read the rest of this entry »
November 23, 2012 § 4 Comments
(H. R. Van Dongen’s cover for the 1980 edition)
Barrington J. Bayley’s novels — I’ve reviewed Collision Course (1973), Empire of Two Worlds (1972), The Fall of Chronopolis (1974), The Pillars of Eternity (1982), and Star Winds (1978) — are characterized by extremely inventive concepts, generally poor characterization, and an uncanny lightness combined with a dose of visceral brutality. In the works of his I’ve read so far he never leaves the galactic empire/space opera format and is utterly uninterested in extrapolating potential or possible future technology.
Along with Doris Piserchia’s The Billion Days of Earth (1976) and Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s The Light That Never Was (1972), The Garments of Caean is one of the most off-the-wall strange space operas « Read the rest of this entry »
October 7, 2012 § 8 Comments
(John Cayea’s cover for the 1974 edition)
Over the years I’ve deluded myself into becoming a John Brunner completest — around twenty-five of his novels line my shelves and I’ve read most of them over the years. At his best he’s without question one of the great masters of the genre — Stand on Zanzibar (1968), The Sheep Look Up (1972), etc. are evidence of this. However, in-between his social science fiction masterpieces are a plethora of unsatisfying attempts at traditionalist space opera. In these works Brunner never fully leaves his pulp roots although he occasionally tries to inject a dose of hard science, (pseudo) intellectualism, and social commentary.
Total Eclipse (1974) fits this mold. A group of scientists attempt to figure out the mystery of a highly advanced race which has apparently, died out. Character interactions are painfully silly along the “Oh heroic main character, you’re a genius let me jump into your bed” sort of « Read the rest of this entry »
Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXIX (Priest + Brunner + Crowley + Wallace + Duncan)
September 29, 2012 § 14 Comments
Ah, what a delightful group! A few from my father, a few from Marx books which I hadn’t posted yet…. Priest and Crowley’s novels involve fascinating worldscapes — a world winched across the horizon, a world at the top of a pillar… Both are considered among the better stylists in science fiction and fantasy.
And, my 22nd (?) Brunner novel! The Stone That Never Came Down (1973) — from his glory period of the late 60s-early 70s (this period produced Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, Shockwave Rider, The Jagged Orbit).
And two more impulsive finds — Ian Wallace’s Croyd (1967) — a reader claimed it was one of the best sci-fi novels of the 60s, and thus due to my intense curiosity, I had to find a copy. And Dark Dominion (1954), I know little about David Duncan — he wrote only three sci-fi novels in the 50s. His work is described by SF encyclopedia as “quietly eloquent, inherently memorable, worth remarking upon.”
And the covers!
1. The Inverted World, Christopher Priest (1974)
(Jack Fargasso’s cover for the 1975 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Spacewomen of the Future (fixing spaceships + fighting aliens + charging across barren landscapes)
September 12, 2012 § 28 Comments
(Don Sibley’s cover for the November 1950 issue of Galaxy)
When we conjure the image of a 40s/50s science fiction pulp heroine we often imagine a character who has to be rescued by men from aliens, shrieks and clings to any man nearby, and is always in a state of undress. I’ve included one cover, for the sake of comparison, that I find to be an exemplar of this type of sexist (and racist) depiction below (Alex Schomburg’s cover for the January 1954 issue of Future Science Fiction): white woman wrapped in only a towel stalked by an evil alien obviously painted with African-American facial characteristics (heavy on the sexual predation vibe) — the reader is supposed to buy into the racial stereotypes and thus be titillated by the fear she must feel.
I’ve selected a wide range of mostly pulp magazine covers depicting spacewomen of the future (I’ve loosely decided that this means women in space, in spacesuits) that tend to buck the trend « Read the rest of this entry »
August 14, 2012 § 12 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1959 edition — I suspect it might be David Davies)
Edmund Cooper’s Seed of Light (1959) is less of a traditional narrative of the voyage of a generation ship as are its fellow generation ship novels of the 40s/50s. The best examples are Brian Aldiss’ Non-Stop (1958) and Robert Heinlein’s Orphans of the Sky (1941). Seed of Light is more like a piece of pseudo-history interlaced with fragments of narrative of varying effectiveness. The work is best described as a thematically-linked series of novellas tracking the future development of man in broad strokes à la Brian Aldiss’ Galaxies Like Grains of Sand (1960). Unfortunately, Cooper’s original splicing of the generation ship theme onto a Future History template (made popular but Olaf Stapleton and Isaac Asimov among others) is extremely uneven. Some portions are involving while others are plagued by laborious epoch-spanning pseudo-historical lectures.
Because each part is a separate novella (the last two are more closely « Read the rest of this entry »
June 17, 2012 § 4 Comments
(Gerard Quinn’s cover for the December 1956 issue of New Worlds)
Disembodied brains — in large metal womb-like containers, floating in space or levitating in the air (you know, implying PSYCHIC POWER), pulsating in glass chambers, planets with brain-like undulations, pasted in the sky (GOD!, surprise) above the Garden of Eden replete with mechanical contrivances among the flowers and butterflies and naked people… The possibilities are endless, and more often than not, taken in rather absurd directions.
I’ve cobbled together a large variety of images from pulp magazines to covers from the late 70s. My favorites include Valigrusky’s « Read the rest of this entry »
June 12, 2012 § 14 Comments
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)
Although known for his famous young adult Tripod Trilogy (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, The Pool of Fire), John Christopher produced a substantial corpus of science fiction works for older readers — most notably, the post-apocalyptical tale No Blade of Grass (1956). The Long Winter (1961), one of Christopher’s lesser known works, is on the surface another post-apocalyptical novel (or sorts). However, the post-apocalyptical elements are subsumed by a bitting satire on colonial and post-colonial British attitudes towards their colonies. The publication date of 1962 is of vital importance in understanding the work. Nigeria gained its independence from the British in 1960, Ghana in 1957, and South Africa in 1961.
A large percentage of the reviews I’ve read complain that they « Read the rest of this entry »
Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XXX (Christopher + Benford + Shaw + Frank + et al.)
June 4, 2012 § 14 Comments
My second batch of books from my youthful haunt (Austin, TX) is equally as varied and intriguing as the first. I’m most interested in Pat Frank’s famous late 50s classic Alas, Babylon. Yes, a sci-fi fan like me should have read it a LONG time ago. John Christopher’s The Long Winter (1962) should also prove a worthwhile read — an ice age hits Earth and the English main characters flee to Africa. Shaw’s Orbitsville (1975) is the the vein of Larry Niven’s more famous Ringworld (1970) and Arthur C. Clarke’s classic Rendezvous with Rama (1972) — explorers encountering unusual alien worlds (in this case, a dyson sphere).
As always, a few stunning covers… My favorite of the bunch is John Schoenherr’s cover for Mark Phillips’ Brain Twister (1962)…
Enjoy! If you’ve read any of the novels few free to comment. I’ve not read any of Benford, Frank, Mark Phillips (pseudonym for Laurence Janifer and Randall Garrett) or Platt’s works before.
1. In The Ocean of Night, Gregory Benford (1977)
(Larry Kresek’s cover for the 1977 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »