November 13, 2013 § 33 Comments
MPorcius, a frequent and well-read commentator on my site, has started transferring his numerous amazon reviews and writing new reviews of classic SF (a substantial portion is pre-1980s) to his blog. Please visit him and comment on his posts!
queue rant: I’ve noticed a surprising lack of frequently updated classic SF blogs online. Yes, many bloggers occasionally dabble in the distant era of SF glory or publish yet another review of the obligatory masterpieces because they appear on a some “best of” list (Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc). However, few are devoted to the period and make it a point to write reviews of books that very few people will ever actually read due to their obscurity i.e. blogs that don’t sell out by churning out reviews of new Tor releases (I have declined their offer) or endless 4/5 or 5/5 starred let’s pat each other on the back reviews of self-published (and generally awful) ebooks « Read the rest of this entry »
Book Review: Chronocules (variant title: Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something that Might have been Castor Oil), D. G. Compton (1970)
August 10, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1970 edition)
D. G. Compton has long been one of my favorite SF authors. Regrettably, his readership remains small and he has ceased publishing SF. Novels like The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) and Synthajoy (1968) are first rate masterworks with Farewell, Earth’s Bliss (1966) and The Steel Crocodile (1970) close behind. All of his works have a distinctly English feel with solid, and occasionally beautiful, prose.
Chronocules (1970), with its outrageous variant title Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, the Sandpaper Sides of Used Matchboxes, and Something that « Read the rest of this entry »
July 26, 2013 § 28 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)
3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)
I have long been a fan of Poul Anderson’s functionalist yet engaging SF adventures. He is one of the masters at integrating social commentary (often on the impact of future technology) into the framework of the early Cold War influenced SF story without unduly weighing it down. Brain Wave (1954) is a good example of both his virtues and faults.
Brain Wave in a nutshell: a fascinating premise, a somewhat frustrating ending, dubious social commentary, while the incredibly brief length (even for the 50s) and uneven pacing suggest heavy cuts by editor… That said, I suspect other famous works — such as the Daniel Keyes’ Flowers of Algernon (novelette: 1959, novel: 1966) and perhaps even « Read the rest of this entry »
January 5, 2013 § 34 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1959 edition)
4.75/5 (Very Good)
I recently received a copy of Modecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959) from 2thD at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature (his enthusiastic review of the novel here). Roshwald’s novel should be considered along with Walter Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959, published 1960) as one the best nuclear disaster sci-fi novels of the late 50s (and all time). Unlike Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (1957) or Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon (1959) the allegiance (Soviet or American) of the protagonists of Level 7 remains « Read the rest of this entry »
December 25, 2012 § 2 Comments
David Duncan, most famous for writing the screenplay to George Pal’s film The Time Machine (1960), produced a handful of genre and non-genre novels in the 1950s. Bluntly put, the Dark Dominion (1954) was one of the more disappointing novels I’ve read this year. It is worthwhile for one thing alone, Richard Powers’ gorgeous cover. Duncan’s novel is characterized by an incredibly painful strain of melodrama even for the 50s, downright preposterous science « Read the rest of this entry »
March 31, 2012 § 12 Comments
A nice (varied) selection of finds….
I’ve continued to be on the lookout for Malzberg’s novels and, due to the proliferation of comments by my readers about what is his best, I’ve acquiesced and picked up a copy of his acknowledged masterpiece, Beyond Apollo (1972). I suspect it will be as good as In The Enclosure (1973).
If there is any area (besides sci-fi from the 21st century) that I haven’t read a good portion of the classics, it’s works from around the turn of the century. I have read a large swathe of Verne’s works and from beginning of the 20th century all of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series — but, only a few of H. G. Wells’ oeuvre (The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine). So, when I came across a 60s edition of The First Men in the Moon (1901) with a nostalgic looking cover I snatched it up!
The two short story collections are unknown commodities: Frederick Pohl’s In The Problem Pit (1976) and James Gunn’s Station in Space (1958). I’ve never heard of Gunn and sort of dislike what I’ve read of Pohl so far. Regardless, both works have intriguing covers!
1. Beyond Apollo, Barry Malzberg (1972)
(Don Maitz’ cover for « Read the rest of this entry »
January 21, 2012 § 4 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1965 edition)
*Concerning the publication date: Rena Vale’s Beyond the Sealed World was written in the 50s and sold to Shasta press. However, the press went bankrupt and the novel remained unpublished until 1965. No wonder it took forever for another press to pick it up….
Before Rena Vale became a science fiction author she was a secretary for the California State Assembly Committee on Un-American activities. In an affidavit she detailed her own experiences as a member of the Communist party and implicated famous individuals she worked with including Lucille Belle (of I Love Lucy fame), novelist John Steinbeck, actress Gale Sodergaard, and various others! Wonderful.
I’m not going to lie but this piqued « Read the rest of this entry »
October 31, 2011 § 2 Comments
August 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
My month of infrequent posts is over — I’ve returned to Austin after a month long sojourn across Colorado, New Mexico, France and Italy…. So, what do I do in my jet lagged state? Head to the Half Price Books. Not the best haul this time but a few potentially interesting reads.
1. Witch World (1963), Andre Norton
I’ve yet to read any of Andre Norton’s immense number of novels. Not knowing exactly where to start I picked up what is generally considered among her best works — Witch World (1963). It was nominated for the 1964 Hugo award for Best novel and often places in best Fantasy/Sci-fi lists. And the cover is « Read the rest of this entry »