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 »
October 27, 2013 § 3 Comments
A fun bunch of thrift store finds and gifts…. I’m most excited about Robert Sheckley’s novel Immortality, Inc. (1958) — not only is the cover gorgeous (the initials read LSG but I can’t figure out who the artist might be) but Sheckley is fast becoming a favorite of mine (for example, the short story collections Store of Infinity and The People Trap).
I know very little about George Zebrowski’s novels. So, I’ll approach The Omega Point (1972) with a tad bit trepidation. Has anyone read him? If so, what do you think?
I’ve read Heinlein’s The Man Who Sold the Moon but I have a much later edition and sort of enjoy the standard pulp cover for the 1951 edition.
And another Anderson classic….
1. Immortality, Inc., Robert Sheckley (1958) (MY REVIEW)
(Uncredited — brilliant — cover for the 1959 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 »
August 14, 2013 § 28 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition)
Before Robert Silverberg wrote his late 60s and early 70s New Wave masterpieces (A Time of Changes, Dying Inside, The World Inside, etc), he produced a vast quantity of pulp science fiction novels and short stories. Godling, Go Home! (1964) is a surprisingly solid collection of 50s shorts that can, at times, be surprisingly meditative (on death, exploration, civilization). That said, expect rather naive messages — à la ”we travel in space because we can!” or “Alien contact requires out-of-the-box thinking” — grafted onto a by the numbers pulp plot.
A fun collection — recommended for fans of slightly more intelligent than normal pulp SF, Silverberg completes, and 50s SF. ”Godling, Go Home!” (1957), “Why?” (1957), and « Read the rest of this entry »
March 18, 2013 § 17 Comments
An overpopulation themed novel (at least for part) by Gordon R. Dickson….
A supposedly underrated/dark novel by Brian M. Stableford (according to some, one of his best)…
An early novel in Keith Laumer’s famous Retief sequence…
And a fun juvenile by Lester del Rey….
1. The Outposter, Gordon R. Dickson (1971)
(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1976 edition)
From the back cover: “Destination: Oblivion. The Lottery played no favorites — if a person’s number came up, he joined the rest of the losers marked for exile from the overcrowded « Read the rest of this entry »
December 18, 2012 § 17 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)
*Review for the 1966 edition. The 1979 and 1985 editions were revised.*
collated rating: 3/5 (Average)
Needle in a Timestack (1966) is an uneven collection of ten short stories from the late 50s and early 60s by Robert Silverberg. By the late 60s and early 70s Silverberg was producing his masterpieces. However, earlier in his career he wrote mostly pulp novels and short stories. A few in this collection tackle, in varying degrees of success, social science fiction themes: the media, war propaganda, colonialism, unusual criminal punishment, the suburban lifestyle etc. Many of these « Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
September 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
More Marx Book purchases along with some random 99 cent thrift store finds (Raymond Z. Gallun + M. John Harrison) that seemed intriguing enough. I will eventually get to M. John Harrison’s magnum opus series of novels, Virconium– beginning with The Pastel City (1971) — but, as always, I approach an author’s masterpieces through an often circuitous manner. I suspect my Malzberg find will be of a lesser quality than either Beyond Apollo (1972) or Revelations (1972).
I reviews I’ve found online of Gallun’s The Eden Cycle (1974) proclaim it an underrated masterpiece — with layers of virtual reality, etc. I’ll read it soon…
As always, have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?
1. The Day of the Burning, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)
(Don Ivan Punchatz’s cover « Read the rest of this entry »
August 19, 2012 § 2 Comments
(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1960 edition)
Over the years I’ve found Philip K. Dick’s early novels hit or miss. Along with The World Jones Made (1956), Dr. Futurity (1960) (expanded from the 1954 short story “Time Pawn”) is the least satisfying of his novels I’ve read so far. My total PKD consumption is extensive — around 20 novels and at least 60 short stories.
Time travel is by far my least favorite major science fiction trope. However, in many of Philip K. Dick’s novels and short stories time travel is transformed into something surreal and often, downright fascinating. But unlike his later novels, the trope in Dr. Futurity is an endlessly laborious plot device. Our hero doctor, Jim Parsons, is constantly whisked back and forth in time with hardly a moment of rest or discussion. « Read the rest of this entry »