Tag Archives: experimental

Book Review: The Many Worlds of Barry Malzberg, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Jack Faragasso’s cover for the 1975 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

The Many Worlds of Barry Malzberg (1975) contains eleven short works of which four (“Initiation,” “Management,” “Reconstitution,” and “After the Unfortunate Accident”) were original to the volume and have not been published elsewhere.

My first exposure to Barry N. Malzberg’s massive short fiction catalogue was a mixed bag.  But even the least intriguing of his works contain literary prose and unsettling scenes…  I recommend this collection for a handful of the stories (although the best can be found elsewhere): namely, “The Union Forever” (1973), “Reconstitution” (1975), “Death to the Keeper” (1968), and”Closed Sicilian” (1973).  

I found Continue reading

Book Review: Journey Beyond Tomorrow (variant title: The Journey of Joenes), Robert Sheckley (1962)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1962 edition)

4.75/5 (Very Good)

“Beyond a doubt, Joenes himself was an actual person; but there is no way of determining the authenticity of every story told about him.  Some of the tales do not appear to be factual accounts, but rather, moral allegories.  But even those that are considered allegorical are representative of the spirit and temper of the times” (vii).

Robert Sheckley’s third novel Journey Beyond Tomorrow (1962)—after Immortality, Inc. (1959) and The Status Civilization (1960)—is a wildly successful episodic novel that plays to his strengths as a short story author.  In a similar but less radical manner as George Alec Effinger’s What Entropy Means to Me (1972), Sheckley subverts the notion of narrative truth and by so doing explores the complex nature of Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. CXIII (Dangerous Visions + Holdstock + Stewart + Joseph)

Recent travels yield wonderful SF hauls—including one of the most famous post-apocalyptical novels of all time, George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949).  Thankfully my edition is graced with a gorgeous Lehr landscape—strange forms in the distances, crushed cars in the foreground.

The most famous SF anthology of all times—Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967).  As a proponent of the New Wave movement it’s about time that I snagged a copy (disclaimer before the cries of derision: I have already read numerous stories contained in the anthology).

An early Holdstock novel (I might get to that one soon)….

And a shot in the dark—M. K. Joseph’s The Hole in the Zero (1967).  John Clute (the noted SF critic) describes it such on SF Encyclopedia: it “begins as an apparently typical Space-Opera adventure into further dimensions at the edge of the Universe, but quickly reveals itself as a linguistically brilliant, complex exploration of the nature of the four personalities involved as they begin out of their own resources to shape the low-probability regions into which they have tumbled. Ultimately the novel takes on allegorical overtones. As an examination of the metaphorical potentials of sf language and subject matter, it is a significant contribution to the field.”  Sounds intriguing to me…

Thoughts?

1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Voices of Time and Other Stories, J. G. Ballard (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

J. G. Ballard’s second short story collection, Voices of Time and Other Stories (1962), is only ever so slightly less brilliant than his first, Billenium (1962).   The stories are often linked thematically: exploring post-apocalyptical landscapes,  rituals in the face of death, urban alienation, mental fragmentation.   Scientists test whether humans can live without sleep, strange megaliths populate the volcanic landscapes of an alien planet, residual sounds are gathered in city dumps, and new ultra modern housing complexes facilitate detachment from the real world…

Highly recommended for all fans of literary, thought-provoking, and moody SF.   Ballard is one of the most routinely Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXI (Effinger + Farmer + Malzberg + anthology)

Two remaining books from the $1 hardback sale at my local bookstore….

A collection of Malzberg stories!

Another novel by one of my favorite SF authors, George Alec Effinger (i.e. his amazing metafictional novel What Entropy Means to Me (1972) blew me away)…

And finally an overpopulation/ecological disaster themed collection containing some great authors–Pamela Zoline, J. G. Ballard, Katherine MacLean, Kit Reed, Zelazny, etc.

Thoughts?

1. The Unreasoning Mask, Philip José Farmer (1981)

(Artifact’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Fantasy Acquisitions No. I (Hoban + Peake + Eddison)

Something different!

I have always had a soft sport for fantasy (mostly the non-Tolkein ripoff type) à la Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan (1946), Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane (1977), Jeff VanderMeer’s Shriek: An Afterword (2006).  Yes, as a kid I read tons of “standard fanasy” i.e. almost all those horrid Wheel of Time novels + Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow & Thorn  sequence, etc. etc.  And then I discovered SF and my reading parterns shifted drastically….

Over the past few months I’ve collected the two sequels to Titus Groan and a few Russell Hoban novels—my site name Joachim Boaz is  partially derived from Hoban’s remarkable The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973).

I’m not sure if I’ll review these novels here but, I might read Peake’s Gormenghast (1950) soon.

Thoughts?

1. Pilgermann, Russell Hoban (1983)

(Rowena’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CX (Kornbluth + Pohl + Cowper + Hersey + Asimov anthology of short SF)

A nice batch—some more from the $1 hardback sale at my local bookstore, one procured via abebooks, and one from a friend.  I grabbed Cowper’s The Road to Corlay (1978) after seeing two solid reviews from my friends at Speculiction… [review here] and Porpourri of Science Fiction Literature [review here].  I enjoyed Cowper’s later  novel Profundis (1979).

I had no idea the Pulitzer-winning writer and journalist John Hersey from dystopic SF allegories…

And, a collection of early work from the fruitful partnership of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth…  With a gorgeous Richard Powers cover!

I’ve always enjoyed really short SF stories so I look forward to devouring Asimov and Conklin collection (perhaps in stages due to its length).

Enjoy the covers!

Thoughts?

1. The Wonder Effect, C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: The Gamesman, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Ed Soyka’s cover for the 1975 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

“The Game is not a metaphor. The Game is not a closed system which represents something larger; but the choices made within its pathways are exactly that, choices which have to do with the immediate outcome. It would be a mistake to think of the success or failure in the Game having anything to do with the world. There are not metaphors. There are no outer significances. There is merely the Game itself and what it accomplishes upon its participants” (37).

In Jorge Luis Borges’ 1941 short story, “The Library of Babel” the universe is conceived of as a vast library stretching in all directions.  In this spectacular environment—an endless series of hexagonal rooms, each one with the same number of shelves with the same number of books with the same number of letters inscribed on each page, etc. Borges brings into sharp, and unsettling relief, complex metaphysical speculations.

In The Gamesman (1975) Barry N. Malzberg creates a similarly sculpted world with two bifurcated Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIX (Holland + Snyder + Malzberg 2x)

A grab bag of risk (Cecelia Holland + Guy Snyder) and great reward (Barry N. Malzberg)!  I would love to know what you think.  I know Holland’s Floating Worlds (1976) was picked up by the SF Masterwork series put out by Gollancz but I know next to nothing about the novel.

And, well, Malzberg is my favorite SF author (metafiction + experimentation + Freud + recursive elements) so I know what I’m getting with his stuff!

Thoughts?

1. Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)

(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading