June 5, 2013 § 21 Comments
Gifts! From my fiancé!
Four more wonderful books… I can’t wait to read J. G. Ballard’s The Burning World (1964) and Poul Anderson’s short story collection Time and Stars (1964)… Ballard is a genius and Anderson is a solid writer who always produced fun plot-driven works (I suspect his Hugo nominated There Will Be Time (1973) will be similar). Also, despite my general frustration with Clifford D. Simak’s ouvre, I’m intrigued by Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967)….
Enjoy the two Powers covers!
1. The Burning World, J. G. Ballard (1964)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 first edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. LXV (Spinrad + Coney + Cummings + an anthology containing short stories by Pohl, Knight, Aldiss, et al.)
May 26, 2013 § 7 Comments
My first book from the 80s in many a year! But, I’m on a Norman Spinrad kick so when I saw it for one dollar at the store I had to snatch it up his post-apocalyptical vision Songs from the Stars (180)…. The premise is rather hokey but perhaps a quality writer like Spinrad can imbue it with some vigor.
I’m most excited about The Ninth Galaxy Reader, ed. Frederik Pohl (1966) (twelve short stories from the Galaxy Magazine) due the top-quality author line-up — Brian W. Aldiss, John Brunner, Richard Wilson, Damon Knight, Philip Kose farmer, Harry Harrison, Frederik Pohl, Lester Del Rey, Roger Zelazny, C. C. MacApp, Larry Niven, and R. A. Lafferty….
1. Songs from the Stars, Norman Spinrad (1980)
(Uncredited cover for the 1982 « Read the rest of this entry »
May 19, 2013 § 43 Comments
Here are my seven favorite metafictional science fiction novels. By metafiction I’m referring to devices such as breaking the fourth wall (characters addressing the audience), the author addressing the reader, a story about a writer writing a story, a story containing another work of fiction within it, a work where the narrator reveals himself or herself as the author of the story, narrative footnotes, etc….
I’d love to hear your favorites (they don’t have to be novels)!
Obviously, these types of experimental works only appeal to some readers (especially fans of the sci-fi New Wave movement of the late 60s and early 70s) but I personally love seeing experimentation in an often — dare I say — stylistically stale genre. Often, the metafictional aspects do not prevent authors from deploying traditional narratives.
My top seven (and an honorable mention):
1. Beyond Apollo, Brian N. Malzberg (1972) (REVIEW) — what you read is most likely the novel written by the main character. However, he’s most likely insane so attempting to get AT the true nature of his voyage to Venus is purposefully layered… Complicating the matter is how unreliable of a narrator he is and the fact that he’s tells many versions of the same story. Malzberg pokes fun at pulp science fiction throughout — which he clearly enjoyed as a child.
2. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner (1968) — the metafictional aspects are rather hidden in this New Wave masterpiece (my single favorite sci-fi novel). Brunner’s vast (in scope and depth) mosaic of invented book fragments, advertising jingles, and narrative portions are interspersed with news articles taken from his own day — including the school shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. Of course, as readers we’re geared to imagining that everything « 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
(Don Puchatz’s cover for the 1967 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
(note: I apologize for the extended time I’ve spent away from my blog – preparing for my dissertation proposal defense concurrent with a massive influx of grading derailed my sci-fi reading for the last few weeks)
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 »
January 16, 2013 § 15 Comments
More Christmas gifts and winter break purchases….
Another Herbert non-Dune novel with a great vat baby fetus cover by the indomitable Lehr…
Another Pohl + Kornbluth 50s satire about worlds sunk into savage degeneration….
A lesser known illustrated utopian space fable by the Pulitzer Prize winning Herman Wouk… I really have no idea what to expect from this one.
And an alternate history sci-fi adventure by Harry Harrison.
1. Tunnel Through the Deeps (variant title: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!), Harry Harrison (1972)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1974 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Sci-Fi Article: Barry N. Malzberg (b.1939): Metafiction and the Demystification of the Cult of the Astronaut
January 14, 2013 § 9 Comments
This was my recent guest post on Little Red Reviewer.
For those who didn’t see it I decided to post it here….
Barry N. Malzberg (b. 1939): Metafiction and the Demystification of the Cult of the Astronaut
In the World Book Encyclopedia Science Service publication The United States Astronauts and their Families: A Pictorial Presentation (1965), each astronaut is allotted a two-page spread replete with staged photos of their family life and hobbies. Otis L. Wiese, the editor of the volume, proclaims grandiosely “Man’s reach for the world of space is born of his insatiable curiosity about the unknown… his indomitable drive for accomplishment… his instinctive response to a challenge. Astronauts-Husbands-Fathers: these men are the men featured here but it’s essentially as family men that we portray them” (i).
The photographs are fascinating. Roger B. Chaffee’s wife Martha teaches him lunar geography (22), L. Gordon Cooper, Jr. sits at the helm of his speedboat Bluebonnet which is capable of reaching 80 knots (28), in another photo him and his family spend time with their German shepherd (29), Donn F. Eisele teaches his daughter “the finer points of marksmanship” (35), while Alan B. Shepard, Jr. plays piano tunes for his daughters (61) and in the facing image shakes hands with John F. Kennedy (61).
Their families illustrate the epitome of the American family: the ultra-masculine man with his cars and boats, the supportive wife facilitating « Read the rest of this entry »
November 4, 2012 § 15 Comments
4.5/5 (Very Good)
The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969) is an experimental (but approachable) science fiction fable set in a world which, at least on the surface, is very much like our own. The buildings remain, food dispensers still dispense food, and undisturbed store shelves are fully stocked. However, the majority of the animals have disappeared and people are almost all gone. Cannibalism is hinted at. A few other individuals flit on the outskirts of the narrative, phantom-like, unsubstantial in their physicality. Are they hallucinations, or external viewers of the spectacle who intrude when needed before vanishing with no evidence of their arrival?
Josephine Saxton deftly utilizes the coming of age narrative, « 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 »
September 16, 2012 § 4 Comments
(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1971 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
(*some spoilers due to the limited nature of the plot*)
Another D. G. Compton novel, another wonderful (and terrifying) experience… The only one of his novels so far that has failed to hold my interest was The Missionaries (1971), a lackluster satire on religion. The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (variant title: The Unsleeping Eye) (1973) is a masterpiece and Farewell, Earth’s Bliss (1966) and Synthajoy (1968) are close behind.
Farewell, Earth’s Bliss is best described as a character study of a group of convicts sent to Mars and their attempts to integrate into an incredibly repressive and conservative society (derived in part to to the extreme dangers of the Martian environment) — in short, a piece of race and religion themed social science fiction. Be warned, there is little to no action. As with most of Compton’s works, near future environments are the perfect vehicle for societal ruminations « Read the rest of this entry »