February 16, 2014 § 5 Comments
I while back I put out a call for SF novels/short works on immortality to add to a preliminary list I put together. Due to my lack of knowledge of newer SF and uncanny ability to forget relevant previously read works I eagerly added your suggestions. And Marta Randall’s Islands (1976) motivated me to finally post it…
Here’s the LIST!
If you can think of any that I might be missing be sure to « Read the rest of this entry »
February 15, 2014 § 13 Comments
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Nominated for the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel
*Note: I read the 1980 Pocket edition which, according to Locus, was modified (to what extent I do not know) from the original 1976 first edition.
Marta Randall, the first female president of SFWA, is one of numerous female science fiction writers from the 70s that are seldom read today. A while back Ian Sales alerted me to Randall’s work in his very positive review of A City in the North (1976) on SF Mistressworks. Recently, while looking for unread works on my immortality-themed SF list (here), I came across the Nebula-nominated Islands (1976).
One of the more effective ways to write about the ennui « Read the rest of this entry »
January 31, 2014 § 32 Comments
One of the better groups of acquisitions in a while! After Katherine MacLean’s masterpiece Missing Man (1975) I was very excited to come across a collection of her late 40s and 50s short stories. Unfortunately, my edition — from 1973— had such an awful cover that I couldn’t put in on this post. Instead, I put the first edition cover by Paul Lehr which is simply gorgeous….
Ballard collections are always welcome! I have all of his short works in a single volume but the Powers cover is top-notch.
One of Ian Watson’s most famous novels…
And an unknown work by Brian Aldiss, Enemies of the System (1978)… Has anyone read it? I suspect it will be the weakest book of the bunch.
1. The Diploids, Katherine MacLean (1962)
(Uncredited — but looks like Lehr — cover for the 1962 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)
January 1, 2014 § 23 Comments
Everyone likes lists! And I do too…. This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year. Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.
Top Ten Novels
1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).
2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel. Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….
December 28, 2013 § 9 Comments
(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1973 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Caveat: If a perverse (and Freudian) metafictional (and literary) retelling of Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby’s Fantastic Voyage replete with filmic flashbacks does not intrigue you then stay away….
There are few SF authors who utilize metafictional elements as gleefully and effectively as Barry N. Malzberg. Beyond Apollo (1972), his masterpiece, is a labyrinthine sequence of 67 short chapters of a novel written by the main character who may or may not be recounting real (imagined?) events. While in In the Enclosure (1973) the excruciating paranoia that permeates the pages and the impossible escapes that transpire, recounted as if they were entries in a diary, could indeed be generated by an external force—the exact nature of which is unknowable—implanting memories. Revelations (1972) was entirely comprised of a sequence of documents (interview transcripts, diary fragments, epistolary fragments) « Read the rest of this entry »
December 23, 2013 § 10 Comments
(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1968 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
By the late 60s Kate Wilhelm’s SF moved from generally uninspiring pulp (à la the collection The Mile-Long Spaceship) to psychologically taught and emotive mood pieces exploring the almost existential malaise of daily existence and the disturbing effects of “programmed” lives (especially the housewife). The fourteen short-stories in The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968) (the term “speculative fiction” was coined by Judith Merril in the 60s) comprise a snapshot of Wilhelm’s best New Wave work. It should be noted that not all are SF.
Although some are less engaging than others, her harrowing portrayal of starlets subjected to endless psychological torments at the whims of their viewers in ”Baby, You Were Great” (1967) (Nebula nominated) and the evocative tapestry of daydreams « Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2013 § 31 Comments
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Crompton Divided (variant title: The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton) (1978), Robert Sheckley)
Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1979 edition of Robert Sheckley’s Crompton Divided (1978) was the inspiration for this post. I found the cover many years ago while looking through Lehr’s entire (mostly brilliant catalogue) and was intrigued. The man, comprised of puzzle-like pieces that slowly morph into the swirls of his clothes, stares at us with hybridized eyes — a planet, a pupil — while one missing puzzle piece allows the viewer a glimpse of a barren landscape. His brain, entirely a puzzle, is complete, but are his senses crumbling?
Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1971 edition of Larry Niven’s collection All the Myriad Ways (1971) is even more fantastic — the puzzle pieces (bones, faces, limbs) dangle in the air « Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2013 § 10 Comments
This post is a call for readers to submit their favorite immortality themed science fiction NOT included on my list below (and even examples they did not care for so I can make this a more substantial resource). I’ll make a page with all the information I receive for easy consultation soon (INDEX of similar pages/articles).
A while back I started gathering a list of titles — via SF Encyclopedia, other online resources, and my own shelves — on immortality themed SF. I have always been intrigued by the social space (one plagued by violence and despair or buoyed by the hope of a better future) that the possibility of immortality might generate.
I would argue that the single best example of social effects that the possibility of immortality might create is Clifford D. Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967). In similar fashion, James Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) takes place in a world where immortals do exist, they skirt « Read the rest of this entry »
November 26, 2013 § 4 Comments
(George Barr’s cover for the 1972 edition)
At the Seventh Level (1972) is part of a loose sequence of novels that feature Trigalactic Intelligence Service agent Coyote Jones and his voyages to various worlds. Although this sequence ostensibly has the trappings of SF space opera, Suzette Haden Elgin subverts the genre conventions so that the premise functions as a polemical feminist text with satirical underpinnings. At the Seventh Level is an important installment in a long line of “women as slaves trapped in vast repressive patriarchy propped up by appeals to tradition and brute force” type novels which, some might argue, culminated in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). It is important to note that there were many novels on similar themes before Atwood’s acknowledged masterpiece hit « Read the rest of this entry »