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.
1. Pilgermann, Russell Hoban (1983)
(Rowena’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading
(Richard Weaver’s cover for the 1972 edition of Dreadful Sanctuary (1948), Eric Frank Russell)
THE SKULL. The bones of the dead, the empty sockets gazing at us, a deathly gaze…. I have collected for your [horror filled] enjoyment a vast variety of SF skulls: the moon mutated into a skull, the half-skinned skull as part of mysterious contraptions, photographs of real human skulls interspersed with statuary and wigs, bizarre pink skulls pulsating with green radiation-esque Continue reading
(Roger Zimmerman’s cover for Universe 11 (1981), first place of publication for “The Quickening”)
My ninth installment of my guest post series on The Science Fiction of Michael Bishop comes via Max (twitter: @MaxCarnduff) at the fiction (and occasionally SF/F) review site Pechorin’s Journal. His incredibly erudite review of Anna Kavan’s Ice (1967) is the reason I have not tried to review the work myself…. Follow him on twitter and check out his site!
For this series he selected the novelette “The Quickening” (1981) which won the Nebula for Best Novelette (1982) (one of the two Nebula wins Bishop has under his belt) and was nominated for the Hugo for best novelette that same year. The novelette appears in Bishop’s most recent retrospective collection put out by Subterranean Press, The Door Gunner and Other Flights of Fancy (2012) that desperately needs an eBook/Kindle version!
“The Quickening” (1981)
When Joachim approached me about participating in his series of guest reviews of works by Michael Bishop I was delighted, but worried I wouldn’t be able to get a review to him on time (work, life, that sort of thing).
Well, I was right on both counts. I was right to be delighted because Michael Bishop’s a writer with real talent Continue reading
Part 1 of many: Half Price Books in Dallas, TX (the second best bookstore, after Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI for SF I have ever come across). Gift card courtesy of fiancé’s mother = LOTS OF SCIENCE FICTION. There could not be a better gift….
Everyone reads Robert Zelazny’s This Immortal (1966) and Lord of Light (1967), but who has read Isle of the Dead (1969)? Thematically it seems similar to Lord of Light… I have high hopes. James White’s SF is always above average — and a fund cover from Dean Ellis makes that an auto-buy. Although I disliked David Gerrold’s Space Skimmer (1972) my father swears Yesterday’s Children (1972) is somewhat readable.
I enjoyed Joan D. Vinge’s The Summer Queen (1980), tolerated her first novel The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), so I suspect her two novella collection Fireship (1978) will be worthwhile…
1. Isle of the Dead, Robert Zelazny (1969)
(Leo and Dianne Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading
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) Continue reading
(Uncredited cover for the 1961 edition of Earth Abides (1949), George R. Stewart)
Note: if anyone can identify the artist for the first three downright spectacular covers I’d be very very happy. I’m positive that they match stylistically (the vague human shape, the cityscape, the brush strokes, the textures). Two of the three covers were made for Signet press and all three are from the early 1960s. I suspect if I perused the covers from the Signet catalogue from that era I’d find even more…. Perhaps it’s the work of Sanford Kossin? He was producing covers for Signet around the same time.
And now The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape Continue reading
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 edition)
4/5 (Collated rating: Good)
My only previous exposure to Fritz Leiber was his enjoyable and highly experimental Hugo-winning novel The Big Time (1958) — an unusual story (evoking a one-act play) whose characters are soldiers recruited from all eras of history relaxing in between missions during a vast temporal war. The same sort of invention and incisive wit abounds in the collection A Pail of Air (1951). Against a post-apocalyptical backdrop that runs throughout most of the stories, Leiber’s stories are chimeric (and satirical) parables on a vast spectrum of themes — the mechanization of the future, gender relations, endless war, media saturation… The stories shift between whimsical delight and gut-wrenching despair.
This collection of eleven stories from the early 50s to the early 60s is highly recommended for all SF fans — especially the title story “A Pail of Air” (1951), “The Foxholes of Mars” (1952), Continue reading
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
The Deep (1975) was John Crowley’s first published novel and his first of three SF works from the 70s (The Deep, Beasts, Engine Summer). He is best known for Engine Summer (1979) and his complex/literary fantasy – Little, Big (1981) and the Ægypt sequence (1987-2007). In the two novels of his I’ve read (the other is Beasts), Crowley’s prose is characterized by an almost icy detachment, an adept construction of unusual images, and dialogue that says only what is needed.
The Deep deploys, in minimalistic fashion, the standard tropes of the fantasy genre mixed with distinctly SF elements: namely, an android visitor whose blood “was alive — it flowed Continue reading
(Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for the 1974 edition)
4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
Ellison’s stories punch where it hurts. Approaching Oblivion (1974) is filled with transfixing tales about violent future racism (“Knox”), humanity’s last moments (“Kiss of Fire”), the desperate desire to change one’s own past (“One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty”), a last rebel against the militarizing system (“Silent in Gehanna”), and familial rivalry within a vast arcology (“Catman”), etc…
They are terrifying and vicious, immersive and gut-wrenching, and span from baroque far future speculations to near future warnings. Above all, they are well-written and intelligent. Many are infused with (pseudo) autobiographical content and lament the societal ills Continue reading