Tag Archives: paperbacks

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

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXIV (Wilhelm + Spinrad + Ball + Vance)

Another wonderful batch including two novellas by Kate Wilhelm in the collection Abyss (1971).

A Norman Spinrad novel, The Men in the Jungle (1967), courtesy of the MPorcius, the proprietor of MPorcius Fiction Log.  I sent him a portion of my wall of shame (i.e. worst SF novels) and got a few worthwhile ones in return…

Another Vance novel courtesy of MPorcius as well—one of the Demon Prince novels.  Do I have to read them in order?

And Brian N. Ball’s first novel, Sundog (1965).  I thought Singularity Station (1973) was unadulterated pulp fun.

So the Spinrad novel critiques pulp and Ball revels in pulp…

Thoughts?

1. Abyss, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

(Lou Feck’s cover for the 1973 edition) 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

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

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Human Transformations + Transfigurations

LNHRZNSEB1974

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for Alien Horizons (1974), William F. Nolan)

I have been gathering this series of SF covers for a while—the human shape contorting, manipulated, transforming into in-human forms (trees, keys, insects, etc).  Some are more metaphoric, for example Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1970 edition of A Century of Great Short Science Fiction Novels (1964).  While a few are clearly aliens which look “human”—Charles Shield’s incredibly uncanny cover for the 1979 edition of Fireflood and Other Stories (1979) by Vonda N. McIntyre….

All hint at bigger mysteries, and seduce with their uncertain Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXII (Spinrad + Vonnegut, Jr. + Mitchison + Anthology)

I’m a proponent of book store traveling (travel where bookstores are the first target).  Two Half Price Books and a quality independent used books store yielded what will be the first of many acquisition posts of worthy SF.

Who could resist a $5 signed copy of Spinrad’s masterpiece Bug Jack Barron (1967)?  Or a normally pricey edition of Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962) for $2?  And some Vonnegut, Jr. and a quality anthology containing the best of New Worlds….

Thoughts?

1. Bug Jack Barron, Norman Spinrad (serialized 1967)

(Alex Gnidziejko’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading

Book Review: Transfigurations, Michael Bishop (1979)

(Mike Hinge’s cover for the 1979 edition)

4.25/5 (Good)

Note: A slightly shorter version of this review will appear in Big Sky, # 4 (a fanzine put together by Pete Young).

On the surface, Michael Bishop’s anthropologically inclined science fiction appears deceptively simple. In his first novel and unacknowledged masterpiece A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975), the premise (moving an alien people from a planet) evolves into a vast and complex anthropological tapestry filled with stories within stories creating an almost claustrophobic doubling of characters. In Stolen Faces (1977) the biological mystery of a virulent disease grows, tumor-like, into a brilliantly nightmarish exploration of bodily and societal decay and the gravimetric forces

Continue reading

Book Review: False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)

(Gary Friedman’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

“One of the women wasn’t dead yet.  Her ravaged body hung naked from a broken billboard.  Her legs were splayed wide and anchored with ropes; legs and belly were bloody, there were heavy bruises on her face and breasts, and she had been branded with a large “M” for mutant” (1).

Before there was Mad Max (1979) dir. George Miller there was Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s False Dawn (1978)… In 1972 she published her brutal and terrifying short story “False Dawn” in Thomas N. Scortia’s anthology Strange Bedfellows  (1972).  A few years later the work was deemed important enough to be included in Pamela Sargent’s famous anthology Women of Wonder (1975).  This story forms the first chapter of her post-apocalyptical novel False Dawn (1978).

In the 60s highly inventive post-apocalyptical stories flourished: for example, J. G. Ballard’s masterpiece The Drowned World (1962) filled with images of uterine spaces 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