In my youth I read Ursula Le Guin like a madman—somewhere in the intervening years I misplaced my copies of her short story collections. So, while voyaging to a nearby city (with Half Price Books) I decided to snag one—The Compass Rose (1982) contains mostly 70s short stories. Excited.
I have been presently impressed with *some* of Philip José Farmer’s work—namely, Strange Relations (1960)—-so I could not resist a “best of” collection.
I am perhaps most excited about David Gerrold’s edited collection Generation: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction (1972). Contains a wide range (and almost equal ratio of male/female authors) of fascinating stories.
I bought C. M. MacApp’s Secret of the Sunless World (1969) due to the title and the amazing Berkey cover. Now that I sat down and transcribed the back cover I rather dissuaded from picking it up anytime soon…
1. The Book of Philip José Farmer, Philip José Farmer (revised 1982, 1973)
(James Warhola’s cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading
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…
1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart (1949)
(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading
(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
(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
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!
1. Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)
(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading
(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1971 edition)
3.25/5 (Slightly Above Average)
“There is an element of terror in any natural object that does not exist in its proper place. Wentik experienced the full force of this as he stood in the dark. A hand grows from a table, and an ear from a wall. A maze is constructed to sophisticated mathematical formula, yet is housed in a tumbledown shack. A minor official terrorizes me, and a man tries to fly a helicopter without vanes. Land exist in future time, through I feel and believe instinctively that I am in the present. What else will this place do to me? (83)”
Christopher Priest’s first novel Indoctrinaire (1970) explores the mystery of a vast perfectly round plain with a series of strange buildings that appears in the middle of the Amazonian jungle. Seemingly displaced in time, the transformed landscape is not only a visible sign of the ecological transformation the world will undergo but also, less visibly, the unseen but pernicious scars Continue reading
(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1979 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
My first exposure to Ian Watson’s extensive SF catalog could not have been more impressive. The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) is up there with Robert Sheckley’s Store of Infinity (1960) and J. G. Ballard’s Billenium (1962) as the best overall collection of stories that I have encountered in the history of this site.
The collection is filled with narrative experimentation (“Programmed Loved Story,” “Agoraphobia, A.D. 2000,” etc), some awe inspiring ideas (“The Very Slow Time Machine,” “The Girl Who Was Art” etc.), a few delightful allegories (“Our Loves So Truly Meridional,” “My Soul Swims in a Goldfish Bowl”), and a handful of more traditional SF stories that hint at anthropological Continue reading