March 9, 2014 § 4 Comments
I do not own many SF magazines from the 40s-70s. The reasons are as follows: 1) Novels tended to be serialized which means I have to track down multiple magazines to read an entire novel. 2) The novels were often radically altered for their first book form publication (think, Herbert’s “Dune World” (1963) that later became Dune (1965). Thus, I rather own the later novel form that wasn’t as constrained by the strictures of magazine form. 3) I love short story collections and would rather own the entire collection than read a singleton story.
However, while looking through the February 1966 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction I discovered that it contained late Jack Vance’s novelette “The Mountains of Magnatz,” part of his famous Dying Earth sequence of stories. And unlike many of the other Dying Earth shorts it was NEVER republished in a later collection or « Read the rest of this entry »
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 16, 2014 § 5 Comments
My first collection (and a big one at that) of Norman Spinrad short stories! I loved The Iron Dream (1972). I’ve also wanted to give Anne McCaffrey’s non-Pern SF a shot (loved Pern as a kid). Although, it does look rather silly, catlike aliens are generally not my idea of fun. Another novel by James Gunn, one he claims is his best…. And, one of those impulsive type acquisitions of unknown quality, The Power of X (1968) by Arthur Sellings.
1. Kampus, James E. Gunn (1977)
(Bob Larkin’s cover for the 1977 edition) « 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 26, 2013 § 3 Comments
(Stephen Hickman’s cover for the 1978 edition)
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
Like so many SF fans, my first exposure to Joan D. Vinge’s work was via her wonderful Hugo-winning novel The Snow Queen (1980). Eventually I found a copy of her first published novel, The Outcasts of Heaven Belt (1978), which had an intriguing premise but a less than satisfactory delivery (poor characterizations, pacing, etc). The collection Fireship (1978) is comprised of two novellas: the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated “Fireship” (1978) and one of her earlier works, “Mother and Child” (1975).
The title story is the lesser of the two despite its (dare I say dubious) award nominations. It’s a light-hearted and unchallenging proto-cyperpunk « Read the rest of this entry »
December 5, 2013 § 18 Comments
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition — there is some speculation that it might be a collaboration with Leo and Diane Dillon)
3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)
Miriam Allen deFord–one of the more prolific SF short story authors of the 50s-70s whose works appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, If, Fantastic Universe, Galaxy, Worlds of Tomorrow, etc–deserves a Gollancz Masterworks volume. But, as Ian Sales has pointed out so forcefully in his recent article (here), despite the number of prolific female SF authors in the 50s-70s they were rarely republished and are perhaps the least read group of SF authors for modern audiences. There are some exceptions but few readers can name a female author pre-Ursula Le Guin. deFord’s shorts were collected in only two volumes, Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971) and both print runs were limited to the first year of publication.
Informed by her feminist activism (she was an important campaigner for birth control) and her earlier career in the newspapers, deFord’s stories tackle themes such as overpopulation, racism, colonialism, gender issues, sexism, and alienation. Her works range from deceptively simple allegories to future histories vast in scope and complexity (for short stories). Her female characters are almost all individualistic, resourceful, and highly educated–they often struggle against increasingly regimented/mechanized/homogenized societies in order to raise families in addition to their careers. In short, deFord advocates forcefully the right to self-determination « Read the rest of this entry »
November 24, 2013 § 21 Comments
(Mel Hunter’s cover for the 1956 edition)
3/5 (collated rating: Average)
Although Theodore Sturgeon is generally considered a master of the SF short form, his collection A Way Home (1956) contains only two worthwhile stories – ”Thunder and Roses” (1947) and ”Bulkhead” (1955). The rest I was either unable to finish or struggled to muddle through over the course of the last two or so weeks. Fortunately, the near masterpiece ”Bulkhead” was almost worth the pain induced by the intelligent dog related subgenre of SF manifest in “Tiny and the Monster” (1947) or the cute accidentally destructive hurkle kittens of ”The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast” (1949).
At this stage in my recent endeavor to brush up on the best of the 50s short story wordsmiths, I place Sturgeon below Robert Sheckley, Brian Aldiss, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Miriam Allen deFord, Lester del Rey, Walter M. Miller, Jr., C. M. Kornbluth, and Frederik Pohl. (shocking to some, I know!).
However, before I make a more definitive conclusion I call on my readers to list what you consider his best short work « Read the rest of this entry »
Book Review: And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons), Michael Bishop (1976)
November 19, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Jonathan Weld’s cover for the 1976 edition)
Michael Bishop’s And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees (variant title: Beneath the Shattered Moons) (1976) is a melancholic and allegorically inclined parable about a coming cataclysm that threatens a programmed and hierarchically rigid society (accomplished via genetic modification). Bishop’s voice is an intensely humanistic once, futuristic technology is present but not a central concern…. The simple but effective plot is the perfect vehicle for his moralistic ruminations: a man forced into action, a world compelled — despite the external forces at play — to adapt.
And Strange at Ecbatan the Trees is the first of Michael Bishop’s works I have read and I am definitely intrigued enough to place his supposedly superior Nebula-nominated first novel, Funeral for the « Read the rest of this entry »