Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIX (Haldeman + Chalker + Oliver + Anderson)

December 3, 2013 § 32 Comments

Some Chicago finds from Powell Books (Hyde Park)…  I own too many SF novels in my to read pile (I have close to 300 waiting to be read so I am going to try to put a stop on rampant — yes, they are cheap — purchases).

Last one of these for a while?  Should I take bets?

Some titles definitely not my normal fare — I’ve read Haldeman’s The Forever War (1975), Forever Peace (1999), and Forever Free (1999) but not a single one of his short stories so Infinite Dreams (1978) is a welcome addition to my collection.

Chad Oliver is one of the “second-tier” greats whom I’ve not read…. And Chalker falls in that category as well.  Poul Anderson’s The Byworlder (1971) is generally not considered one of his best but it did snag a Nebula award nomination.


1. Infinite Dreams, Joe Haldeman (1978)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1979 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Singularity Station, Brian N. Ball (1973)

November 17, 2013 § 18 Comments


(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1973 edition)

4/5 (Good)

If one were to distill 70s space opera in a decanter filled with SF pulp the result would be Singularity Station (1973).  Combined with the dynamic Chris Foss cover — I’ve never enjoyed his work but it does embody the vigor and explosiveness of the novel — Brian N. Ball’s vision is an veritable adolescent SF wet dream filled with robots, cutting edge science (in this case, 60s speculation on the nature of black holes), a love interest (not the 30s/40s pulp versions) in distress, a mad scientist, and inventive spaceships and space stations.

70s pulp at its « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: A New Classic SF Review Blog to add to your list

November 13, 2013 § 33 Comments

MPorcius, a frequent and well-read commentator on my site, has started transferring his numerous amazon reviews and writing new reviews of classic SF (a substantial portion is pre-1980s) to his blog.  Please visit him and comment on his posts!

queue rant: I’ve noticed a surprising lack of frequently updated classic SF blogs online.  Yes, many bloggers occasionally dabble in the distant era of SF glory or publish yet another review of the obligatory masterpieces because they appear on a some “best of” list (Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc).  However, few are devoted to the period and make it a point to write reviews of books that very few people will ever actually read due to their obscurity i.e. blogs that don’t sell out by churning out reviews of new Tor releases (I have declined their offer) or endless 4/5 or 5/5 starred let’s pat each other on the back reviews of self-published (and generally awful) ebooks « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Eye[s] in the Sky, Part II

October 31, 2013 § 21 Comments


(Peter Goodfellow’s cover for the 1979 edition of The Moment of Eclipse (1970), Brian Aldiss)

Make sure to take a peek at Part I if you enjoyed this collection!

In Part I I described how I was inspired by Ed Valigursky’s stunning and powerful cover — with its giant eye, running figures, and perspective lines drawn across the artificial field heightening the tension — to look through my image collection and find similar examples.  Since I made the last post I’ve collected quite a few more examples (from my own collection and image collections online) along similar lines.

Mitchell Hooks’ cover for the 1958 edition of The Big Eye (1949) by Max Ehrlich has long been one of my favorite covers and it has cropped up in various posts over the years….  The uncredited cover for the 1969 edition of The Cosmic Eye « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXV (Heinlein + Sheckley + Anderson + Zebrowski)

October 27, 2013 § 3 Comments

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) « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: There Will Be Time, Poul Anderson (1972)

August 16, 2013 § 13 Comments

(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Nominated for the 1973 Hugo Award for Best Novel

(Hugo Award related tangent: how Silverberg’s Dying Inside lost to Asimov’s The Gods Themselves is beyond me.  There Will Be Time is the lesser of the three)

Frequent readers of my reviews will have noticed my general dislike of time travel themed SF.  I have two central qualms: Firstly, I am frustrated by the tendency of authors to expound endlessly on the nuances of the particular temporal theory they have chosen to deploy;  secondly, the common obsession with “understanding how the past really was” strikes me as an incredibly superficial/fallacious analysis of the nature of history and historical thinking — individuals today cannot understand “the true nature of the present” simply by existing in it yet alone a different historical period.  Rather, perspective taking, « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXVIII (Varley + Cherryh + Cummings + et. al)

August 5, 2013 § 17 Comments

Some fun finds!  Perhaps surprisingly, I still haven’t read Clarke’s “The Sentinel” (1951) so I was happy to find it in a collection collated by Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest — Spectrum 3 (1963).  Even more appealing are the famous Poul Anderson, J. G. Ballard, and Murray Leinster tales in the same volume…  The entire Spectrum collection (I-V) brings together some fantastic works.

John Varley is one of the important 70s writers that I still haven’t read. Thus, despite the egregious cover, I snatched his collection of 70s stories, The Persistence of Vision (1978)…  I look forward to diving into this one.

Also, C. J. Cherryh was one of my favorite authors as a teen so it’s always nice to come across one of her works I hadn’t devoured yet — in this case, her second novel Brothers of Earth (1976).

1. The Persistence of Vision, John Varley (1978)

(Jim Burns’ cover for « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Brain Wave, Poul Anderson (magazine publication 1953)

July 26, 2013 § 28 Comments

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1954 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

I have long been a fan of Poul Anderson’s functionalist yet engaging SF adventures.  He is one of the masters at integrating social commentary (often on the impact of future technology) into the framework of the early Cold War influenced SF story without unduly weighing it down.  Brain Wave (1954) is  a good example of both his virtues and faults.

Brain Wave in a nutshell: a fascinating premise,  a somewhat frustrating ending, dubious social commentary, while the incredibly brief length (even for the 50s)  and uneven pacing suggest heavy cuts by editor…  That said, I suspect other famous works — such as the Daniel Keyes’ Flowers of Algernon (novelette: 1959, novel: 1966) and perhaps even « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Time and Stars, Poul Anderson (1964)

June 16, 2013 § 15 Comments


(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1965 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Time and Stars (1964) is a wonderful collection of short works by one of the greats, Poul Anderson.  Anderson is best known for hard science fiction novels such as Tau Zero (1970) as well as fast paced pulp adventures exemplified by his Dominic Flandry (à la James Bond in space) sequence which he started in the 50s.

Only one of the six shorts in the collection was subpar — ‘Escape from Orbit’ (1962) – which did not rise above the traditional we need to rescue some stranded astronauts plot.  All the others — for example, Hugo winning novella and well-told tale of a balkanized American Pacific coast ‘No Truce of Kings’ (1963), the fantastic evolved mechanical life forms in ‘Epilogue’ (1962), and the wit of ‘The Critique of Impure Reason’ (1962) — make the collection worthwhile for fans of classic science fiction (and obviously, fans of Poul Anderson).  The novella ‘Epilogue’ is the best of Anderson’s works « Read the rest of this entry »

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