Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CII (Disch 2xs + Anderson + Pollack)

April 24, 2014 § 11 Comments

My fiancé picked these up for me as she perambulated through Dallas, TX—the birthplace of Half Price Books.  And, easily the best one in the country.

Two more Disch novels to add to my collection (I only owned Camp Concentration).  The cover and cover blurb for On Wings of Song (1979) is terrifyingly bad—the contents are supposedly magisterial.

I have no idea if Rachel Pollack’s Golden Vanity (1980) will be any good—looks like average space opera.

And, who can resist Poul Anderson?

Thoughts?

1. Echo Round His Bones, Thomas M. Disch (1966)

ECHORB1967

(Uncredited cover for the 1967 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. C (Bishop + A. E. Van Vogt + Pangborn + Pratt)

April 5, 2014 § 11 Comments

Another Michael Bishop novel for my upcoming guest post series (announcement coming soon)!  Irresistible after the brilliant Stolen Faces (1977) and his masterpiece A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975)….

The rest are fun but not high on my list of must reads.  I’ve never been a fan of A. E. Van Vogt (could not tolerate the inarticulate labyrinth of a novel The World of Null-A) but the Powers cover on The War Against the Rull (1959) was fun.

I’ve heard good things about Edgar Pangborn, although people seldom discuss West of Eden (1953), perhaps with good reason.

Fletcher Pratt’s Invaders from Rigel (1932) is one of those AMAZING covers but incredibly dubious reads.  Even the back cover is rather non-sensical.

Thoughts?

1. Transfigurations, Michael Bishop (1979)

TRNSFGRTND1980

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

Uncollected short story reviews: Joe Haldeman’s “Two Men and a Rock” (1973), A. G. Moran’s “Close Your Eyes and Stare at Your Memories” (1973)

March 30, 2014 § 2 Comments

My first in a new series of reviews that aim to bring to your attention short stories that appeared in magazines (I have substantially more due to Chris’ generosity—go visit him at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased) but where never collected in later English language volumes.  I’ve decided to pair a known author (in this case Joe Haldeman) with a lesser known author (in this case A. G. Moran) published in Amazing Science Fiction.

amazing_science_fiction_197303

(Mike Hinge’s cover for the March 1973 issue of Amazing Science Fiction, ed. Ted White)

“Two Men and a Rock” by Joe Haldeman (1973) 3/5 (Vaguely Average):  Joe Haldeman, of The Forever War (1975) fame, tells a straight-laced Hard SF tale of two “fools who would rather die breathing space then never see the stars” (87).  The place in space is a station in an asteroid rich region.  Four prospectors, sixteen sappers, seven pilots, and a variety of secretaries live on the station—the job, ride out to an asteroid on a rickety sled, carrying a pile of nukes, without its own « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Existential Crisis

March 23, 2014 § 15 Comments

PRTNTRRRRM1968

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition of Operation Terror (1962), Murray Leinster)

Barry N. Malzberg’s depressed/depraved astronauts have inspired me to make a post! (unfortunately, the covers for his books do not really fit the bill).

Guy Billot’s cover for the 1975 edition of Brian Stableford’s Man in a Cage (1975) perfectly embodies the feel of existential crisis—man, hemmed in by a single red line, raises his arms against the star-studded sky in anguish.  The nature of the crisis is left oblique.  I have selected a variety of covers that convey—with varying degrees of success/precision—this same mental state.

I admit that some might not fit the bill exactly—for example, in the uncredited « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Ancient, My Enemy, Gordon R. Dickson (1974)

March 15, 2014 § 14 Comments

(Peter Rauch’s cover for the 1974 edition)

2.75/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Average)

Between 1974 and 1990 Gordon R. Dickson’s collection Ancient, My Enemy (1974) was reprinted eleven times.  The reason for this “popularity” is beyond me considering I found that a grand total of three of the nine stories were solid while the rest were poorly written cliché-ridden magazine filler…  Dickson had the ability to write some great short SF—for example, Mike at Potpourri of SF Literature adores his collection In the Bone (1987).  But Ancient, My Enemy gives little indication of his talent and generally lacks the insight that his novels such as The Alien Way (1965) possess.

Recommended only for Gordon R. Dickson completists.  I suggest acquiring later more discerning collections of his 50s/60s SF such as « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Art: Visualizing Time, Part II (time travel + sundials + the decay of eternity + time portals)

March 1, 2014 § 12 Comments

11_1953_07_fantasticsty_walterpopp

(Walter Popp’s cover for the 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine, ed. Samuel Mines)

It has been along time since I cobbled together a cover art post…

…but it’s a good one!

This is Part II of my Visualizing Time sequence—if you haven’t seen it already check out Part I.  And in Part II we have a standoff across time with your primitive ancestors, decay and the hourglass, rewriting America’s racist past, the sundial as an arena for an epic showdown with an alien, jumping through cave paintings (a metaphor « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Double, Double, John Brunner (1969)

February 8, 2014 § 14 Comments

(Murray Tinkleman’s cover for the 1979 edition)

2/5 (Bad)

John Brunner has long been one of my favorite SF authors and it almost pains me to review dismal disasters like Double, Double (1969).  I find it mind-boggling that an author who produced the otherworldly Stand on Zanzibar (1968) can turn around and release Double, Double the very next year.  Yes, yes I know, even brilliant SF authors such as Robert Silverberg churned out a vast and bizarre variety of sex/smut books to make ends meet (and buy a mansion) under such names as L.T. Woodward MD (Virgin Wives, Sex in our Schools, etc) and Don Elliot (Cousin Lover, Gang Girl, Gay Girl, The Instructor, etc) so I really should not complain….

Double, Double contains the most rudimentary clichéd premise and a plot used in countless 50s B-movies.  At moments it feels like Brunner wanted to transform the plot into a vehicle for social commentary.  However, at these crucial junctures where Brunner could have used his profusion of strange disparate characters gathered together in the English countryside to comment on the state of English society « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCI (Ballard + MacLean + Aldiss + Watson)

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 »

Book Review: Strange Relations, Philip José Farmer (1960)

January 26, 2014 § 9 Comments

(Blanchard’s cover for the 1960 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

Blanchard’s abstract vaginal cover for the 1960 first edition of Philip José Farmer’s Strange Relations (1960) hints, just obliquely enough to avoid being explicit, at the collection’s radical and groundbreaking contents.  Nothing else existed like this from the 50s!  Having exploded onto the scene with the “transgressive” (SF encyclopedia) novella “The Lovers” (1953) (later expanded to novel length), Strange Relations (1960) collects a further five short works from the mid-50s and later on similar themes — theology, sex, xenobiology, Freud, and social satire.

Each work revolves around a particular Freudian scenario, a Freudian fantasy.  One can imagine that authors such as Barry N. Malzberg « Read the rest of this entry »

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