Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)

March 29, 2014 § 15 Comments

A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).

Enjoy!

1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)

FTRWRLDSCL1968

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation.  This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia.  All life should have perished millions of years ago.  But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death.  Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” « 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 »

Updates: Immortality Themed SF Novels/Short Stories Resource Posted

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 »

Book Review: To Open the Sky, Robert Silverberg (1967)

January 21, 2014 § 16 Comments

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

“And there is light, before and beyond our vision, for which we give thanks.  And there is heat, for which we are humble.  And there is power, for which we count ourselves blessed.  Blessed be Balmer, who gave us wavelengths.  Blessed be Bohr, who brought us understanding.  Blessed be Lyman, who saw beyond sight.  Tell us now the stations of the spectrum [...]” (3).

Robert Silverberg’s To Open the Sky (1967) is an enjoyable pulp future history with a somewhat “different” premise–religion will be the main force that facilitates mankind’s exploration of the stars.  In his intro of 1978 edition he discusses how the project came about.  In the early 60s Frederik Pohl became his editor and allowed him to published, for the first time, SF “for love rather than money” (II).  Up to this point Silverberg had never attempted, other than in the briefest sketch form,  to extrapolate an entire future history à la Olaf Stapleton or Isaac Asimov.  Silverberg’s vision is nowhere as complex « 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….

3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter…  Everyday surrealism. « Read the rest of this entry »

Updates (New Resource): List of Immortality Themed SF (a call to contribute!)

November 27, 2013 § 10 Comments

This post is a call for readers to submit their favorite immortality themed science fiction NOT included on my list below (and even examples they did not care for so I can make this a more substantial resource).  I’ll make a page with all the information I receive for easy consultation soon (INDEX of similar pages/articles).

A while back I started gathering a list of titles — via SF Encyclopedia, other online resources, and my own shelves — on immortality themed SF.  I have always been intrigued by the social space (one plagued by violence and despair or buoyed by the hope of a better future) that the possibility of immortality might generate.

I would argue that the single best example of social effects that the possibility of immortality might create is Clifford D. Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967).  In similar fashion, James Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) takes place in a world where immortals do exist, they skirt « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Godling, Go Home!, Robert Silverberg (1964)

August 14, 2013 § 28 Comments

(Uncredited cover for the 1964 edition)

3.25/5 (Average)

Before Robert Silverberg wrote his late 60s and early 70s New Wave masterpieces (A Time of Changes, Dying Inside, The World Inside, etc), he produced a vast quantity of pulp science fiction novels and short stories.  Godling, Go Home! (1964) is a surprisingly solid collection of 50s shorts that can, at times, be surprisingly meditative (on death, exploration, civilization).  That said, expect rather naive messages — à la “we travel in space because we can!” or “Alien contact requires out-of-the-box thinking” — grafted onto a by the numbers pulp plot.

A fun collection — recommended for fans of slightly more intelligent than normal pulp SF, Silverberg completes, and 50s SF.  “Godling, Go Home!” (1957), “Why?” (1957), and « Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: On the Cross and Other Prophetic Imagery

April 8, 2013 § 19 Comments

Screen shot 2012-11-21 at 1.36.13 PM(Michael Whelan’s cover for the 1977 edition of The Gameplayers of Zan (1977), M. A. Foster)

On the cross, a future prophet (or false one)?  A martyr for a lost cause?  Or, some future priestly emissary of the Catholic church dispensing law on those gathered…. Perhaps some transformation of man to a godly state all hallowed and arrayed with religious accouterments of faith?  I’ve gathered a fun collection of science fiction prophets mostly decked out / depicted in distinctly Christian style.  

My favorite is Robert Foster’s cover for the 1970 edition of Behold the Man (1969) by Michael Moorcock…. And Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1970 edition of This Immortal (variant title: And Call Me Conrad) (1965) contains a fascinating color scheme — although there isn’t any mold on the figure’s face as Zelazny « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Second Trip, Robert Silverberg (serialized: 1971)

March 3, 2013 § 8 Comments

(Uncredited cover for the 1973 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Robert Silverberg’s late 60s and early 70s science fiction novels were often well-wrought ruminations on acute social alienation.   For example, In Dying Inside (1972) a man slowly loses his telepathic abilities and thus, a core component of his identity.  In  The Man in the Maze (1969), a man rendered incapable of interacting with other humans, goes into self-imposed exile.  In Thorns (1967), two manipulated/modified souls (a man surgically altered by aliens and a young girl who’s the virgin mother of hundreds of children), find strange solace in each other’s company.  In The World Inside (1971), our heroes feel disconnected from the unusual world they’ve grown up in — and rebel in their own ways.

The Second Trip (1971) subverts this theme.  Instead, our hero desperately attempts to re-integrate himself into society (as his persona has been designed to do), to come to grips with his laboratory « Read the rest of this entry »

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