June 16, 2013 § 10 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 »
June 5, 2013 § 21 Comments
Gifts! From my fiancé!
Four more wonderful books… I can’t wait to read J. G. Ballard’s The Burning World (1964) and Poul Anderson’s short story collection Time and Stars (1964)… Ballard is a genius and Anderson is a solid writer who always produced fun plot-driven works (I suspect his Hugo nominated There Will Be Time (1973) will be similar). Also, despite my general frustration with Clifford D. Simak’s ouvre, I’m intrigued by Why Call Them Back From Heaven? (1967)….
Enjoy the two Powers covers!
1. The Burning World, J. G. Ballard (1964)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1964 first edition) « Read the rest of this entry »
Book Review: The People Trap (full title: The People Trap and other Pitfalls, Snares, Devices, Delusions, as Well as Two Sniggles and a Contrivance), Robert Sheckley (1968)
May 28, 2013 § 4 Comments
(Photo Media’s cover for the 1968 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
Although Robert Sheckley’s collection The People Trap (1968) does not approach the heights of Store of Infinity (1960), there are plenty of gems and the overall quality should compel any fan of satirical 50s/60s science fiction to find a copy. Sheckley’s stories are characterized by delightful wit (despite serious themes such as the effects of colonization, technology, and nuclear disaster), surprising twist-endings, a penchant for intellectual mind-games (especially his 60s stories), and often hilariously hapless « Read the rest of this entry »
May 16, 2013 § 17 Comments
(Uncredited cover for the 1970 edition of When Two Worlds Meet (1970), Robert Moore Williams)
A while ago I put together a post on the theme of Models, Dolls, and Mannequins in cover art. Little did I know that Curtis Books (a rather minor publisher of generally minor authors) and Born, a Dutch imprint, used a substantial number of cover compositions comprised of manipulated photographs/collages etc of plastic toy spacemen in unusual alien environments. Also, a few more major publishers/magazines — Four Square Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction Science Fact — had their own take on the theme.
I find these covers very charming and fun (sort of like a science fiction B-film from the 50s) — not necessarily artistic masterpieces. They certainly evoke childhood games with toy figurines — perhaps placed in the lawn or sandbox or amongst the grass. I’ve included a few from my previous post and another can be found in my post « Read the rest of this entry »
May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
(Robert Foster’s evocative cover for the 1972 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Average)
James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a fix-up novel containing three previously published but linked novelettes: ‘Witches Must Burn’ (1956), ‘Trial By Fire’ (1969), and ‘Witch Hunt’ (1969). The first two are contiguous while the third section is more loosely related. I will rate each separately as I did with the superior The Immortals (1962).
As someone who has lived in areas of the United States plagued by virulent strains of anti-intellectualism, massive higher education funding cuts (especially for the liberal arts), and an increasing emphasis on “practical” fields of study, James E. Gunn’s The Burning (1972) is a profoundly unsettling read. Of course Gunn’s dystopic future is much more one of doom and gloom: The universities lie in smoldering ruins, the professors (“eggheads”) « Read the rest of this entry »
May 2, 2013 § 27 Comments
A new bookstore in my hometown! Great results! Dirt cheap (between 1-2 $ a book)! Happy me!
I finally have a copy of Hal Clement’s hard science fiction masterpiece, Mission of Gravity (1953)… And a collection of William Tenn’s short stories with a downright gorgeous Powers cover — Tenn is supposedly up there with Sheckley in the satirical pantheon of the 50s… Among others…
Has anyone read Michael Frayn’s A Very Private Live (1968)? I’ve never heard of it before but the Lehr cover was too amazing to pass up…
1. The Human Angle, William Tenn (1956)
(Robert Powers’ cover for the 1956 edition)
From the inside flap: “WIT: an extra-terrestrial sells pornographic literature « Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2013 § 6 Comments
4.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
James E. Gunn’s The Immortals (1962) is less about the lives and mental state of the eponymous humans “blessed” with immortally (a fascinating topic in itself) and more about the ramifications of their existence on the rest of society not “blessed” with such genetic structures. Their presence exacerbates the problems of an already dystopically tinged world where medical care is increasingly the domain of the ultra wealthy. With the knowledge that a random genetic mutation has created a bloodline whose members are immortal, society is all too eager to root them out and (literally) bleed them dry. Living longer — achieved by whatever means — becomes the single-minded desire of all. Most of humanity is oblivious to the festering (and carcinogenic) « Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2013 § 6 Comments
(Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Skyport (1959), Curt Siodmak)
Part II of my series on cover art depicting space stations (Part I). Here are vast assortment of primarily Alex Schomburg and Vincent Di Fate’s artwork — they did love their space stations. But, I think my favorite is by far Arthur Hawkins’ cover for the 1959 edition of Curt Siodmak’s Skyport (1959) — the author is of course famous for the novel Donovan’s Brain (1942). The delightful color scheme, the 50s aesthetic, the vague indication of continents below, the cluster of « Read the rest of this entry »
April 15, 2013 § 13 Comments
I loved James E. Gunn’s The Joy Makers (1961) and found the collection Station in Space (1958) quite solid… Thus, I snatched up a lot of Gunn’s fix-up novels and short story collections from ebay…. It is often difficult to distinguish Gunn’s short story collections from his novels due to the fact that his favorite form tended to be the novella and novelette — after their original magazine publications they were combined into “proper novels” or existing novellas, for example ‘The Listeners’ (1968), were expanded to novel length.
Regardless, I cannot wait to read these. Which ones to do you recommend?
And some intriguing covers….
1. The Burning, James Gunn (1972) (MY REVIEW)
(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1972 edition)
From the inside flap: “Death to the scientists! The cry for blood vengeance went up all over the « Read the rest of this entry »