Guest Post: “Death and Designation Among the Asadi,” Michael Bishop (1973)

April 22, 2014 § 5 Comments

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The first installment in my Guest Post Series on The Science Fiction of Michael Bishop was written by Jesse over at the remarkable SF review site Speculiction… Not only is he incredibly prolific (and has a large back catalog of reviews to browse) but his reviews are also a joy to read.  If you are interested in both classic and contemporary SF, and the occasional post on Chinese poetry, make sure to check out his site.

Jesse has previously posted on his site about Bishop’s  “The Samurai in the Willows” (1976) and “Cri de Coeur” (1994).  Both reviews are worth reading.  

“Death and Designation Among the Asadi” (1973) is one of Michael Bishop’s more well known novellas that was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula in 1974.  It was first published in the magazine Worlds of If January-February 1973, ed. Ejler Jakobsson.  If you are interested in finding a copy the story can be found in multiple later collections and forms the first part of his novel Transfigurations (1979) [listing here].

Enjoy!

~

“Death and Designation Among the Asadi,” Michael Bishop (1973)

The alien is perhaps the most recognized, if not the most used trope of « Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Guest Post Series Announcement, The Science Fiction of Michael Bishop

April 21, 2014 § 12 Comments

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Collage of Bishop’s SF covers created by my father

“[Michael Bishop's] early stories and novels display considerable intellectual complexity, and do not shirk the downbeat implications of their anthropological treatment of aliens and alienating milieux” — John Clute, SF Encyclopedia

In an effort to contribute to a greater interest in and readership of Michael Bishop’s science fiction I have approached a variety of fellow reviewers and frequent commentators (a few who have not read his work in the past), to submit reviews/observations/comments for my first ever Guest Post series!  Although I have only read his 70s SF, I gave no such instructions to my guest posters!

Starting this week I will post the first in hopefully a month long project.  I will contribute reviews as well for Transfigurations (1979) and any short stories in the collection Blooded on Arachne (1982) not covered by the posters.

I invite you all to comment, visit the sites of the my guests, and pick up Bishop’s work!

~

Michael Bishop (b. 1945) [official website] is no stranger to critical success for both his novels and short SF: he has won the Nebula Award twice (“The Quickening” and No Enemy But Time) and picked up nine Hugo nominations and an additional thirteen Nebula Nominations.  Two of his more famous novels, the above mentioned No Enemy But Time (1982) and Transfigurations (1979), were selected for inclusion and republication in the Gollancz Masterwork List. Although Bishop has not published a novel since the Hugo-nominated Brittle Innings in 1994, he received a Nebula nomination for his novelette “Vinegar Peace, or, The Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage” (2008) as recently as 2010!  

With this in mind it is surprising that his extraordinary talent is not better known within the SF community.  John Clute in his article for SF Encyclopedia argues that “the earnest ardour and rigorousness of Bishop’s fiction has made him eminently publishable, but difficult to market to an audience expecting easier heroes to identify with.”  

I too have ignored him for far too long.  I could indeed claim my « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Crystal Ship (three novellas by Vonda N. McIntyre + Marta Randall + Joan D. Vinge), ed. Robert Silverberg (1976)

April 6, 2014 § 8 Comments

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(Norman Adams’ cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

According to a list compiled by Ian Sales [here] only a handful of SF anthologies have hit print solely featuring women authors—none were published before 1972 and, surprisingly, few after 1980 (there seems to be a resurgence in the last few years).  The Crystal Ship (1976) ed. Robert Silverberg, is one of these.  It contains the three novellas by three important SF authors who got their start in the 70s: Marta Randall, Joan D. Vinge, Vondra McIntyre.  The latter two achieved critical success: Joan D. Vinge won the Hugo for her novel The Snow Queen (1980) and Vonda N. McIntyre won the Hugo for her novel Dreamsnake (1978).  Marta Randall, on the other hand, despite her Nebula nomination for the intriguing Islands (1976) remains to this day lesser known.

All three of the novellas feature impressive female protagonists and narratives that subvert many of SF’s traditional « 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.

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(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 »

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

March 29, 2014 § 16 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)

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(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 Cover Art: Existential Crisis

March 23, 2014 § 15 Comments

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(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 »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVII (Asimov + Malzberg + Randall + Schmidt)

March 19, 2014 § 7 Comments

Some goodies (finally reaching the bottom of my large pile of unreported SF—holiday leftovers, one or two Half Price/Thrift store visits, birthday gifts).

My second collection (need more!) of Malzberg short stories eagerly wants to be read!

An Asimov collection, Buy Jupiter and Other Short Stories (1975), that was inexpensive and also low on my list of books to read.  As readers know, one of my first SF novels I ever read was The Currents of Space (1952)… That said, Asimov has nostalgic allure but none of the many subsequent novels of his I have read have proved, in my opinion, his supposed “genius talent” and cult of “hero worship.”

Both the Malzberg and Asimov collections have brief intro essays to each story and random autobiographical fragments—smacks of filler.  But, perhaps there will be some intriguing observations (although, I rather not know that Malzberg wrote a particular short story in only an hour, or that Asimov took a bet from a pretty female editor, blah, blah, blah).

Marta Randall’s Islands (1976) was a solid read so it was only a matter of time before I acquired her superior (according to Ian Sales) A City in the North (1976).  You have to feel for her, her books received some of the most horrid Vincent Di Fate covers possible….

 I suspect that The Sins of the Fathers (1973) by Stanley Schmidt is a forgettable 70s space opera but I am willing to give it a try.

Thoughts?

1.  The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady, Barry N. Malzberg (1980)

(Michael Flanagan’s cover for the 1980 edition) « 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 »

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVI (Varley + Wilhelm + Blish + Effinger)

March 13, 2014 § 21 Comments

With the sole novel of his I’ve read, What Entropy Means to Me (1972), George Alec Effinger has entered the pantheon of my favorite authors—the novel is that brilliant.  So, with a birthday gift card from my sister I procured a copy of Irrational Numbers (1975), a collection of short fiction.  Will read soon….

I know very little about John Varley’s work.  I have a copy of his collection The Persistence of Vision (1978)  but had no idea that his first novel, The Ophiuchi Hotline (1977) was as well known as the Goodreads ratings make it out to be (1,476 votes!).  I am positive that Boris Vallejo’s horrid cover prevented me from even considering the novel in the past.

More Wilhelm! (Juniper Time)

More Blish! (Midsummer Century)

All first edition hardbacks for a mere $1-2 each.

Thoughts?

1. The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley (1977)

(Boris Vallejo’s cover for the 1977 edition) « Read the rest of this entry »

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