Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Selection of Bleak Alien Landscapes

October 26, 2011 § 13 Comments

(Alex Schomburg’s cover for the 1953 edition of Space, Space, Space (1953), ed. William Sloane)

Our science fiction heroes are often confronted by bleak alien landscapes adorned with rocks, vast deserts, adverse atmospheres — commonly these vistas are traversed, colonized, tamed…  Spaceships touch down on virgin surfaces, the explorers tentatively step forward, aliens peer from the distance.  When settlements are built the alien vista remains an ever present source of fear and fascination.  The depiction of a convincingly bleak alien landscape (think Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s Dune) can be of paramount importance in conveying not only  otherworldliness but the backdrop for human drama and the challenges our heroes must overcome (by technology or other « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The Lifeship, Harry Harrison and Gordon R. Dickson (1976)

October 21, 2011 § 7 Comments

3.5/5 (Good)

Harry Harrison and Gordon R. Dickson’s The Lifeship (1976) is two parts tense and exciting adventure in the expanse of space and one part half-hearted “key differences between individuals are overcome in the end” attempts at social commentary.  I found the first two-thirds of the work riveting.  Sadly, the final third devolves into a ramshackle and unpleasant mixture of save the world formulae and endless exposition at gunpoint about all the nefarious nooks and crannies of each and every plan, counter-plan, potential plan, half-realized plan, and unrealized plan soon to be fomented in the liminal realm of coalescing « Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. V

May 31, 2011 § 14 Comments

I promised not to buy any more books over the summer unless I ran out — alas, Memorial Day Sale at one of the best Half Price Books in the country (Austin) is a “bad” combination.  I had to reduce my gigantic pile by half before I dared approach the buy counter….

I’m proud of this haul!

1. Hawksbill Station (1968), Robert Silverberg (MY REVIEW)

I’ve wanted to procure Hawksbill Station for quite a while — the premise is fantastic, five dangerous prisoners are held at Hawksbill Station located in the Cambrian era… One bizarre use of time travel!  I hope Silverberg is at his best à la The World Inside and Downward to the Earth.

2. Master of Life and Death, Robert « Read the rest of this entry »

Sci-Fi TV Episode Reviews: Space: 1999, episode 1, ‘Breakaway’ (1975)

May 8, 2011 § 11 Comments

Everyone!  I’ve decided to start a new series of posts!  An episode by episode log of my reactions (including, but not limited to rants, ravings, tangential ruminations, mutterings, and indecipherable utterances) to Space: 1999 (1975-1977).  I’ve never seen the show before and don’t have very high expectations.  But with 2001: A Space Odyssey inspired visuals and some 70s flare (see the hilarious costumes of the cast image below), how bad can it be? (haha).  A general naïveté (on my part)  « Read the rest of this entry »

Science Fiction Inspired Song: Nektar’s ‘Astronauts Nightmare’ (1972)

May 4, 2011 § 3 Comments

Nektar, an English band founded in Germany, is another virtually forgotten group restricted mostly to the more esoteric of psychedelic music circles.  Their debut album, Journey to the Center of the Eye (1972), is sci-fi themed throughout (I’ll post more songs over the coming weeks).  ‘Astronauts Nightmare’ is my favorite of the « Read the rest of this entry »

Science Fiction Inspired Song: The Rolling Stones’ ’2000 Light Years From Home’ (1967)

April 19, 2011 § 8 Comments

I’d completely forgotten about The Rolling Stones’ interesting (if somewhat underrated) psychedelic album Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) and its few noteworthy tracks until one popped up on my pandora station.  The sci-fi and LCD inspired ’2000 Light Years From Home’ « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Downward to the Earth, Robert Silverberg (1970)

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

4.75/5 (Very Good)

1971 Nebula Nominated Novel (Silverberg declined the nomination)

The first two-thirds of Robert Silverberg’s masterpiece Downward to the Earth (1970) is easily in the pantheon of the best sections of a science fiction book I’ve ever read.  I found it emotionally engaging and often downright nerve-racking, moody and disturbed, and engages in an intelligent and poignant manner with the issue of de-colonization which was coming to the fore in the 1960s. « Read the rest of this entry »

A Film Rumination: The Monolith Monsters, John Sherwood (1957)

April 6, 2011 § 18 Comments


7/10 (Good)

John Sherwood’s The Monolith Monsters (1957) is by far one of my favorite  B sci-fi (ish) monster movies!  I’m being very generous with rating but, this is a hilariously average (but wonderful) romp with one of the more peculiar “monsters” matched up with some of the best 50s special effects I’ve seen.  The Monolith Monsters is without doubt one of the more interesting films of the 1950s American Realist Science Fiction movement « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Collision Course (variant title: Collision with Chronos), Barrington J. Bayley, (1973)

December 11, 2010 § 11 Comments

3.75/5 (Good)

Barrington J. Bayley’s Collision Course (Collision with Chronos) (1973) is based on a fascinating hard sci-fi premise, the intersection of two time waves, one from the future heading into the past, and the “present”, heading « Read the rest of this entry »

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