(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1970 edition)
4/5 (collated rating: Good)
A solid collection of seventeen short stories and one novelette by one of my favorite New Wave authors, Norman Spinrad. Although the collection seldom reaches the heights of his inventive and original alt-history novel The Iron Dream (1972), The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde (1970) is still a wonderful showcase of his earliest short fiction. However, Spinrad’s relentlessly bleak outlook on Earth’s future will not appeal to all SF readers. I only recommend the collection for fans of experimental late 60s SF, the New Wave movement, and bleak satires of societal ills (count me in!).
The best include: “Technicality” (1966), a war against pacifist aliens who wield horrific but non-lethal weapons; “The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde” (1969), an absurdist pastiche of the bastardization of ideology and societal decadence; and “Dead Continue reading
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1973 edition)
4.5/5 (Very Good)
Naomi Mitchison’s first science fiction novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman (1962), is a brilliant episodic rumination on the nature of non-violent interaction with alien species that challenge (and transform) conceptions of ourselves and others. Although R. S. Lonati’s cover for the 1964 Four Square edition suggests a pulp adventure—replete with flashy spaceships, explosions, and traditional adventure—Memoirs is cut from an altogether different cloth.
The first sentence of the novel narrows in on Mitchison’s central themes:
“I think about my friends and the fathers of my children. I think about my children, and I think less about my four dear normals than I think about Viola. And I think about Ariel. And the other. I wonder sometimes how old would be if I counted the years of time blackout during exploration (5).”
In my youth I read Ursula Le Guin like a madman—somewhere in the intervening years I misplaced my copies of her short story collections. So, while voyaging to a nearby city (with Half Price Books) I decided to snag one—The Compass Rose (1982) contains mostly 70s short stories. Excited.
I have been presently impressed with *some* of Philip José Farmer’s work—namely, Strange Relations (1960)—-so I could not resist a “best of” collection.
I am perhaps most excited about David Gerrold’s edited collection Generation: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction (1972). Contains a wide range (and almost equal ratio of male/female authors) of fascinating stories.
I bought C. M. MacApp’s Secret of the Sunless World (1969) due to the title and the amazing Berkey cover. Now that I sat down and transcribed the back cover I rather dissuaded from picking it up anytime soon…
1. The Book of Philip José Farmer, Philip José Farmer (revised 1982, 1973)
(James Warhola’s cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading
A varied lot for sure…
One of the more intriguing is an anthology of nuclear themed SF containing stories by Sturgeon, Merril, Ward Moore, Ellison, Wilhelm, Spinrad, etc.
A Michael Moorcock novel An Alien Heat (1972)—I’ve had little luck with his SF in the past so hopefully this bucks the trend.
A fun 50s vision by Frederic Brown…
And an unknown quantity in Rosel George Brown’s Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue (1968). I’ve wanted to read her short stories for quite a long time but wasn’t going to pass up her most well known work.
1. Countdown to Midnight: Twelve Great Stories About Nuclear War, ed. H. Bruce Franklin (1984)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1984 edition) Continue reading
(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1977 edition)
3.25/5 (Collated rating: Vaguely Good)
I have long been a fan of Frank Herbert. In my youth I scarfed down Dune (1965) and all its sequels and cried (metaphorically) when his son Brian Herbert made a mockery of his vision. I even read the more dubious novels in Herbert’s canon: from The Green Brain (1966) to the co-written (with Bill-Ransom) novels of the Pandora sequence i.e. The Jesus Incident (1979), The Lazarus Effect (1983), and The Ascension Factor (1988). I have found many of his non-Dune novels worth reading (Destination: Void (1966) and The Dosadi Experiment (1977), etc).
More recently I have started to read/review the handful of his novels I missed as a child—so far the solid and unexpectedly complex The Eyes of Heisenberg (1966) and the lesser Continue reading
(Richard Weaver’s cover for the 1972 edition of Dreadful Sanctuary (1948), Eric Frank Russell)
THE SKULL. The bones of the dead, the empty sockets gazing at us, a deathly gaze…. I have collected for your [horror filled] enjoyment a vast variety of SF skulls: the moon mutated into a skull, the half-skinned skull as part of mysterious contraptions, photographs of real human skulls interspersed with statuary and wigs, bizarre pink skulls pulsating with green radiation-esque Continue reading
A grab bag of risk (Cecelia Holland + Guy Snyder) and great reward (Barry N. Malzberg)! I would love to know what you think. I know Holland’s Floating Worlds (1976) was picked up by the SF Masterwork series put out by Gollancz but I know next to nothing about the novel.
And, well, Malzberg is my favorite SF author (metafiction + experimentation + Freud + recursive elements) so I know what I’m getting with his stuff!
1. Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)
(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading