Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIX (Haldeman + Chalker + Oliver + Anderson)

Some Chicago finds from Powell Books (Hyde Park)…  I own too many SF novels in my to read pile (I have close to 300 waiting to be read so I am going to try to put a stop on rampant — yes, they are cheap — purchases).

Last one of these for a while?  Should I take bets?

Some titles definitely not my normal fare — I’ve read Haldeman’s The Forever War (1975), Forever Peace (1999), and Forever Free (1999) but not a single one of his short stories so Infinite Dreams (1978) is a welcome addition to my collection.

Chad Oliver is one of the “second-tier” greats whom I’ve not read…. And Chalker falls in that category as well.  Poul Anderson’s The Byworlder (1971) is generally not considered one of his best but it did snag a Nebula award nomination.

Thoughts?

1. Infinite Dreams, Joe Haldeman (1978)

(Clyde Caldwell’s cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “INFINITE DREAMS.  An ancient gypsy puts a curse on all mankind.  A cranky Martian Jew takes on the largest corporation in the Galaxy.  A Mason jar of home-made booze changes the course of history.  A mediocre artist is dragged off to serve jury duty — inside a berserk computer.  A two hundred year-old child of the future revives the dead art of reading.  Plain people and strange people and non-people and maniacs, savants and bumblers — even heroes and villains — inhabit Jo Haldeman stories, stories that sweep through thousands of light-years or spin inside the confines of a man’s skull.  Here for the first time are the award-winning short stories, including the Hugo-winning “Tricentennial,” by one of the most imaginative science fiction writers of our time.”

2. The Shores of Another Sea, Chad Oliver (1971) (MY REVIEW)

(Bob Pepper’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “It was time killing time for the big cats!  The sun dipped low in the East African sky as the rust-colored dust formed an ageless patina, covering the landscape of the dead.  As he had many times before, Royce Crawford watched the lions stalk onto the valley floor.  Suddenly, Royce head something unusual — a faint bizarre whistling, otherworldly, out of time and place.  On the horizon, an arc of white appeared and curved downward toward the earth.  The predators scattered.  There was nothing.  The fading sun lost its warmth.  Whatever it was, Royce knew, had come down near the settlement.  As he ran toward his jeep one thought raced through his mind:  AN UNKNOWN EVIL FORCE HELD THE LIVING IN A DEATH GRIP.  Only Royce Crawford could prevent the inevitable holocaust.”

3. A Jungle of Stars, Jack L. Chalker (1976)

(H. R. Van Dongen’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “PAUL CARLTON SAVAGE.  Died for the firs time on July 29, 1969 in Viet Nam… and then his troubles really began.  Before he knew what hit him, Savage was approached by The Hunter and offered a deal… a deal he was in no position to turn down: immortality in exchange for his services in The Hunter’s continuing war against the Bromgrev.  Suddenly Savage found himself pitted again The Bromgrev — an enemy he had never seen… an enemy who could be anyone, anywhere, at any time… an enemy determined to destroy all who opposed him and anything that got in his way.  In this raging intergalactic war between Good and Evil, Savage was in peculiar position.  He couldn’t decide which side to join… and time was running out!”

4. The Byworlder, Poul Anderson (1971)

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “THE SECRET OF THE SIGMAN.  Skip Wayburn, artist, drifter, sigaroon, gulped down his food with with nothing on his mind but a long evening of lovemaking.  Far above him, the first emissary of interstellar space continued to orbit the globe.  For three years it had been there, and still there were nothing but questions.  What had lured the voyager from Sigma Draconis to Earth?  How did the creature plan to use its incredible power?  And most important, why was it waiting… and for what?  THen, in a blinding flash of insight, Skip Wayburn suddenly knew the answers… knew with dead certainty what the Sigman had some, who “he” was, and precisely what the Earthman must do.  But who would listen to the far-out ideas of a mere sigaroon?  Skip didn’t know.  But someone had to listen–and fast.”

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32 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LXXIX (Haldeman + Chalker + Oliver + Anderson)”

  1. I’ve wondered if you ever had time to read all your new acquisitions. I’ve never read Haldeman but that collection of shorts sounds awesome.

    1. Good question. As a PhD student currently dissertating the answer is no… I manage to squeeze in a good 6 – 8 a month and then manage to write 5 – 6 reviews. So I often read more than I review. But then again I’m generally not spending more than a $1.5 or so a book so it isn’t a big deal. And certain books strike me at different times (I can never schedule three or for books to read in a row without deviating) so it’s nice to have three shelves of unread books to pull from.

      1. You should probably snag a copy of The Forever War (the sequels from the 90s aren’t as good) as well — one of the more important SF novels of the 70s, although most readers don’t seem to understand some of the more satirical elements.

      2. Ah, good luck on the dissertation! And at least all those classics are in good hands.

        Yes, The Forever War is on my reading list, but it has not been scheduled yet. (I definitely fit in the scheduler category.)

      3. Thanks.

        I enjoyed it! Despite Haldeman’s more recent claims that Heinlein’s Starship Troopers was only loose inspiration I like reading it as a response to Heinlein’s problematic vision.

  2. Yea, Infinite Dreams is pretty good! Every story was a solid 3-4 stars–one better, no worse. You’re lucky you have Caldwell’s cover… I have the weird Futura edition. That’s not one I’d like to read on my morning commute. As for Chalker, set your expectations low. I’ve been underwhelmed by reading his Midnight at the Well of Souls and A War of Shadows.

  3. I’ve always liked Haldeman’s short stories, and that collection is a good one. I usually read his very urbane blog, which he has been running as a daily log since the early days of the Internet. It’s probably one of the oldest continuing on-line daily blogs.

    You could probably do a whole “theme” cover post not only on SF covers depicting primates, but mandrills in particular. The facial color scheme seems to attract a lot of artists.

  4. Slightly off topic but the cover art is brilliant. I always find airbrush work really enchanting, in regards to books like this I used to lose myself in the pictures before I’d even read the first page.

  5. Joachim, I only hang around this site because I can relate to your OCD of buying so many great titles for so cheap and burying myself alive underneath the weight of it all. I’ve run out of shelf space a long time ago.

    Group therapy, anyone?

    1. That’s the “only” reason? Not the reviews, art posts, pithy comments? 😉 HAHA

      But yes, at the moment it isn’t so bas as I only own around 500-700 SF novels. But I’m still young….

      1. Ahhh.. my recent acquisitions:

        The best of Murray Leinster
        The best of Henry Kuttner
        Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy
        Space Angel by John Maddox Roberts
        The Two of Them by Joanna Russ

        Currently reading Ursula Le Guin – Planet of Exile and, short stories by Fred Saberhagen.

      2. I enjoyed Planet of Exile — rather more restrained than her more well known novels.

        And I love Russ although I’ve not read The Two of Them yet. No fan of Asimov although I understand why people love his work…

  6. I came across your blog recently and have really enjoyed your reviews. I’m not fantastically well read but I have read a lot of SF and am always on the lookout for that lesser known title I might have missed.
    I think you will really like the Oliver; he’s one of my favorites and Shores of Another Sea is his best novel in my opinion, being grounded on his own experience of anthropological research in Africa. I’ll be interested to see your reaction to it.

    1. Thanks for the kind words (visit often, comment often!). I focus predominately on 40s-70s SF with an interest in more esoteric/literary/allegorical/social SF. Although, can’t resist the charm of a nice, straightforward Space Opera every now or then (I do avoid military SF almost as a rule…).

      Yes, Oliver taught at my undergraduate institution (The University of Texas, Austin)–long before I was there 😉 Else as an avid SF fan I would have tried to talk to him!

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