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

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)

From the inside flap: “Twenty-eight previously uncollected short stories and two essays from the prolific pen of Barry N. Malzberg, author of Guernica NightChorale, Herovit’s World, and the John W. Campbell Memorial award-winning Beyond Apollo, each of the stories with commentary written especially for this collection.  Since his first appearance in science fiction in 1967, Barry N. Malzberg has published twenty-five novels and co-edited eight anthologies; this is his eighth short-story collection.  Gathered from a wide range of markets—not only science fiction magazines and original anthologies but the mystery magazines where his work has occasionally appeared in the last decade—The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady is a collection to demonstrate the range of Barry N. Malzberg’s style and imagination, which among other things embraces: —The musings of a space-age sniper —The afterlife of some very famous writers —The social woes of a carnival proprietor —The entanglements of a suburban marriage where a beagle becomes correspondent in adultery.”

2. A City in the North, Marta Randall (1976)

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 11.15.52 AM

(Vincent Di Fate’s horrid cover for the 1979 edition)

From the back cover: “UNWELCOME ALIEN.  Toyon was a Terran, powerful in his own sector of the galaxy, but here on the planet of Hoep-Hanninah, he was a tourist who did not speak the language.  Toyon was a brilliant man, but to the apelike, expressionless natives of this planet, he was a threat.  Toyon had a dream he was determined to realize: to travel to the ruined city in the north and explore it.  But the Hanninah were as determined to thwart him; for in the path of his expedition to the ruins lay the secret of their survival.”

3. Buy Jupiter and Other Stories, Isaac Asimov (1975)

(Michael Flanagan’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the inside flap: “BUY JUPITER.  An Extraordinary Talk with an Extraordinary man.  Here Isaac Asimov, the renowned writer and storyteller, takes you behind the scenes of his work—and to his life—revealing the rare blend of an original mind and a rich personality that has made him one of the biggest names in science fiction today.  Together with twenty-four little-anthologized stories by the grandmaster is his biographical commentary on each of them.  They form a unique autobiography from the early ’50s right up the the present.  Here’s Isaac Asimov the punster, in “Shah Guido C” (doling out punishment even in the title); Isaac Asimov the romantic, in “Everest” (an impromptu exercise written on a dare from a beautiful editor); Isaac Asimov the dreamer, in “A Statue for Father” (written as a plot to keep his mind of a dreaded-vacation); Isaac Asimov the extraordinary, in twenty-one other marvelously inventive tales of fiction and fantasy.

4. The Sins of the Fathers, Stanley Schmidt (1973)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

From the back cover: “THE NIGHT BEFORE NEVER.  The Archaeopteryx was on an innocent enough mission.  Propelled by the Rao-Chang drive, the revolutionary new ship journeyed back a hundred thirty years into space to observe the supernova effect in the great spiral galaxy M31.  It was purely scientific research.  Until Donald Lewiston, the mission’s astronomer, saw the anamoly [spelled INCORRECTLY on back cover]—and went mad.   When the ship returned to normal space and finally to earth, only Jonel Turabian, the Ship’s Mate, and the giant craft’s computers possessed the key to understanding Lewiston’s sudden insanity.  Turabian had to tell Kennedy command—the Rao-Chang drive had taken the Archaeopteryx into a time-and-space spiral that revealed earth’s destruction in the future.  The very near future.  The only way out of certain death for all of humankind would come from an unearthly source with as devastating a proposition as doom itself.”

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7 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCVII (Asimov + Malzberg + Randall + Schmidt)”

  1. That Powers cover on the Schmidt is great. I have to say I like the Di Fate cover on the Randall; I think those faces are interesting, even pleasant.

    As for Asimov’s autobiographical ramblings, I am coming to the conclusion that Asimov himself is a more interesting character, and his life a more interesting story, than any character or plot in his fiction.

    1. I wish I could find a good image for the Randall novel. Might have to scan in my own copy — argh. haha.

      I have never delved into his autobiographical ramblings, I dunno, if I’ll read any of his work in the near future it’ll be some of his early stuff, The Naked Sun for example.

  2. I feel like Vincent Di Fate’s personal cheerleader: ‘Go, Vinnie, Go!’

    But as much as I appreciate his cover for A City In The North, Richard Power’s is twice as appealing this go round; very bold and creepy.

  3. I think Asimov started out writing introductions to his stories because an early collection came up a little short in word count and he needed to make it enough of a book, and then he kept it up because he thought it was fun and readers seemed to like. Certainly I’ve liked them; there’s usually a little bit about what inspired a story that’s interesting and, if the story is a real dog (as I’m afraid too many in Buy Jupiter are) they can be the better reads.

    I don’t have the table of contents on hand but I think that Buy Jupiter includes “Man’s Greatest Asset”, about the head of the Science Ministry deciding whether to allocate some asteroids to a guy with a radical ecological engineering program, that’s I think underrated and that gets at a neat bit of the psychology of producing greatness.

    1. Perhaps Ellison was inspired to take up most of his collections with intros after reading Asimov’s — tehehe.

      But yes, I’ll give it a shot. I enjoy some of his 50s stuff.

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