Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLX (Delany + Disch + Sladek + Zelazny + Edmondson + Bryant + Sucharitkul)

It’s been too long since I’ve read anything by Delany.  I polished off Triton (1976), Nova (1968), The Einstein Intersection (1967), and Babel-17 (1966) long before I started my site.  For a SF reading group I reread Nova a few years back but never wrote a review.  One of the few SF novels I’ve reread.  And yes, I do not own a copy nor have I tackled the behemoth that is Dhalgren (1975).

As a teen I was obsessed with Delany’s first collection Driftglass (1971), although I probably did not understand the important of the stories.  It is hard to forget the images in “Aye, and Gomorrah…” (1967) or “We, in Some Strange Power’s Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line” (1968) even if the message was lost on my younger self.  Now I have an excuse to reread one of Delany’s best known stories, originally collected in Driftglass (1971) — “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968) — in a fascinating anthology with other luminaries of the field, Disch, Sladek, and Zelazny.

I confess, I was seduced by Powers’ gorgeous cover for G. C. Edmondson’s novel despite the terrifying back cover blurb: “Good, Old-fashioned Science Fiction Adventure at its best!”

A few months ago I read and reviewed Somtow Sucharitkul’s Starship and Haiku (1981).  Although I did not care for the novel, I need more strikes against before I give up on an author completely.  And, why not a fix-up comprised of his best known stories?

Same thing with Edward Bryant…  His attempts at channeling extreme decadence, fascinating cityscapes, and odd hybrids come off as inarticulate and forced.  Albeit I have only read “Jade Blue” (1971) and “The Human Side of the Village Monster” (1971).  As with Somtow Sucharitkul, I need to read more of his stories to come to a firm stance on his abilities.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

  1. The Shores Beneath, ed. James Sallis (1971)

the-shores-beneath_page_2

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “TRIPS TO THE WILDERNESS WITHIN.

Here are four trips to four uncharted lands, led by the most brilliant new names in science fiction.

TIME CONSIDERED AS A HELIX OF SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES is the Hugo-winning revelation of the other side of déjà-vu….

THE GRAVEYARD HEART leads a man into immortality, for better and for worse….

MASTERSON AND THE CLERKS considers a man’s absorption into a comfortable, orderly society which doesn’t like him much when it’s got him….

THE ASIAN SHORE is a man’s harrowing journey through a decadent world of counterfeit selves–where his own identity undergoes an insidious change.”

2. The Aluminum Man, G. C. Edmondson (1975)

almmn1975

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “Good, Old-fashioned Science Fiction Adventure at its best!  An alien stranded in the north woods gives Rudolf and Flaherty a strain of bacteria which produces aluminum, allowing them to challenge the business establishment by becoming the world’s leading aluminum producers (in their back yard).

A more improbably duo of heroes has never challenged your imagination.  Rudolf is an Icy-League Indian, a respected scholar, disaffected by the American society that has seduced him.  Flaherty is a scientist, an Irishman, and an extremely disorderly alcoholic.

Action builds upon action until Rudolf destroys civilization–and a good thing, too!”

3. Mallworld, Somtow Sucharitkul (S. P. Somtow) (1981)

mllwrlde51981

(Karl Kofoed’s cover for the 1981 edition)

From the back cover of the 1984 edition: “So what if the rest of the galaxy doesn’t want us?  So what if the Selespridar have locked us up in a force field and towed our solar system to an uninhabited parallel universe?  So what if we’re always trying to get out?  We’ve still got

MALLWORLD

The shopping center the size of a planet!

–Spend a week at the Gaza Plaza, carved out of the great pyramid of Khufu.

–Dine on the delicacies of a thousand worlds at the Galaxy Restaurant, from Denebian Whiteworms to softshell Malaprops.

–Enjoy the psionically amplified performances of the greatest clavichrome player of all time, Julian Barjulian CIII, the wealthiest man in the solar system.

–Play human pinball at the arcades.

–Order a custom-designed baby at Storkways, Inc.–But don’t miss a payment or the bogeyman will get you!

–Experience the ultimate at the way out suicide parlors: death by vampire is just one of 300 ways to go.

Hang on to your megacreditcard!

You’re about to embark on the wildest shipping spree in the universe!”

4. Among the Dead and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse, Edward Bryant (1973)

mngthddndt1973

(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1973 edition)

My Collier Books edition (1974) has the same cover at but no back cover blurb. Instead, here’s an image of what various critics and Bryant himself had to say:

back-byrant-events

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15 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLX (Delany + Disch + Sladek + Zelazny + Edmondson + Bryant + Sucharitkul)”

  1. I read “Nova”,as well as “The Ballard of Beta-2”,last year.Neither of them,I’m sorry to say,did I find of much substance,which was especially dissapointing regarding “Nova”,that I had high expectations of.I really couldn’t get into it.I much preferred”The Jewels of Aptor”,”Babel-17″ and “The Einstein Intersection”,although I read them some years ago.I didn’t like his “Driftglass” collection,and although I read “Dhalgren”,I think it’s for hardcore fans of his work.

    1. “Nova” and “Driftglass” are both brilliant. I waffle between “The Einstein Intersection” and “Nova” as my favorite novels of his I’ve read….

      I can only imagine the odd shock readers experienced when they read The Ballad of Beta-2 expecting a normal (mostly) scholocky Ace Double! I need to read it for sure….

  2. It hurts a bit to say that I didn’t like “Nova”.I’d like to try it again one day.I didn’t think his short stuff had the strength of his novels.I think “The Einsten Intersection” was the one I liked the most of his.It was remarkable I think,for it’s consideration of the crossroads where science and myth meet,that gives the novel it’s name.

    “The Ballard of Beta-2” was more compact than “Nova”,but although I only read it last year,I already fnd it forgettable.

  3. Hi

    An interesting mix, I believe I picked up the same Bryant collection not long ago, I will have to shelve some books to be sure, I have always heard his name mentioned as a good writer so I am looking forward to it. My wife swears by Sucharitkul but I have not tried him yet. I like the Sallis cover and Time is a Delaney story I just recently reread, I still like it. I thought Driftglass was a great collection. “We, in Some Strange Power’s Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line” is one of the all time great titles, I think I should reread the whole collection with fresh, okay older eyes. I quite liked Nova did not finish Dhalgren and found Triton a bit of a bore. The blurb for the Edmondson does make it sound like old school SF at it’s worse hopefully the author can breath some life into it.

    Happy Reading
    Guy

    1. Which Sucharitkul does she swear by? As you know, I tried Starship & Haiku and found it not good but not bad. A middling effort with some interesting ideas…

      I found Triton, interesting (I read it so long ago, my memories of it are fading)…. But yes, felt more like a SF essay about ideas. Which, can be brilliant — i.e. Lem’s His Master’s Voice.

      I’d love to hear (or read a review) your thoughts on Bryant!

  4. I nearly re-read the Edmondson recently, but picked his short DAW novel Blue Face to read instead.
    Blue Face - G. C. Edmondson
    Anyway, I quite like Edmondson and have read most of his stuff.Still have these two plus his Ace Double of The Ship That Sailed the Time Stream and Stranger than You Think (his short stories). The novel’s a fun romp through time, and the short stories are mainly well worth a read.
    As with Blue Face, in this one you’ve to work a little to understand exactly what’s going on, which makes it seem a bit laborious at times but I enjoyed it the times I read it.

    In the anthology with a John Sladek story, Masterton and the Clerks is the one with a seating diagram, isn’t it? Interesting, like a condensed Report on Probability Three (Aldiss).
    It’s too long since I read most of Delany’s books to comment much on them but I’m always slightly surprised that hisTales of Nevèrÿon fantasy series hardly ever gets mentioned. I found the first couple, especially, worth a read back when they came out..

    1. Looks like a Karel Thole cover for Blue Face. Would you characterize Edmondson’s work as “old-fashioned SF”? Or, does he really try to update that idea — like Alexei Panshin’s take (and reconception) on Heinlein in Rite of Passage (1968).

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. I’d say most of his work is fairly run-of-the-mill with only these two novels attempting to be much else, although ‘Ship that Sailed…’ is good straight forward time travel adventure.
    In some ways his narrative style in both Blue Face & Aluminum Man remind me a little of Doris Piserchia (having re-read one of her books recently for the first time in decades). I think part of it must be cultural/linguistic – he was Guatamalan and set some of his stories in villages, etc.where Spanish would have been the main language spoken.

    1. If I need a break from Malzberg induced paranoia at some point perhaps I’ll give one of his novels a try! But then again, I have so many SF novels cut from a similar (relatively unoriginal) cloth.

  6. Hi

    I checked with my wife her favourite Sucharitkul novels were on those dealing with the utopia hunters (SF Encyclopedia )
    The Inquestor sequence – Light on the Sound (1982; rev vt The Dawning Shadow #1: Light on the Sound 1986), The Throne of Madness (1983; rev vt The Dawning Shadow #2: The Throne of Madness 1986), Utopia Hunters (coll of linked stories 1984) and The Darkling Wind (1985). She likes novels in series rather than short stories.

    Guy

    1. I’d second that choice of the Inquestor quartet. It’s on my re-read list for when I want to tackle a whole series at a time!

      1. Walk to the End of the World (1974) (and its sequels) should be on your series list 😉 But, I don’t feel like you have to read the entire thing at once. The first novel sits alone quite well. I have the sequel on the shelf. Again, only if you haven’t read it or are in the mood for feminist SF.

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