All posts by Joachim Boaz

In a doomed city under the sea....

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

(František Muzika, Z Českého ráje V (Ležící torzo), 1944)

František Muzika (1900-1976), a key member of the Czech New Wave scene, created haunting paintings that blended human form with the surrounding landscapes. His painting that heads this post inspired me to collect various science fiction covers (from a mix of English and non-English language presses) that showcase the interlacing of human and landscape — the body (or body parts) as landscape. There are many many many more covers on this theme and perhaps I’ll gather them for a later post. I am torn over my favorite! Leigh Taylor’s cover for the 1967 edition of J.G. Ballard’s The Disaster Area (1967) Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

Book Review: The Birth Machine, Elizabeth Baines (1983)

(Hannah Firmin’s cover for the 1983 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

“Ladies and Gentleman: The age of the machine” (11).

I continue my loose sequence of reviews on medical science fiction with Elizabeth Baines’ evocative fable The Birth Machine (1983) (see notes). Pushing against notions that pregnancy is “medical: illness” (51), the narrative follows a nightmarish tact as an unsuspecting woman is linked up to a nebulously described machine and drugged. Beset by dehumanizing (and often patriarchal) forces, Zelda, without the help of others, comes to terms Continue reading Book Review: The Birth Machine, Elizabeth Baines (1983)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three early David Pelham covers in honor of his birthday

(Cover for the 1971 edition of Fifth Planet (1963), Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle)

On twitter I occasionally post the birthdays of important figures in SF history (artists, authors, and editors). Every morning I scan The Internet Speculative Fiction Database’s birthday list on their main page and lo and behold a name immediately popped out for May 12th–the iconic 70s SF artist David Pelham (1938-present).  Enough has been written about his distinctive and surreal covers for Penguin that I won’t go into detail here. Instead I’ve included a few links if you wish to learn more below.

I invite my readers to link in the comments their favorite articles and tidbits about David Pelham and I’ll include any links I receive in my list as well.

I’ve chosen to include in this post his first three SF covers, which happen to be stylistically and thematically similar. Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three early David Pelham covers in honor of his birthday

Fragment(s): Angela Carter on Science Fiction

 

I still have not reviewed one of my favorite novels (tied with Christopher Priest’s 1981 masterpiece The Affirmation) that I read in 2016: Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (1972). I have an excuse—I successfully defended my PhD earlier this month and am currently revising the 300+ page dissertation for final submission later this summer! And, I must confess, the fear that I won’t be able to do The Infernal Desire Machines justice envelopes me….

On May 7th Angela Carter Online [an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about her life and works] posted a previously unpublished 1979 interview with Carter conducted by David Pringle for a New Worlds volume that never came together: “The conversation focuses mostly on the topic of science fiction, and includes discussions of the seminal Continue reading Fragment(s): Angela Carter on Science Fiction

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

1) Can’t resist a beautiful Richard Powers cover even on a rather standard 60s anthology of short stories—includes Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, Wyman Guin, Algis Budrys, etc.

Relevant reviews: Algis Budrys’ collection Budrys’ Inferno (1963) and Wyman Guin’s superb collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967).

2) A SF novel by Angela Carter — enough said…

3) One of the great (and lesser read) Soviet dystopias! Can’t wait!

4) Another bargain bin find by John Boyd… with some incredibly hyperbolic cover blurbs on the back about his earlier (and lackluster) novel The Last Starship from Earth (1968).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Beyond, ed. Thomas A. Dardis (1963)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

Fragment(s): Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)

(From Piers Anthony’s Macroscope (1969), 224)

First we must honor the book sacrificed in the making of this post: the spine of my Picador 1977 edition of Martin Bax’s The Hospital Ship (1976) needs some drastic surgery (glue) after I attempted to scan its dark interior….

As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity. The most obvious category, and the one I am least interested in, is scientifically accurate Continue reading Fragment(s): Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Pierre Faucheux’s 1970s covers for La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction (robots, the end of the world, aliens, etc)

(Cover for the 1974 edition of Histoires de robot)

While researching the French SF author Gérard Klein, I discovered that he edited a themed anthology series La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction with Jacques Goimard and Demètre Ioakimidis. This series covered SF stories on themes such as robots, aliens, machines, the galactic, the end of the world, time travel, etc. If you’re curious about the contents of any of the volumes in my post check out the handy Internet Speculative Fiction Database listing.

The famous French typographer, graphic artist, urbanist, and architect Pierre Faucheux—who worked primarily for the publishers Club Français du Livre and Le Livre de Poche—created the covers for Klein, Goimard, and Ioakimidis’ SF anthology series. And they are a varied and fascinating bunch…

I am not convinced I like all of them — but the 1974 edition of Histoires de machines, the 1974 edition of Histoires de fins du monde, and the 1975 edition of Histoires de voyages dans le temps certainly appeal to my artistic Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Pierre Faucheux’s 1970s covers for La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction (robots, the end of the world, aliens, etc)