Category Archives: Science Fiction Book Reviews

Guest Post: From Pulp to New Wave: “Space Episode” (1941), Leslie Perri, “Recruiting Officer” (1955), Alice Eleanor Jones, “When I Was Miss Dow” (1966), Sonya Dorman

Ian Sales (twitter) over at It Doesn’t Have to Be Right…—BFSA-winning SF author for Adrift on the Sea of Rains (2012), reviewer, and curator of the indispensable review-collating site SF Mistressworks—provides the seventh guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts).

Head over to his blog posthaste.  Although most of his more recent SF reviews are published in Interzone, his website offers older reviews and many useful resources: a list of the 100 Best SF short stories by women authors; SF Mistressworks Best Novels List; and SF women-only anthologies.

As is his wont, Ian selected two lesser-known pulp SF works by women authors—Leslie Perri and Alice Eleanor Jones—who did not have lengthy SF writing careers. His third selected story is by the masterful Sonya Dorman from one of my favorite periods of SF—the New Wave.

Thank you for contributing!

Enjoy!

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(“Space Episode” first appeared in Future Combined with Science Fiction, December 1941, cover: Hannes Bok)

Review of “Space Episode” (1941) by Leslie Perri, “Recruiting Officer” (1955) by Alice Eleanor Jones, “When I Was Miss Dow” (1966) by Sonya Dorman

By Ian Sales

“Space Episode”, Leslie Perri (1941)

Leslie Perri was the pen-name of Doris Marie Claire Baumgardt, a member of the Futurians, who was married, at different times, to two sf writers, Frederik Pohl and Continue reading Guest Post: From Pulp to New Wave: “Space Episode” (1941), Leslie Perri, “Recruiting Officer” (1955), Alice Eleanor Jones, “When I Was Miss Dow” (1966), Sonya Dorman

Book Review: On Wheels, John Jakes (1973)

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(Don Ivan Punchatz’s cover for the 1973 edition)

3/5 (Average)

“’Life, liberty, and the pursuit of mileage.’ Folk Saying” (11)

John Jakes’ satirical On Wheels (1973) subverts the popular trope of the freedom of the road. The clans (convoys of linked cars, mobile stores, residential cars, bars, and mechanics) who journey across the massive highways that crisscross the USA never dropping below 40 mph are no more free than the denizens of the crowded mega cities. At first glance the clans exude an aura of rebellion made manifest in their claims of voluntarily social estrangement from the rest of society, hyper-masculine car races and duels over women, and self-justifying theology connecting their existence to some grand American narrative of the Continue reading Book Review: On Wheels, John Jakes (1973)

Book Review: An Alien Heat, Michael Moorcock (1972)

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(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1974 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

Decay and the end of the world. There are so many ways to write about decadence and decay. M. John Harrison spins haunting tales of crumbling bodies paralleling crumbling landscapes—The Pastel City (1971) and The Committed Men (1971). Mark S. Geston in Lords of the Starship (1967) postulates some retreat into the “medieval” where the masses can be harnessed and manipulated. Michael Moorcock’s An Alien Heat (1972)—the first in The Dancers at the End of Time sequence—unfolds with comedy and wit in a far future where an “inherited millennia of scientific and technological knowledge” allows the remaining inhabitants to “play immense Continue reading Book Review: An Alien Heat, Michael Moorcock (1972)

Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Megan (twitter) over at From Couch to Moon—who, with boundless wit and intelligence, enjoys exploring the turbulent seas of lesser known SF both vintage and contemporary—provides the sixth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). Head over to her blog—do not miss her review of Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) written in his style and more recent rundowns of various award slates, the 2015 Kitschies for example.

Here are three reviews of 1950s short fiction by Judith Merril, Margaret St. Clair, and Kit Reed.

As always, the required exhortation, find copies!

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(“Survival Ship” appeared in the May 1955 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction, ed. John Carnell, cover: Gerard Quinn)

Reviews of “Survival Ship” (1951) by Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954) by Margaret St. Clair, and “The Wait” (1958) by Kit Reed

By Megan

Not being much of a short fiction reader, these were all new-to-me stories that I thought I might appreciate. A selection of fifties SF, all of which are dark and strange and rebellious, and examine the social and political pressures that are often Continue reading Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Guest Post: Cyborgs and Intergalactic Freight Transport: “No Woman Born” (1944), C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959), Anne McCaffrey

The scholarly and widely published Kate Macdonald (twitter), a Professor of English Literature and currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Reading, provides the fifth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). I recommend browsing her eponymous blog—she recently interviewed the SF author Elizabeth Moon on her collaborations with Anne MacCaffrey and reviews literature and SF (including Iraq + 100. Stories from a Century After the Invasion (2013), ed. Hassan Blasim and the famous post-apocalyptical novel The Long Tomorrow (1955) by Leigh Brackett).

Her post focuses on two of the best known SF women authors from the pre-1969 era: C.L. Moore and Anne McCaffrey.

Cyborgs! Intergalactic Freight Spaceships!

Find copies!

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(“No Woman Born” first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944, cover: William Timmins)

Review of “No Woman Born” (1944) by C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959) by Anne McCaffrey

By Kate Macdonald

I teach sf to university students, and knew from the critical literature about gender in sf that sometime in the 1940s a writer called C. L. Moore published a landmark story about the first female cyborg. I tracked down a copy of ‘No Continue reading Guest Post: Cyborgs and Intergalactic Freight Transport: “No Woman Born” (1944), C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959), Anne McCaffrey

Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories Pre-1969 by Women Authors: “Vintage Season” (1946), C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952), Katherine Maclean, “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910), Edna Underwood

The erudite and prolific Jesse provides the fourth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). I recommend investigating the archives over at his blog Speculiction, which covers both vintage and new SF ranging from Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty (2014) to John Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit (1969).

His post focuses on three stories from different authors including one of the best known from the pre-1969 era: the writing pair of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, Katherine MacLean, and Edna Underwood. As no discussion of women in pre-1969 SF would be complete without C.L. Moore, and it is often impossible to discern which stories she wrote individually and which she wrote with her husband Henry Kuttner, I gave the go ahead for Jesse to review one of their best known co-written short stories.

I hope you’ll track them down!

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(Katherine Maclean’s “The Snowball Effect” first appeared in the September 1952 issue of Galaxy, cover: Jack Coggins)

Review of “Vintage Season” (1945) by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952) by Katherine MacLean, and “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910) by Edna Underwood

By Jesse

Gender in science fiction is surely one of the top three subjects in online genre discussion these days.  The objectification of women, the roles of women in story, the lack of award recognition for female writers, the negative Continue reading Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories Pre-1969 by Women Authors: “Vintage Season” (1946), C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952), Katherine Maclean, “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910), Edna Underwood

Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories by Soviet Women Authors Pre-1969: “The Useless Planet” (1967), Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960), Valentina Zhuravlyova, “Life Space” (1969), Marietta Chudakova

The third guest post in my series SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 (original announcement and list of earlier posts) comes via Kaggsy (you can follow her on twitter), the proprietor extraordinaire of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings. A connoisseur of Russian literature (among other things) and a long-time commentator on the site, I got wind of her interest in Soviet SF reading her review of Kirill Bulychev’s collection Half a Life (1975, trans. 1977) and her acquisition posts of various Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow editions — Alexei Tolstoi’s Aelita (1923) and Destination: Amaltheia (1963), ed. Richard Dixon (image below).

Her post focuses on stories by three Soviet Women SF authors — Olga Larionova, Marietta Chudakova, and Valentina Zhuravlyova.  One story is from the cutoff date of 1969.

Enjoy!

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(Valentina Zhuravlyova’s “The Astronaut” can be found in Destination: Amaltheia, ed. Richard Dixon (1963), Cover: Nikolai Grishin)

Review of “The Useless Planet” (1967) by Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960) by Valentina Zhuravlyova, and “Life Space” 1969) by Marietta Chudakova

By Kaggsy

When I was approached by Joachim with a view to writing about three favourite short stories written by women writers pre-1969, I confess I did think twice. Although I’ve dipped in and out of sci fi over the years, specifically short stories and specifically written by women isn’t a demographic that necessarily fits Continue reading Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories by Soviet Women Authors Pre-1969: “The Useless Planet” (1967), Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960), Valentina Zhuravlyova, “Life Space” (1969), Marietta Chudakova