Category Archives: Science Fiction Book Reviews

Book Review: The Resurrectionist, Gary K. Wolf (1979)

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(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1979 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

“Corporate authorities referred to him instead as the Resurrectionist, the man who dragged the living back from electrical purgatory” (5)

Gary K. Wolf, best known for Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981), started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). Doubleday’s art director, Margo Herr, provided The Resurrectionist‘s captivating cover, which suggests the corruption of pattern, the subversion of delicate movement. A few reflective, but altogether too fleeting, moments suggest Wolf might have had similar ideas at the back Continue reading Book Review: The Resurrectionist, Gary K. Wolf (1979)

Career Highlights + Reminisce + Review: SF short story author Edward Bryant (1945-2017)

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(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1973 edition of Among the Dead and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse (1973), Edward Bryant)

On February 10th SF author and two-time Nebula Award winner Edward Bryant (1945-2017) passed away after a long illness. As the number of authors from my favorite era of SF is sadly dwindling as the years go by, I decided to briefly highlight his career and the stories of his I’ve read so far (too few!). Although primarily a short story author, Bryant co-wrote Phoenix in Ashes (1975) with Harlan Ellison. For more on his life and genre impact see the write-up posted after his death on Locus and his entry on SF Encyclopedia. I’ve decided to review two stories from his disturbing and powerful collection Among the Dead and Other Events Leading Up to the Apocalypse (1973).

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“The Hanged Man” (1972), short story, 4/5 (Good): “Shrikes were my playmates when I was about ten” (2). Two friends reminisce. But there’s a dark and sinister twist, one named Rockaway dangles, head downward tied by his feet to a tree branch and his friend refuses to cut him down…. Fragments of the world interjects into their unnerving conversion: family members have died, they survived by eating birds. Their conversation reflects Continue reading Career Highlights + Reminisce + Review: SF short story author Edward Bryant (1945-2017)

Book Review: Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight (1968) (Wilhelm + Silverberg + Vinge + Ellison + Lafferty, et al.)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1969 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

A quest for SF magazines! Alien possession and its psychological damage! The Supreme Court tackles future crime! And many more unusual visions….

Orbit 4 (1968) dethrones Orbit 3 (1968) for the overall collated rating crown (as of now) in the anthology sequence. All of the anthology so far contain worthwhile stories and should be tracked down by fans of SF from this era—see my reviews of Orbit 1 (1966) and Orbit 8 (1970).

Highly recommended for the Wilhelm, Emshwiller, Lafferty, Sallis, and Silverberg stories. A must buy Continue reading Book Review: Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight (1968) (Wilhelm + Silverberg + Vinge + Ellison + Lafferty, et al.)

Book Review: The New Atlantis and Other Novellas of Science Fiction, ed. Robert Silverberg (1975) (Le Guin + Wolfe + Tiptree, Jr.)

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(Jorge Hernandez’s cover for the 1975 edition)

4.75/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

Utopian dreams. Demonic spaceship cults. Grotesque cosmic pollination. Robert Silverberg’s edited original collections of novellas and novelettes strike gold again! See reviews of Triax (1979) (Keith Roberts, Jack Vance, James E. Gunn) and to a lesser degree The Crystal Ship (1976) (Marta Randall, Joan D. Vinge, Vondra McIntyre).

A few weeks ago I promised to read more of James Tiptree, Jr.’s fiction. With this in mind I rooted around my unread collections and found one of her stories in The New Atlantis and Other Novellas of Science Fiction, ed. Robert Silverberg (1975). This review pushed many others to the back burner…. It is that good. Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, and James Tiptree, Jr. do not disappoint. A holy trifecta?

Highly recommended for fans of intelligent Continue reading Book Review: The New Atlantis and Other Novellas of Science Fiction, ed. Robert Silverberg (1975) (Le Guin + Wolfe + Tiptree, Jr.)

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)