Category Archives: Updates

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Digression: I have been thinking about “best of” lists and why I seldom approach an author by reading their “best known” work first.  Caveat: I compulsively read the Hugo list as a kid and was exposed to many wonderful authors.

Reading “the acknowledged best” reinforces our notions of what is canon or not canon.  And I am all about puncturing holes in our self-perpetuating notions of canon and SF grand narratives of what is “classic” SF and what is not.  The following dialogue often plays out:

A) “Have you read the best SF novels of the 1970s?”

B) “Yes, I have, from this great top 15 novels list!”

A) “What would you say are the best novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Oh, here you go!” Regurgitates original list.

A) “Have you read other SF novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Umm.”

I am guilty of this as well!  My top 1960s novels list undergoes regular revisions.  The original list was a product of my lack of knowledge.  Regardless, it remains to this day the most popular and commented upon post on my site!  Alas!

Sometimes “the less known” novels are a way to get a feel for what an author is capable of and seeing an author through their body of work leads (at least for me) to greater appreciation for their best (which might not be the ones anointed by the majority).  Barry N. Malzberg: I read In the Enclosure (1973) before  Beyond Apollo (1972).  Doris Piserchia:  Doomtime (1981) before A Billion Days of Earth (1976). Robert Silverberg: Thorns (1967) before Downward to the Earth  (1970).  Christopher Priest:  Indoctrinaire (1970) before The Affirmation (1981).

Third, I put great value on individual exploration. It is humorous and ironic that I have run this review site for six or so years but am reluctant to immediately follow-up on the reading suggestions of others.  I am sorry frequent readers!  I devour the reviews of others for sure (see Part I and Part II for worthwhile resources).  Well-argued reviews with evidence and an understanding of the work’s time and place and reflections on interactions with/or within genre, are more likely to remain with me.  And then, when I am in the book store, I remember what others have said.

The questions I have been pondering: Do I put together a best 20 novels of the 1970s list?  When do I decide whether I have read enough?  Or, do I play the “caveat” game and state that this is bound to change (which it is as I read more)?

Post proper:  My mapping of the contours of Kit Reed’s early oeuvre continues.  Her first SF novel Armed Camps (1969) and her stories in Mister Da V. and Other Stories (1967) demonstrate a knack for humanistic exploration of characters trapped in manifestations of cyclicality—be it social constructions or the forces of history.

David Gerrold’s novels do not inspire…..  At least so far: Space Skimmer (1972) + Yesterday’s Children (variant title: Starhunt) (1972).  Which means, time for short stories!  And yes, his acknowledged best The Man  Who Folded Himself (1973) waits in the wings [From Couch to Moon’s review —> here].

Non-English language SF other than Stanislaw Lem and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: the biggest hole in my SF knowledge.

And perhaps the find/risk of the bunch, a satirical pseudo-governmental pamphlet that generated endless debate about its authenticity.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. With a Finger in My I, David Gerrold (1972)

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(Mati Klarwein’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acqusitions No.CLVIII (Tucker + Charnas + Coppel + Sheckley)

September will be a slow month, my apologies in advance.  The review backlog grows and grows–reviews of Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970) and The Best SF Stories from New Worlds #2 (1968) should be appearing soon.  Although, there are many unreviewed volumes less fresh on my memory…

At least I have a massive review INDEX to keep you all busy.

I am diligently posting all the KWG volumes I snagged from a local Half Price Books—this shadowy person had a spectacular collection.

I am rarely interested in SF series, but, I’ll make an exception as Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) was so darn amazing!

More Sheckley!

More Tucker! Fresh off the very satisfying The Long Loud Silence (1952)

And finally, a novel from an author I’ve never read before—Alfred Coppel.

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.

1. Motherlines, Suzy McKee Charnas (1978)

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(Doug Beekman’s very bland cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acqusitions No.CLVIII (Tucker + Charnas + Coppel + Sheckley)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVII (Sturgeon + Sheckley + Scortia + Mannes)

I can’t pass up a Sheckley collection!

Nor can I pass up a rather unknown “discovered manuscript” type 1960s feminist dystopia by Marya Mannes.  She wrote for Vogue and The New Yorker over her career….

Nor can I pass up a Sturgeon collection (perhaps I will appreciate his more radical SF short stories?)….

And finally, a best of collection by an author who might not be worth exploring, but, sometimes short stories give a better impression of an author’s capabilities than a novel-length work.

As always, thoughts/observations/comments are welcome!

1. They, Marya Mannes (1968)

they

(Stanley Zuckerberg’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVII (Sturgeon + Sheckley + Scortia + Mannes)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVI (Budrys + New Writings in SF Anthologies)

Another batch of volumes from the mysterious person with the initials KWG who ditched their entire collection at the local Half Price Books.

I have rarely seen the New Writings in SF series edited by John Carnell on used bookstore shelves.  But, as I am a fan of discovering new authors who might not have collected volumes of short stories, it pretty easy to justify snatching them up….  A while back I featured the covers of David Mccall Johnson, and now I have my first physical copy with his art!

More Algis Budrys…  Is it my need to read the major “classics” so I can “rewrite” the canon?  Certainly not out of any love for his SF (or criticism for that matter) —> see my review of The Falling Torch (1959) and my short review of Michaelmas (1976).  I will probably read his short story collection I recently acquired before another one of his novels.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome/appreciated.

Enjoy!

1. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys (1960)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVI (Budrys + New Writings in SF Anthologies)

Updates: Additions to My Incomplete List of Worthwhile Classic Science Fiction Blogs/Resources

TRVLNGS1978 WPNGMT1978

(José Cruz’s cover for The Traveling Soul (1978), Hugh C. Rae; Carl Lundgren’s cover for Weeping May Tarry (1978), Raymond F. Jones and Lester del Rey)

Around three years ago I put together a list of sites and resources that exerted an appealing gravitational pull…. drawing me into their SF depths.  And it is time to add to the list!  If you haven’t seen the original and you like my site I recommend checking it out.

Unfortunately, a few from the original list have gone defunct or are on hiatus.  I will echo (and amend) my earlier call to arms!

“I love the idea of a community of science fiction reviewers–so I’ve put together a list of a handful of book review blogs focused on classic/slightly more esoteric science fiction.  Obviously there are plenty of great sites I’ve omitted that focus on new releases or visit vintage science fiction only occasionally….  Or, blogs that refrain from reviews of vintage science fiction unless participating in certain reading challenges….

Please visit them, comment on their reviews, and browse through their back catalogues.”

1. From Couch to Moon: Megan’s site focuses on classic SF (in addition to worthwhile read-throughs of newer award slates etc).  What perhaps delights me the most, other than her voracious SF passion and intellect that shows through in every review, are her stylistic pastiches—for example, her review of John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) in his style: “This is sensory overload. Polemics in the form of ADHD. Part oracle, part Anarchist Cookbook. A graduate of The Space Merchants Academy, hold the cheese.”

A sample of her reviews: a mini-flash paragraph Continue reading Updates: Additions to My Incomplete List of Worthwhile Classic Science Fiction Blogs/Resources

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)

A person with the initials K.W.G ditched their entire SF collection at my local Half Price Books.  So many books that the store made a new SF anthology section that did not exist a few months ago and the “vintage” SF books made up more than half the non-vintage SF section.  I spent too much money.  One of many future SF Acquisitions posts featuring books from the mysterious K. W. G….

A famous anthology important for showcasing UK authors in America!  I’ve included the lengthy description of the collection by Ace and their position vis-à-vis New Wave SF.  I find it humorous that the publisher has to defend their position!

An often praised 1950s post-apocalyptical novel by Wilson Tucker….  My 1969 edition was “rewritten” by the author–unfortunately, I have already started reading it (not sure how much it will tell me about  its position in 1950s SF if it were rewritten in the 60s).  Perhaps someone knows how much was changed?  Admiral Ironbombs wrote a worthwhile review here.

Fred Saberhagen’s best known work.

And one of the few Frank Herbert novels I have not read…

Thoughts and comments are always welcome.

1. England Swings SF: Stories of Speculative Fiction, ed. Judith Merril (1968)

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(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIV (Farmer + Shaw + Van Scyoc + Monteleone)

Over the last few months I’ve been reading more of Philip José Farmer’s 50s/60s SF — including the novelization of Night of Light (1966) [unreviewed], his deservedly famous 1968 Hugo-winning novella “Riders of the Purple Wage” (1967) [unreviewed], and the short story collection The Alley God (1962).  I still hold that Strange Relations (1960) contains his most sustained and well-formed short fiction.  For extensive discussion of his work, see the reviews (and their comments) I linked and for my views on his later SF more broadly — i.e.  such as the 1973 novel Traitor to the Living.   I rather not recap here.   But, I have another one of his novels, I appear to be returning to his 70s work…

A novel with Chicago as a character over the millennia?  Might as well give it a go, right?

I might snark occasionally at Bob Shaw, but, yet another one of his early novels enters my collection.  Maybe the Diane and Leo Dillon cover sealed the deal rather than the probably dull contents.

And, I return to Sydney J. Van Scyoc…  Her novel Assignment Nor’Dyren (1973) was one of my earliest reviews—written before the site even started—and I have no idea what I would say about it now.

Thoughts? Comments?

1. The Stone God Awakens, Philip José Farmer (1970)

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(J.H. Breslow’s cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIV (Farmer + Shaw + Van Scyoc + Monteleone)