Tag Archives: aliens

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans

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(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1968 edition of A Scent of New-Mown Hay (1958), John Blackburn)

2016 saw a resurgence in my cover art adventure posts. However, unlike the curated themed collections that prevailed a few years ago I focussed predominately on individual artists from a variety of countries (Portugal, Italy, Germany): my favorites include Max Ernst and His Landscapes of Decay on SF/F Covers, Haunting Landscapes and Cityscapes of Mariella Anderlini, and The Futuristic Cities of Lima De Freitas.   The last themed collection was way back in March 2015 — Tentacles and Other Strange Appendages.

I’ve decided to return to my roots (no pun intended)! Although partially inspired by my 2014 post Human Transformations/Transfigurations (one duplicate cover), I’d been thinking about providing a gallery on the theme after reading “Ganthi” (1958), a disturbing Miriam Allen deFord short story about sentient tree-aliens and their mysterious caretaker Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Humanoid Plants and Dendroid Humans

Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Dear readers, thank you all profusely for your comments, words of thanks, and emails over the year. It is my overarching goal to inspire you all to read more SF from the 50s-70s, dust off the boxes of your parents’ books in some forgotten closet, browse the shelves at your local used book store (or favorite online store), reflect on the often fascinating cover art…

2016 was not the most productive reading/reviewing year as my PhD dissertation defense date rapidly approaches. For the purposes of maintaining my sanity, reading and writing about SF remains my primary relaxation hobby—surprising perhaps as I read a lot of depressing SF that wouldn’t be “relaxing” for most people. According to Megan at From Couch to Moon I like my fiction “moody, broody, meta, and twisted.”

And other than a few satires here and there, my favorite SF reads of 2016 fit firmly within Megan’s descriptors.

Thanks again!

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Best novels

  1. The Affirmation, Christopher Priest (1981)
  2. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (variant title: The War of Dreams), Angela Carter (1972). Review forthcoming 
  3. The Dream Millennium, James White (serialized 1973, novel 1974)
  4. The Committed Men, M. John Harrison (1971)

Continue reading Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVIII (Disch + Vance + Dick + Watson)

There is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with a pile of vintage SF acquisitions!

You might notice the predominance over the coming weeks of UK publishers (Pan, Granada, Panther)—the images correspond to my editions. I acquired nine via a “secret” UK pipeline for a mere $3.50 each (with shipping) as a gift from my wife. Cue bad Chris Foss copycat (Tony Roberts and his ilk) covers. The disconnect between Thomas M. Disch’s 334 (1972) and the Tony Roberts spaceship pains me.

The books: A lesser known Ian Watson novel. Anyone know the cover artist? His short fiction inspires: A Very Slow Time Machine (1979). I found Jonah Kit (1975) worthwhile although I never reviewed it.

A Jack Vance novel that explores the nature of language…

A collection of early PKD stories. I’ve read the majority of his short fiction in my omnibus collections of his work but it might be worth the reread.

And finally, what I am most excited about, Disch’s best known collection of thematically linked short fiction….

Enjoy! As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Alien Embassy, Ian Watson (1977)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVIII (Disch + Vance + Dick + Watson)

Book Review: The Eclipse of Dawn, Gordon Eklund (1971)

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(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

“I hadn’t even voted in the last election.  I knew nothing about it, except Robert Colonby, how he wanted to make America strong again, how he said we ought to exert ourselves” (15).

Gordon Eklund’s first novel Eclipse of Dawn (1971) tells of a future dystopic America (the year 1988) chaffing under foreign quarantine and suffering from a major race war which results in African-Americans creating an autonomous political entity in the American South.  The effects of limited nuclear war spawns a poisonous urban environment and microclimates across the state of California. A return to “Victorian morality” presents but a facade of “purity laid across a morass of fear and guilt” (94).

Robert F. Colonby sets out from his residence amidst the bombed-out remains of Disneyland, where he dines on exotic cuts of meat and “wines dated back to the glory days” Continue reading Book Review: The Eclipse of Dawn, Gordon Eklund (1971)

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)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIII (Wolfe + Lichtenberg + Brown + Davidson)

One of the least known works on David Pringle’s The 100 Best Novels between 1949-1984 list and soon to be published as a Gollancz Masterwork…  For reference here’s a link to the list. Hopefully the Gollancz publication will bring the price down! (paperbacks go for ~30$ online).

A collection from a prolific 50s/60s primarily short-fiction SF author who died too young (at 41 due to lymphoma)….

Another Avram Davidson novel…

And a suspicious work by Jacqueline Lichtenberg described as for “admirers of the Early Heinlein”—of which I am obviously not.  But, then again, the way presses marketed new women authors took on strange guises in the period.  It might not feel like Heinlein in the slightest!

Two gorgeous covers by Richard Powers!

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. A Handful of Time, Rosel George Brown (1963)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIII (Wolfe + Lichtenberg + Brown + Davidson)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)

Prepare for a glut of “Recent Science Fiction Acquisition” posts!

From my recent travels and a gift from a friend (@SFPotpourri)….

Michael G. Coney is an odd bird.  If you’re curious what I might mean, check out my reviews of Friends Come in Boxes (1973) and Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975).  In short, I had to procure a short story collection!

Chad Oliver, an early proponent of anthropological SF, intrigues yet frustrates—I need to read more than The Shores of Another Sea (1971) to come to a firm conclusion about his fiction.

And Kate Wilhelm, my views are firmly established — in the spring of last year I put together a Kate Wilhelm guest post series.  Check it out!  I’ve posted reviews for the following: her early collection (for fans of 50s SF only) The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963), her spectacular collection with numerous award-winning stories (for fans of experimental SF) The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968), her solid SF + psychological horror novel Margaret and I (1971), and her even better novel Juniper Time (1979).

And New Dimensions IV (1974), an anthology edited by Silverberg—with a story from one of the unsung SF greats, David R. Bunch.  I have discussed but not reviewed his collection Moderan (1972).  I placed it on my top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series list.  And, has anyone read Felix C. Gotschalk?  It contains two stories by this unknown (at least to me) author.  An overall fantastic lineup (Malzberg, Lafferty, Dozois, Bunch, etc.)….

Thoughts? comments?

[does anyone know the artist for the Silverberg edited anthology?]

1. Monitor Found in Orbit, Michael G. Coney (1974)

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(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)