Tag Archives: apocalyptic

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVII (Piercy + Gotschalk + Bax + anthology edited by Haldeman)

1) Futuristic city? Yes! Is more needed? Okay, okay, I concede, more is needed. I hope Gotschalk’s novel with its fantastic Dean Ellis cover delivers. Among the least known of the Ace Science Fiction Special series…

Check out my older reviews of J. G. Ballard’s “Billennium” (1961)Future City, ed. Roger Elwood (1973), and The World Inside, Robert Silverberg (1971) for more SF on this theme of futuristic cities. If you delve through the archives you’ll find many more examples.

2) Ballard blurbs Martin Bax’s novel as “…the most exciting, stimulating and brilliantly conceived book I have read since Burroughs’ novels.” Hyperbole aside, the two reviews (here and here) I’ve read of Bax’s sole novel puts this at the top of my “to read” pile.

I have cheated a bit by including the cover for the first New Directions edition rather than the later Picador edition I own due to the cover quality.

3) Three acquisitions posts ago (here) I mentioned that the premise of Marge Piercy’s Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970) did not inspire me to read it anytime soon. Thankfully I found a copy of what many consider her masterpiece Woman at the Edge of Time (1976) cheap at the local used book store.

4) I am not sure why I picked this collection up—I’ve heard good things about Joe Haldeman’s introduction which draws on his experience in the Vietnam War. As Isaac Asimov, Mack Reynolds, etc are not normally authors who intrigue me, I might do something I rarely do and read and review Effinger’s story only (and maybe Poul Anderson’s as he’s better in short form)…

As always thoughts and comments are welcome.

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1. Growing up in Tier 3000, Felix C. Gotschalk (1976)

(Dean Ellis’ gorgeous cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVII (Piercy + Gotschalk + Bax + anthology edited by Haldeman)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)

1) Blunt statement: I need to read more of the Strugatski brothers. I devoured the The Ugly Swans (written 1966-1967, published 1979 in the US, published in 1987 in the USSR) but did not review it.

2) A fascinating speculative feminist novel from The Women’s Press–birth, myth, delusions, dreams, terror.  Few reviews exist online so I will go in without much knowledge of the work.

3) I placed Miriam Allen deFord’s collection (filled with numerous gems) Xenogenesis (1969) on a list of SF Gollancz’s Masterwork series should acquire. Her only other published collection for the longest time was priced far out of my reach. This is why you have Amazon lists… scan them frequently, find the deals!

4) A Ballard novel with “pervading auroral gloom, broken by inward shifts of light”? Count me in! As a fierce advocate of Ballard’s early fiction and novels, I cannot wait to read this one…

Related reviews: Billenium (1962), High-Rise (1975), The Voice of Time and Other Stories (1962). The Drowned World (1962) and The Drought (1964) clock in as my favorite of his novels—although both remain unreviewed… Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Terminal Beach (1964).

Scans are from my personal collection. Click to enlarge.

Thoughts/comments are welcome (as always)!

1. The Final Circle of Paradise, Arkadi and Boris Strugatski (1965, trans. 1976)

(Laurence Kresek’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)

Book Review: The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack), Emma Tennant (1973)

emma-tennant

(Candy Amsden’s disturbing cover for the 1978 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Emma Tennant’s The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack) (1973) takes the form of a series of character vignettes in a transmogrified London. Despite Tennant’s wide-ranging societal critiques,  it’s a brief book–my 1978 Penguin edition clocks in at 112 pages–threaded loosely together by the occasional presence of Baba, a Playboy bunny. The cataclysm in question, the appearance of an expanding crack under the Thames, although causing devastation, doubles as a metaphoric birth moment. The landscape modified, buildings contorted by the severance… And in the wreckage of what remains the survivors make postures towards all manners of “New” English societies Continue reading Book Review: The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack), Emma Tennant (1973)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

1) I made a “resolution” to read more John Sladek — miserable covers aside. Now what is that spaceman doing standing next the elephant? Although Sladek is rather on the surreal/comical end of things, Peter Goodfellow took the surreal title literally. Not his finest artistic moment. Now if only I could convince myself to put together my disperate thoughts on The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) into something cohesive.

2) Although New Worlds editor supreme” Michael Moorcock’s novels haven’t not received the warmest reception on my site, I am determined to get a better sense of his fiction by exploring his short work. And this collection seems fantastic! It’s illustrated, there’s a comic strip (image below), and the Savoy Books publication includes tons of fascinating blurbs about other books both speculative and non-genre.

See my reviews of An Alien Heat (1972) and The Ice Schooner (1969).

The title page of the Jerry Cornelius comic.

jerry-cornelius-comic

3) A lesser known James White novel… Only printed in the UK.

James White is one of THE finds of the last few years. Best known for simple but earnest (and pacifistic) 50s stories about doctors solving alien medical problems, his novels demonstrate surprising power. A reader and frequent commentator (see I listen!) suggested I procure one of his late 70s novels unknown to me. I cannot wait to read it.

See my reviews of The Dream Millennium (1973), All Judgement Fled (1968), and The Watch Below (1966).

4) I recently discussed Emma Tennant’s work and how she was influenced by the UK SF scene (Ballard et al) here. Yes, I showed my inner academic by citing a few articles — many fans don’t realize that there’s serious and fascinating academic study of the genre. And, as literary historians are wont to do, they provide (often) relevant and erudite analysis of development of genre etc. I would pull more in if time allowed.  I am currently reading Tennant’s novel and it’s intriguing so far!

Scans are from my own collection (in order to zoom in on the zany madness, click on the image).

I look forward to your comments/thoughts!

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

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.)

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)