Tag Archives: apocalyptic

Guest Post: Year of the Cloud, Kate Wilhelm and Theodore L. Thomas (1970)

The third in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Mike White (twitter)—a research biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, MO—who blogs on mostly early SF (pre-1920) and a variety of science topics with a whole cast of other writers at The Finch and the Pea (a “public house for science”).  This is his first contribution to one of my guest post series and it is greatly appreciated (and won’t be his last).

He selected, on purpose (in very Joachim Boaz fashion I might add), what might be Kate Wilhelm’s least known SF novel.  Early in her career she wrote two novels with Theodore L. Thomas: the Nebula-nominated The Clone (1965) and Year of the Cloud (1970).



(Francois Colos’ cover for the 1970 edition)

Post-apocalyptic stories do many things, one of which is to question our mastery of nature. We’re used to relying on technology to bend the world to our will — science stands between us and the brute forces of nature. Extinction is for lesser species. But post-apocalyptic stories remind us of all the ways that nature could wipe us out: the Earth could collide with a comet or pass through a toxic cloud of space gas, the sun could fade or go nova, or some pandemic plague could arise that kills us directly, wipes out our food supply, or turns us into the walking dead.

As horrifying as these events would be in real life, there is a strain of post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn’t see these disasters as all bad. Killing off most of humanity offers, in fiction anyway, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. With the post-holocaust world much less crowded, noisy, and Continue reading Guest Post: Year of the Cloud, Kate Wilhelm and Theodore L. Thomas (1970)

Book Review: Third From the Sun, Richard Matheson (1955)

(John Richards’ cover for the 1961 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

I have a confession to make.  I have never read Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954).  I do not like vampires.  I do not like any movies or TV shows with vampires.  Thus, as is my wont when trying a new author, I procured a short story collection to experience a range Continue reading Book Review: Third From the Sun, Richard Matheson (1955)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Jakes + Anthology + Malzberg + Zelazny)

Roger Zelazny’s most radical (according to some critics) novel…

A fun Ace Double with a rather disturbing face imprisoned in a skull cover by Kelly Freas….

More Malzberg (one can never have enough)…

And another anthology from the single best year of SF — 1972!  (my opinion of course).


1. Tonight We Steal The Stars / The Wagered World, John Jakes / Laurence M. Janifer and S. J. Treibich (1969) (Ace Double)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Jakes + Anthology + Malzberg + Zelazny)

Book Review: Friends Come in Boxes, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(John Holmes’ cover for the 1973 edition)

4.25/5 (Good)


Michael G. Coney’s focus on everyday struggles—the normal minutiae of life—reached wonderful heights in the lyrical paean to youth and youthful travails Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975).  While the true import of Hello Summer, Goodbye‘s narrative only slowly unfurls as the young man comes of age and perceives more about his world, the world of  Friends Come in Boxes (1973) relentlessly writhes and boils as each main character is compelled to commit a crime Continue reading Book Review: Friends Come in Boxes, Michael G. Coney (1973)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Malzberg + Robinson + Berk + Ball)

A few more books from Carl V. Anderson‘s gift + two acquisitions of my own.  Including my first Spider Robinson novel, an unknown post-apocalyptical quantity via Howard Beck, and more pulp by Brian N. Ball—not going to lie, Singularity Station (1973) was fun!

I now own a nearly complete Barry N. Malzberg collection of his SF solo works (i.e. no co-written novels with Bill Pronzini).  What I am missing: his first two novels which are more speculative rather than SF, Oracle of a Thousand Hands (1968), Screen (1968), his SF novel Scop (1976), his movie novelization Phase IV (1973) which I have held off buying despite seeing it for cheap in used stores, and his non-SF novel Underlay (1974).  I have all his collections of short fiction pre-1994 other than Final War and Other Fantasies (1969), The Best of Barry N. Malzberg (1976), and Down Here in Dream Quarter (1976).

Thus, I own a grand total of 28 Malzberg novels and collections!


1. Overlay, Barry N. Malzberg (1972)

Screen shot 2015-03-11 at 10.14.49 AM

(Ray Feibush’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Malzberg + Robinson + Berk + Ball)

Book Review: Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight (1970)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

The avant-garde leaning Orbit anthology series, edited by Damon Knight, had an illustrious run from 1966-1976.  Recently I have become more and more intrigued by the anthology as a way to access a wider range of authors and radical visions.  Despite my rather lowish collated rating of Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock, it was a satisfying collection which exposed me to the SF of Langdon Jones and Pamela Zoline.  Likewise, it somewhat rehabilitated my view of Charles Platt whose Planet of the Voles (1971) has long been one of my least favorite SF novels.

Anthologies are fascinating cross sections of the genre reflecting what was perceived as worthwhile SF by editors.  They will almost always be more uneven than single author collections.  But the exposure to forgotten authors and authors who never received a single author collection makes them almost always worthwhile.

Orbit 8 (1970) is no exception.  The anthology swings wildly from Gardner Dozois’ masterpiece “Horse of Air” (1970) Continue reading Book Review: Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight (1970)

Book Review: Triax, ed. Robert Silverberg (1977)

(Justin Todd’s cover for the 1979 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Triax (1978) contains three original novellas written specifically for the volume.  I concur with Robert Silverberg’s defense of the novella form in the introduction, “it allows the leisurely development of an idea, the careful and elaborate exploration of the consequences of the fictional situation, while at the same time not requiring the intricate plot-and-counterplot scaffolding of a true novel” (vii).  Keith Roberts’ “Molly Zero” and James Gunn’s “If I Forget Thee” have not appeared in subsequent English-language collections. Unsurprisingly, the Jack Vance novella, “Freitzke’s Turn,” appeared in Galactic Effectuator (1980) Continue reading Book Review: Triax, ed. Robert Silverberg (1977)