Tag Archives: art

Book Review: The Pastel City, M. John Harrison (1971)

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(Bruce Pennington’s cover for the 1971 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

One of the previous owners of my copy of M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) must have harbored a pernicious grudge against corroded landscapes and nebulous morals.  So much in fact that they propped up the first volume of the Viriconium sequence against a tree and used it for BB gun target practice. I am still trying to identify the cause of the book’s other wounds… [pictorial evidence below].

As one can expect from Harrison, decadence and decay seeps from the quires of The Pastel City as characters try to create meaning, or grasp hold of half-formed Continue reading Book Review: The Pastel City, M. John Harrison (1971)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

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(Irving Freeman and Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1st ed. of The Sheep Look Up (1972), John Brunner)

John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972) would easily make my top fifteen SF novels of the 1970s—it’s far better than anything else he produced in the decade, although some might argue that The Shockwave Rider (1975) comes close.  Other than the novel’s unforgettable power, the first edition cover by Irving Freeman and Mark Rubio for Harper & Row remains seared in my memory.  The  1973 Ballantine first edition paperback also used the same art.

The harrowing nature of the story, decaying bodies/pollution, matches perfectly the ram-horned figures on human torsos, gas masks upturned… The distance to the horizon line, rendered via black horizontal lines, results in Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

[short] Diaristic Fragments on Japanese New Wave Film: Nagisa Ôshima’s Empire of Passion (1978), Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide (1969), Shûji Terayama’s Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974), and Shôhei Imamura’s The Pornographers (1966)

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(Still from The Pornographers (1966), dir. Shôhei Imamura)

In the beginning the “Other Suspect Ruminations” part of my site’s title referred to my filmic obsessions. It’s been five years since I’ve posted along those lines. As diligent readers might be able to tell, I am fascinated by the general historical context (and earlier) of the SF decades I enjoy the most—from the Czech New Wave to the Japanese New Wave, from 60s/70s political jazz to the surrealists.

Until a few months ago my experience with Japanese New Wave film was limited to Hiroshi Teshigahara’s collaborations with the Japanese author (of SF and literature) Kôbô Abe—The Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1966) and Pitfall (1962)—and a few surreal Seijun Suzuki yakuza flics including Branded to Kill (1967) and Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Masahiro Shinoda’s hyper-stylized Pale Flower (1964). I highly recommend all of the above, especially The Face of Another (1966) if you’re interested in Japanese New Wave’s take on science fiction.

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(A tantalizing scene from The Face of Another)

Recently my horizons have expanded. I am in no way a scholar of Japan or claim to be knowledgeable about Japanese culture, however, the narrative experimentation Continue reading [short] Diaristic Fragments on Japanese New Wave Film: Nagisa Ôshima’s Empire of Passion (1978), Masahiro Shinoda’s Double Suicide (1969), Shûji Terayama’s Pastoral Hide and Seek (1974), and Shôhei Imamura’s The Pornographers (1966)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIV (Moorcock + Wilhelm + Schmidt + Effinger)

New books join the ranks of their happy brethren on my shelves…

Let’s start with Arno Schmidt’s 1957 SF parable (English translation 1979)–The Egghead Republic : A Short Novel from the Horse Latitudes… First, before you are tempted to buy the novel check out this fascinating series of images via Biblioklept from Schmidt’s later behemoth 1970 novel + rumination on James Joyce, Bottom’s Dream.  You must be able to tolerate this level of experimentation.  Although The Egghead Republic is far less intense and much shorter, it is not for the fainthearted (and probably not for fans of “SF only” or those who are frustrated with “artifice” or “literary” or “the author in the story”).  There is a reason he wasn’t translated into English for a long long time!  Here’s an image (with some of my notes) for demonstration purposes [click to enlarge]

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And more experimentation in the SF fold via Moorcock and his then wife Hilary Bailey.  Graced with a gorgeous Leo and Diane Dillon cover, as always.

Added to the mix is one of George Alec Effinger’s lesser known novels–I do not have high hopes despite how much I loved Heroics (1979) and his masterpiece What Entropy Means to Me (1972).

An early Kate Wilhelm novel, although I’ll be sticking to her late 60s/early 70s short stories for a while–they are that good!  See my review of Abyss (1971) and The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fictions (1968).

As always comments/thoughts are welcome.

Has anyone read Schmidt?  I read a review where this particular novel was compared to Lem.

Enjoy the covers!

1. The Black Corridor, Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey (1969)

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(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIV (Moorcock + Wilhelm + Schmidt + Effinger)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIII (Simak + Moore + Universe Anthology + Lewin)

I had a choice, one of the worst SF covers I have ever seen vs. a standard Richard Powers cover. Despite my undying Powers love, I chose the worst (weird white face bathed in purple/pink strangeness)…. you know…. a conversation starter? As I have read little of Simak’s non-novel SF, I was quite happy to I come across one of his collections at the local bookstore.

Ward Moore’s 1953 alt-history classic fetches quite the price online. Perhaps due to a renewed interest as it was recently published in the Gollancz Masterwork series. Regardless, I found a 70s edition (alas, a bland cover) for a few dollars. I’ve been listening to his humorous satire of salesmen Greener Than You Think (1947) as an ebook while at the gym and thought I’d give his most famous novel a go…

My Universe anthology series grows and grows–and, this one contains authors new to me, including Howard Waldrop, F. M. Busby, and Lee Killough.

Thoughts/comments welcome!  I doubt many will support my choice of picking the hideous cover over Powers, but, I can submit a picture of it to our esteemed purveyor of trash covers, Good Show, Sir!

1. Bring the Jubilee, Ward Moore (1953)

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(Jeff Jones’ cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXIII (Simak + Moore + Universe Anthology + Lewin)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXII (Vance + Rucker + Kaye + Godwin + Orbit Anthology)

More SF joins the ranks that cover my shelves, from a Jack Vance Demon Princes sequence novel to a promising Orbit anthology with early Vernor Vinge, Carol Emshwiller, Harlan Ellison, etc.

And the covers!  Powers and Lehr at their best…

And what happened to SF art the 80s? (the Rudy Rucker novel cover terrifies — in a bad way).

As always, thoughts/comments are appreciated!

1.The Palace of Love, Jack Vance (serialized 1966)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1967 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXII (Vance + Rucker + Kaye + Godwin + Orbit Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXI (Ellison + Sterling + Fast + Paul)

As is my wont, a wide range of authors, SF styles, and covers…. From Harlan Ellison’s collection with the first expanded and non-magazine publication of his famous  1970 Nebula Award-winning and Hugo-nominated novella “A Boy and His Dog” (1969) to Barbara Paul’s best-known SF novel.

And, how can you resist the gorgeous Karel Thole cover for Fast’s collection?  I know little about the author….

And finally, in my youth I was a cyberpunk fanatic and I adored (perhaps I was misguided, hah) Bruce Sterling’s Islands in the Net (1988).  At last I have his first novel in my hands!

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome!

1. The General Zapped an Angel, Howard Fast (1970)

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(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXI (Ellison + Sterling + Fast + Paul)