Tag Archives: art

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

Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Megan (twitter) over at From Couch to Moon—who, with boundless wit and intelligence, enjoys exploring the turbulent seas of lesser known SF both vintage and contemporary—provides the sixth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). Head over to her blog—do not miss her review of Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) written in his style and more recent rundowns of various award slates, the 2015 Kitschies for example.

Here are three reviews of 1950s short fiction by Judith Merril, Margaret St. Clair, and Kit Reed.

As always, the required exhortation, find copies!

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(“Survival Ship” appeared in the May 1955 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction, ed. John Carnell, cover: Gerard Quinn)

Reviews of “Survival Ship” (1951) by Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954) by Margaret St. Clair, and “The Wait” (1958) by Kit Reed

By Megan

Not being much of a short fiction reader, these were all new-to-me stories that I thought I might appreciate. A selection of fifties SF, all of which are dark and strange and rebellious, and examine the social and political pressures that are often Continue reading Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVI (Saxton + Harrison + Whiteley + New Worlds Anthology)

Procuring SF paperbacks never gets old! I have started scanning in the covers (two of the four below) in order to provide higher quality images (click to zoom)— especially if they are hard to find images online and/or I find them aesthetically pleasing (Powers + Lehr in this post).

Let me know if the change is worth it!

Book rundown:

Josephine Saxton: Despite reading The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969) years ago, my mind still traces the imprint of its strange ritualistic beauty . Her short fiction was published in a range of SF magazines and collections from 1965 to 1992.  I have tracked down a copy of her first collection. Despite its 1985 publication date, eight of the fourteen stories were published in the 60s/70s.

Harry Harrison: A “classic” author whose work I need to explore more: I’ve read Deathworld (1960), attempted to read Make Room! Make Room! (1966) and A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah (1972) at least three times, and Lifeship (1976), which he co-wrote with Gordon R. Dickson. I’ve encountered his short fiction here and there and found “By The Falls” (1970) a satisfying New Wave endeavor. Time for more short fiction!

New Worlds Anthology: I want all of them, end of story.

And finally, the selection bound to surprise and confuse my regular readers…. Aliya Whiteley: Despite my various protestations, I have not stopped reading new SF entirely.  And I couldn’t resist finding a copy of Whiteley’s well-received  fungal nightmare…. If you’re curious see Jesse’s review over at Speculiction.

1. Prime Number, Harry Harrison (1970)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVI (Saxton + Harrison + Whiteley + New Worlds Anthology)

Book Review: The Metallic Muse, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1972)

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(Ed Nuckolls’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s SF novels and collections but have not read any of his work since late 2011 when I reviewed The Light That Never Was (1972). Mike’s mostly positive review of his short stories in The Metallic Muse (1972) reminded me of my lack of knowledge of Biggle, Jr.’s strange brand of relatively breezy but earnest SF.  And due to an unnatural aggregation of cosmic particles, our ratings align with unnerving precision.

Many of the stories in The Metallic Muse center around the transformative power of music and art: for example, a song calls space orphans back home in “Orphan of the Void”; an artist dares to create non-commercial music in “The Tunesmith”; TV keeps the masses in line in “Well of the Deep Wish”; and a robotic violin teacher deprives a professor of his students in “Spare the Rod.”  Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s ebullient style of telling sometimes trivializes and simplifies the heady themes, but his inventiveness Continue reading Book Review: The Metallic Muse, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1972)

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)