Tag Archives: avant-garde

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLI (Lessing + Zelazny + Engh + Priest)

Fresh off reading Christopher Priest’s An Infinite Summer (1979) and his even more amazing novel The Affirmation (1981) (which I’ve been unable to review for a variety of reasons), I acquired yet another one of his challenging gems….

And M.J. Engh’s Arslan (1975), which appears to polarize audiences—for example, Ian Sales’ negative review of her novel [here].  One of the odder and lesser known Golancz SF Masterwork inclusions for sure….  I.e. normally my cup of tea.  Seriously problematic seems to be Arslan‘s operating word.

And more Zelazny novels! I’m close to owning everything he wrote, other than the Amber sequence, up to the 1980s.

And there’s nothing wrong with more Lessing! (I wish MPorcius would stop writing such intriguing reviews of her work—haha.  Here’s his review of Briefing for a Descent Into Hell).

As always, thoughts?

1. Arslan, M. J. Engh (1975)

arslan

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLI (Lessing + Zelazny + Engh + Priest)

Book Review: Irrational Numbers, George Alec Effinger (1976)

IRRATNUM1976

(Michael Flanagan’s cover for the 1976 edition)

4.5/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

George Alec Effinger’s What Entropy Means to Me (1972) exemplifies the elements of the New Wave movement that continue to fascinate me, i.e. a fascination that compels my endless OrbitNebulaUniverse, etc. anthology purchases!  Effinger’s short fiction holds the same allure—he tackles a vast variety of subjects and themes: trauma, commercialization, sports, and biological apocalypse are paired with the daily experience, the mundane.  Interested in SF about a man obsessed with his fish tank confronting his disintegrating relationship and the end of the world?  A regimented cult, or psychological experiment (?), organized around Mithraic ritual and the memorization Continue reading Book Review: Irrational Numbers, George Alec Effinger (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXL (Vance + Pournelle + Sucharitkul + Crowley)

A more disparate series of SF novels would be hard to come by…. John Crowley has long impressed—The Deep (1975) and Beasts (1976) are highly recommended works of literary SF.  And finally, I have the last one of his 70s novels!

A new author in Somtow Sucharitkul (sometimes known by S. P. Somtow)…

Vance’s most famous work and one of only a handful of supposedly top-tier “classics” I have yet to read…

Pournelle anyone? First work by him as well… Baen book picked up a number of his novels so I don’t have high hopes.

Thoughts?

1. Engine Summer, John Crowley (1979)

NGNSMMRSLD1979

(Gary Friedman’s cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXL (Vance + Pournelle + Sucharitkul + Crowley)

Book Review: Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr (1971)

UNVRS11971

(Davis Meltzer’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.75/5 (Collated rating: Good)

Won the Locus 1972 Award for Best Original Anthology.

The Universe series of anthologies contained original SF that had not yet appeared in print.  And, the inaugural volume Universe 1 (1971) ed. by Terry Carr certainly hit critical pay dirt: Robert Silverberg’s minimalist the first robotic pope tale won the Nebula for Best Short Story, George Alec Effinger’s anti-war black comedy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Joanna Russ’ alt-history (sort of) fable was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and Edgar Pangborn’s sentient “alien” animals look for a caretaker mood piece was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette.

On the whole the quality is fairly Continue reading Book Review: Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr (1971)

Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

[The second of four review catch up posts.  The first — > here]

1. Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1979 edition)

5/5 (collated rating: Masterpiece)

Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years (1979) takes the form of a complex and multi-layered future history of a single city, the Urban Nucleus of Atlanta, Georgia—entombed/reborn under a vast dome where even the sky is obscured.  Over the course of seven short SF works linked by recurring characters (and character references), theme, and chronology Bishop weaves one of the more spectacular future history canvases.  This is a future history of a profoundly human scope focusing on transformative junctures in the life of the city from the point of view of a range of the inhabitants—from the old to the young, from technicians to recluses obsessed with bonsai, from teachers to human caregivers of the alien visitors…  And most intriguing is Bishop’s willingness to Continue reading Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIX (Yarbro + Jones + Priest + Anthology)

Another Priest collection!—go find An Infinite Summer (1979)…

A collection by Yarbro—did not care for False Dawn (1978)…

A wonderful anthology with Robert Silverberg, Joanna Russ, Ron Goulart (whom I have never read), Gregory Benford, Gordon Eklund, Wilson Tucker, Edward Bryant, R. A. Lafferty, George Alec Effinger, Barry N. Malzberg, Gerard F. Conway, Edgar Pangbon…

And finally, the sole collection by one of the important (but lesser known) proponents of the New Wave…

Two (guess which!) are gifts from my wife who definitely knows my SF tastes…

Thoughts?

  1. Cautionary Tales, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)

Cautionary-Tales-Chelsea-Quinn-Yarbro-Panther-UK

(Uncredited cover for the 1983 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “A bizarre and haunting journey through inner and outer space—to alien worlds where an aging playwright is in danger of losing his soul to a monstrous organic computer…. a charming teeny-bopper ghoul solves the problem of hunger in the town morgue… a member of the patrol squad on a dreary, useless planet is lured by the sucking darkness of evil Scranton’s marsh… the frozen steerage passengers on a floundering space ship share a gruesome fate… malevolent forces on the other side of death are held at bay by a huge black swan… and other strange and wondrous events Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIX (Yarbro + Jones + Priest + Anthology)

Short SF Book Reviews: If All Else Fails…., Craig Strete (1980), My Petition for More Space, John Hersey (1974), and All Judgement Fled, James White (serialized 1967)

[Preliminary Note: This year saw a massive drop off in the number of reviews I’ve managed to put together due to professional pressures etc.  I wish I had been able to write fuller reviews–especially as much of the SF I read is lesser known and deserves a wider audience.  In some cases, I waited too long to write and thus loss the necessary momentum.  I have ten or so more waiting in the wings–hopefully they will allow me “to catch up” so to speak.]

1. If All Else Fails…, Craig Strete (1980)

FLLLSFLSDC1980

(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1980 edition)

4.75/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

Craig Strete, one of the few Native American SF authors, picked up three Nebula Award nominations for short SF over the 70s and early 80s (“The Bleeding Man” in 1976, “Time Deer” in 1976, and “A Sunday Visit With Great-Grandfather” in 1981 although it was withdrawn).  The first two are in If All Else Fails… (1980).   They are both far from the best of the collection.

Favorites: “All My Statues Have Stone Wings” (1980), “To See the City Sitting on Its Buildings” (1975), and “A Horse of a Different Technicolor” (1975).

The pages reek with despair at the loss of Native American culture ….  The narrator of the “All My Statues” is reminded of his “grandfather who died humming all the songs he had kept silent because there was no one left to sing them” (11).  In “To See the City” the dead try to escape the concrete prisons of the cities that desecrate the holy places: “Buried animal and ground Continue reading Short SF Book Reviews: If All Else Fails…., Craig Strete (1980), My Petition for More Space, John Hersey (1974), and All Judgement Fled, James White (serialized 1967)