Tag Archives: Barry N. Malzberg

Book Review: Real-Time World, Christopher Priest (1974)

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(Uncredited (Pennington?) cover for the 1976 edition)

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Christopher Priest’s An Infinite Summer (1979) clocks in as my second highest rated single-author collection, behind Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years (1979), so far in the life of my site.  I find Priest’s fiction intense and hypnotic.

As Real-Time World (1974) contains a range of Priest’s first published short stories, one cannot escape the feel that he is still trying to find his way as an author.  Similar indecision characterized his first novel Indoctrinaire (1970). The best stories in the collection revolve around the themes—the complex nature of perception and reality, psychologically unsettled environments and characters, voyeurism and performance—that his later Continue reading Book Review: Real-Time World, Christopher Priest (1974)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Digression: I have been thinking about “best of” lists and why I seldom approach an author by reading their “best known” work first.  Caveat: I compulsively read the Hugo list as a kid and was exposed to many wonderful authors.

Reading “the acknowledged best” reinforces our notions of what is canon or not canon.  And I am all about puncturing holes in our self-perpetuating notions of canon and SF grand narratives of what is “classic” SF and what is not.  The following dialogue often plays out:

A) “Have you read the best SF novels of the 1970s?”

B) “Yes, I have, from this great top 15 novels list!”

A) “What would you say are the best novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Oh, here you go!” Regurgitates original list.

A) “Have you read other SF novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Umm.”

I am guilty of this as well!  My top 1960s novels list undergoes regular revisions.  The original list was a product of my lack of knowledge.  Regardless, it remains to this day the most popular and commented upon post on my site!  Alas!

Sometimes “the less known” novels are a way to get a feel for what an author is capable of and seeing an author through their body of work leads (at least for me) to greater appreciation for their best (which might not be the ones anointed by the majority).  Barry N. Malzberg: I read In the Enclosure (1973) before  Beyond Apollo (1972).  Doris Piserchia:  Doomtime (1981) before A Billion Days of Earth (1976). Robert Silverberg: Thorns (1967) before Downward to the Earth  (1970).  Christopher Priest:  Indoctrinaire (1970) before The Affirmation (1981).

Third, I put great value on individual exploration. It is humorous and ironic that I have run this review site for six or so years but am reluctant to immediately follow-up on the reading suggestions of others.  I am sorry frequent readers!  I devour the reviews of others for sure (see Part I and Part II for worthwhile resources).  Well-argued reviews with evidence and an understanding of the work’s time and place and reflections on interactions with/or within genre, are more likely to remain with me.  And then, when I am in the book store, I remember what others have said.

The questions I have been pondering: Do I put together a best 20 novels of the 1970s list?  When do I decide whether I have read enough?  Or, do I play the “caveat” game and state that this is bound to change (which it is as I read more)?

Post proper:  My mapping of the contours of Kit Reed’s early oeuvre continues.  Her first SF novel Armed Camps (1969) and her stories in Mister Da V. and Other Stories (1967) demonstrate a knack for humanistic exploration of characters trapped in manifestations of cyclicality—be it social constructions or the forces of history.

David Gerrold’s novels do not inspire…..  At least so far: Space Skimmer (1972) + Yesterday’s Children (variant title: Starhunt) (1972).  Which means, time for short stories!  And yes, his acknowledged best The Man  Who Folded Himself (1973) waits in the wings [From Couch to Moon’s review —> here].

Non-English language SF other than Stanislaw Lem and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: the biggest hole in my SF knowledge.

And perhaps the find/risk of the bunch, a satirical pseudo-governmental pamphlet that generated endless debate about its authenticity.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. With a Finger in My I, David Gerrold (1972)

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(Mati Klarwein’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Short Book Reviews: Theodore Sturgeon’s Venus Plus X (1960), Christopher Priest’s The Affirmation (1981), and Barry N. Malzberg’s Screen (1968)

Cycle: read a book, place it in the review pile, the immediacy of the novel fades slightly or the novel fights every moment of the review writing process (–> Priest’s masterpiece The Affirmation), never review it, feel bad that I never reviewed the novel, read less in order to catch up…

Result: less reading and more pouting.

Remedy: In order to catch up, here are short/less intensive reviews with links to in-depth analysis (if it exists).  Part I + II (books by Budrys, Strete, White, Bishop, etc).

1. Venus Plus X, Theodore Sturgeon (1960)

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(Victor Kalin’s cover for the 1960 edition) Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Theodore Sturgeon’s Venus Plus X (1960), Christopher Priest’s The Affirmation (1981), and Barry N. Malzberg’s Screen (1968)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)

Prepare for a glut of “Recent Science Fiction Acquisition” posts!

From my recent travels and a gift from a friend (@SFPotpourri)….

Michael G. Coney is an odd bird.  If you’re curious what I might mean, check out my reviews of Friends Come in Boxes (1973) and Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975).  In short, I had to procure a short story collection!

Chad Oliver, an early proponent of anthropological SF, intrigues yet frustrates—I need to read more than The Shores of Another Sea (1971) to come to a firm conclusion about his fiction.

And Kate Wilhelm, my views are firmly established — in the spring of last year I put together a Kate Wilhelm guest post series.  Check it out!  I’ve posted reviews for the following: her early collection (for fans of 50s SF only) The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963), her spectacular collection with numerous award-winning stories (for fans of experimental SF) The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968), her solid SF + psychological horror novel Margaret and I (1971), and her even better novel Juniper Time (1979).

And New Dimensions IV (1974), an anthology edited by Silverberg—with a story from one of the unsung SF greats, David R. Bunch.  I have discussed but not reviewed his collection Moderan (1972).  I placed it on my top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series list.  And, has anyone read Felix C. Gotschalk?  It contains two stories by this unknown (at least to me) author.  An overall fantastic lineup (Malzberg, Lafferty, Dozois, Bunch, etc.)….

Thoughts? comments?

[does anyone know the artist for the Silverberg edited anthology?]

1. Monitor Found in Orbit, Michael G. Coney (1974)

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(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVIII (Lafferty + Shaw + Wilhelm + Thomas + Anthology)

A nice range of 60s/70s SF….

A wonderful Richard Powers cover and another by Don Punchatz which grows on me ever day (hauntingly surreal in its illustration of the book’s plot)….

Bob Shaw is Mr. Perpetually Average–see my reviews of Ground Zero Man (1971) and One Million Tomorrow (1971)—but MPorcius claims Night Walk (1968) is worth the read [here]—I took a peek at the first few pages and it shows promise.  But SF Potpourri’s lengthy rundown of his other work casts a shadow [here]!

Who can pass up Lafferty?  I have to admit, the premise of this particular novel does not appeal to me in the slightest.  But, I purchased the book for less than $2 and it’s a $25+ (with shipping) paperback online!

Another Ted Thomas and Kate Wilhelm collaboration—one of my Kate Wilhelm’s SF guest posts [here], by Mike White, argues convincingly that it is not one of her better novels…. alas.

And an anthology edited by Robert Hoskins.

Thoughts/comments?

Some great covers!

1. The Reefs of Earth, R. A. Lafferty (1968)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVIII (Lafferty + Shaw + Wilhelm + Thomas + Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLIII (Two themed anthologies: Election Day 2084 and TV: 2000 + Harrison + Gary)

Two themed anthologies—one in “honor” of the election [*cough* I mean, well, I won’t go all political] year cycle…  Another on one of my favorite SF themes, television of the future!

That said, both Asimov edited collections (from the 80s but with stories from only earlier decades) have a serious fault: out of the combined 35 stories there is not a single story by a woman author.  I’ve read a vast number of 60s/70s collections which do not fall into this trap…. Orbit 1 (1966) almost manages gender parity!  I can think of numerous stories by women authors that fit both themes.  For example, Kit Reed’s wonderful “At Central” (1967) fits the TV anthology!

A hard to find for cheap early M. John Harrison novel…. Unfortunately I only found a much uglier edition that the one I show below as the rest were out of my price range….

And, a complete shot in the dark—a SF novel by the mainstream French/Lithuanian novelist/screenwriter Romain Gary, the author of White Dog (1970)..

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts + comments.

1. The Committed Men, M. John Harrison (1971)

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(Chris Yates’ cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLIII (Two themed anthologies: Election Day 2084 and TV: 2000 + Harrison + Gary)

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

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(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)