Tag Archives: book reviews

Book Review: The Custodians and Other Stories, Richard Cowper (1976)

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(Geoff Taylor’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)

The Custodians and Other Stories contains Richard Cowper’s most famous short SF (both received Nebula nods): “The Custodians” (1975) and “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1976), later published side-by-side with his Nebula-nominated novel in the same sequence The Road to Corlay (1978).

My limited exposure to Cowper’s work so far—i.e. the hilarious post-apocalyptical black comedy on the British class system replete with intelligent dolphins and giant submarines,  Profundis (1979)—suggests an author who  can weave a solid story in a range of SF sub-genres from time travel Continue reading Book Review: The Custodians and Other Stories, Richard Cowper (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXI (Cowper + Aldiss + McKenna + New Worlds Anthology)

While in Scotland a few weeks ago I could not help but peek into a few used book stores! As an American, I am intimately acquainted with the common US publishers (Ballantine + Signet + Avon + et al) but do not own very many 70s/80s UK editions (Pan + Grenada + Panther, etc).  Thus, there was something special about snatching a copy of Best SF Stories from New Worlds 8  (1974) as it was one of the few in the series never published in the US…

Enjoy the cover art!

[I am not sure what to make of the Jim Burns’ cover…  I have the feeling that it appeared on Good Show Sir a while back]

Thoughts?

[If you are in Edinburgh and want new SF/F stop by Transreal Fiction—and talk to the owner Mike!]

1. The Moment of Eclipse, Brian W. Aldiss (1970)

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(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1985 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXI (Cowper + Aldiss + McKenna + New Worlds Anthology)

Book Review: Out of Bounds, Judith Merril (1960)

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(Art Sussman’s cover for the 1960 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)

I have long been a fan of both Judith Merril’s fiction and edited volumes.   The eponymous novella in the collection Daughters of Earth (1968) is one of more delightful visions from the 1950s I have encountered. Merril reframes biblical patrilineal genealogy as matrilineal–i.e. humankind’s conquest of space is traced via the female descendants of an august progenitor.  The story is brilliant in part due to a remarkable metafictional twist, the story itself is compiled from historical documents to serve as an instructional template for future generations of women.  Despite substantial editorial control that forced Merril to include a rather hokey plot on two hokey planets, the story remains memorable for the well crafted feminist Continue reading Book Review: Out of Bounds, Judith Merril (1960)

A question for my fellow SF fans: Which SF writer without a single author collection published within the last 10 years should receive a reprint?

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On twitter [my account here — please follow!  I post interesting things!] I posed the following question:

Which SF author—for the purposes of this site’s focus, an author starting pre-1980—deserves a new (or reprint) single author collection?

GUIDELINES (please read): Said author cannot have a single author collection published within the last 10 years (you can fudge this a bit).   It also should be noted that many eBooks aren’t available in the United States (SF Gateway for example).  If the recent eBook edition isn’t available in the US, I guess the author fits the bill (*cough* — John Sladek).

XNGNSS4D1969Note: If you are thinking about doing some checking before you make your choice (see guidelines) I recommend using isfdb.org as it has mostly up to date publication histories for all but self-published authors.

My vote: Miriam Allen deFord (active from — SF Encyclopedia LINK

Published collections: Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971)

Reason: Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975) was one of the major voices in SF magazines from 1946 – 1978.   She never made the transition to novels and thus might have lost some readership as a result.  The stories in Xenogenesis (1969) shows an often radical voice right from her first story in 1946.  Although they might not be as polished as some of her more Continue reading A question for my fellow SF fans: Which SF writer without a single author collection published within the last 10 years should receive a reprint?

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXX (Anthologies 2x + Bishop + Green)

I’m continuing my anthology kick (my review of one of them is already up)—a fascinating way to explore the work of lesser known authors who might have produced some quality SF but never had solo collections or novels published.  Also, an unknown quantity in Joseph Green…  Has anyone read his work?  I do think that the Josh Kirby cover is quite evocative although the premise seems ridiculously silly.

Joachim Boaz trembles with excitement as he picked up another work by one of my all time favorite SF authors, Michael Bishop!  If only I could convince myself to finally review Catacomb Years (1979) which was downright fantastic…

Thoughts?

1. The Mind Behind the Eye (variant title: Gold the Man), Joseph Green (1972)

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(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXX (Anthologies 2x + Bishop + Green)

Book Review: Orbit 1 (James Blish, Sonya Dorman, Kate Wilhelm, Thomas M. Disch, Richard McKenna, Poul Anderson, Allison Rice, Keith Roberts, Virginia Kidd), ed. Damon Knight (1966)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

Damon Knight’s Orbit anthology series ran from 1966-1976.  A while back I reviewed Orbit 8 (1970)–which contained the brilliant Gardner Dozois “Horse of Air” (1970 and a selection of intriguing Wolfe and Lafferty short stories—and was impressed enough to snatch up a copy of Orbit 1 (1966).  And it is graced with a Richard Powers cover I had not seen…

Orbit 1 contains nine short works (with four by women authors) and maintains solid quality throughout.  None of the stories—other than Sonya Dorman’s dark and terrifying “Slice of Life”—are masterpieces but Keith Roberts, Kate Wilhelm, Richard McKenna, James Blish, and Thomas M. Disch Continue reading Book Review: Orbit 1 (James Blish, Sonya Dorman, Kate Wilhelm, Thomas M. Disch, Richard McKenna, Poul Anderson, Allison Rice, Keith Roberts, Virginia Kidd), ed. Damon Knight (1966)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIX (Platt + Smith + Anthologies)

I bought these a while back with Admiral Ironbombs at Battered, Tattered,  Yellowed, and Creased at the best used SF store I’ve encountered in the United States—Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI (if you are ever in Michigan it’s worth the trip).  I’m glad I don’t live there else I would have no money.  I also discovered that Admiral Ironbombs doesn’t actually buy books that are battered and tattered—I do.  I guess he’s more of a “collector” than me.  Haha.

Enjoy some nice covers!

Has anyone read the work of Evelyn E. Smith?

Thoughts?

1. Best SF: 1970, ed. Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss (1971)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIX (Platt + Smith + Anthologies)