Tag Archives: book reviews

Book Review: Best SF Stories from New Worlds 3, ed. Michael Moorcock (1968)

(Uncredited cover for the 1968 edition)

3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)

New Worlds was one of the premier British SF magazines under the editorship of Michael Moorcock.  It features some of the most experimental works of the era and was important in the growth of the New Wave movement.  Many of the frequent contributors went on to make a name as premier SF authors (Ballard, Aldiss, etc).

This particular best of collection (1964-1967) is on the whole uneven.  Its big name authors—such as Keith Roberts and Moorcock himself under a pseudonym—disappoint.  The most evocative stories are by rather lesser known voices, Langdon Jones, Charles Platt, and Pamela Zoline.  Zoline’s brilliant entropic vision, “The Heat Death of the Universe” is not to be missed.  The second best work in the collection is (surprisingly) an early story by Barrington J. Bayley (as P. F. Woods) whose novels I have reviewed Continue reading Book Review: Best SF Stories from New Worlds 3, ed. Michael Moorcock (1968)

Updates: Recent Science Acquisitions No. XXVII (Vance + Neville + Fairbairns + Coney)

A fascinating collection (one of three acquisition posts incoming) via Dunaway’s Books in St. Louis, MO (on one of my numerous perambulations…).  And there were nearly one hundred more novels I would have snatched up if I had unlimited funds and unlimited room.

A hard to find feminist SF novel, and supposedly quite solid, by Zoe Fairbairns.

A Michael Coney novel I’ve been dying to get my hands on—the immortality concept delightfully satirical/hilarious.

A strange 70s fix-up novel of 50s material by an author championed by Barry N. Malzberg (and John Clute)—Kris Neville.

And Vance, one rarely goes wrong with Vance…

Thoughts?

1. Friends Come in Boxes, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(John Holmes’ cover for the 1973 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Acquisitions No. XXVII (Vance + Neville + Fairbairns + Coney)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Asimov + Farmer + Gotlieb + Morressy)

It has been so long since I have read Asimov…  Currents of Space (1952)—or Bradbury’s 1953 masterpiece Fahrenheit 451)—was the very first SF novel I ever read.  And I did not enjoy it.  In my later teens I read quite a few of Asimov’s works including the average The Gods Themselves (1972) in a Hugo-winning novel marathon that really got me into SF.  He has never blown me away.  But, I have a soft spot for the robot stories!

Gotlieb’s novel has simply the worst back cover blurb ever.  Suspicious.

I do like Philip José Farmer stories although I wish the inside blurb would not give away the entire plot of two of the seven stories.  I have never read the original “Riverworld” (1966) short story—perhaps it’s much better than the later novel version.

Thoughts?

1.  Eight Stories from The Rest of the Robots, Isaac Asimov (1966)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1969 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Asimov + Farmer + Gotlieb + Morressy)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXV (Pangborn + Janifer + Anthology + Biggle, Jr.)

A very odd selection today…  Some Christmas gift card holdovers and one volume I purchased online.  Including Edgar Pangborn’s most famous novel, a bizarre anthology of future artistic visions (with stories by Ellison, Clarke, Effinger, Zelazny, Dickson, Kornbluth, et al.), a collection of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s SF stories on music, and a most likely horrible pulp slave planet rebellion type novel by Laurence M. Janifer.

Thoughts?

1. Davy, Edgar Pangborn (1964)

(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1965 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXV (Pangborn + Janifer + Anthology + Biggle, Jr.)

Book Review: Ice, Anna Kavan (1967)

Ice

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1967 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“Despairingly she looked all around. She was completely encircled by the tremendous ice walls, which were made fluid by explosions of blinding light, so that they moved and changed with a continuous liquid motion, advancing in torrents of ice, avalanches as bid as oceans, flooding everywhere over the doomed world” (37)

Anna Kavan’s masterful post-apocalyptical novel Ice (1967) parallels the death throws of a relationship with the disintegration of the world.  As the unnamed narrator (N) and the girl (G) traverse an indistinct, interchangeable, world transformed by glacial encroachment, only the same movements are possible: flight, pursuit, flight, pursuit…  Repetition reinforces the profoundly unnerving feel of both physical and mental imprisonment: as movements are predicted, trauma is repeated.

Kavan described her own writings as “‘nocturnal, where dreams and reality merge” (Booth, 69).  In the Continue reading Book Review: Ice, Anna Kavan (1967)

Update: My short article on the topic of “All About the Backlist” for SF Signal’s Mind Meld

I was kindly asked by Andrea over at The Little Red Reviewer to submit an article for SF Signal’s Mind Meld feature (she is also one of their editors).  Along with a cross section of other bloggers/authors and the like, I discussed the range and variety an author’s less famous backlist might have and how it can be a minefield of unrealized potential and financial obligations (think of what John Brunner was writing in the same year as Stand on Zanzibar!).  I wrote about Barry N. Malzberg [original link here]—I am the last contributor.

For those who do not visit SF Signal I have decided to put it on my site as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

~~~

Tim White’s cover for the 1979 edition

Backlists can be unnerving places. Like the vibrations of residual sounds that gather across the urban landscape in Ballard’s “The Sound-Sweep” (1960), the lists themselves resonate both discordant and dulcet—a deluge of aborted passions, financial desires, experimental tendencies not yet crystalline. Although Clifford D. Simak might produce a Cosmic Engineers (1950), he also invoked a most extraordinary allegorical worldscape in Why Call Them Back from Heaven? (1967) where the promise of immortality (undelivered) causes irrevocable transformations—the living live through life without living waiting for a resurrection where they can finally live. Robert Silverberg might shift entirely, as if on whim, from old-fashioned SF adventure where young Heinlein-esque space boys look for those “cool artifacts that do great things” in Across a Billion Years (1969) to The Man in the Maze (1969), a restless and uneasy rumination on pariahism and filled with delusions of self-martyrdom and all those other uncomfortable emotions we try so Continue reading Update: My short article on the topic of “All About the Backlist” for SF Signal’s Mind Meld

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Wolfe + Clement + Mann + Wylie)

A nice batch of used book store finds.  Including the best of surprises i.e. when a clearance $1 SF novel by a rather famous author turns out to be signed!  I only realized it when I sat down to type up this post.

I have officially delved into the 80s—2theD at SF Potpourri included this novel in his “should be picked up by Gollancz Masterworks” list so I grabbed a hardback copy.

And some early Gene Wolfe….

And a what if women disappeared from the world novel by the author of When Worlds Collide (1933)…

Thoughts on any of the novels?

1.  The Fifth Head of Cerebrus, Gene Wolfe (1972)

(Martin Rigo’s cover for the 1981 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIV (Wolfe + Clement + Mann + Wylie)