Tag Archives: book reviews

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Roberts + Cherryh + Blish + Knight + Pangborn)

Finally, a famous (“Joachim Boaz you will adore it”) fix-up novel by Keith Roberts enters my collection….

Overpopulation SF never gets old—even if I have low expectations about this one.

More Pangborn and a singleton Cherryh novel I had never heard of….

Thoughts?

1. A Torrent of Faces, James Blish & Norman L. Knight (1967)

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(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Roberts + Cherryh + Blish + Knight + Pangborn)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Malzberg + Silverberg + Biggle, Jr. + Zelazny)

One of Robert Silverberg’s most famous 70s novels…

Barry N. Malzberg’s first published novel (more speculative fiction than SF)…

Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s best known novel…

And Roger Zelazny’s first published collection of SF shorts…

And some great covers!

1. The Book of Skulls, Robert Silverberg (1971)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVII (Malzberg + Silverberg + Biggle, Jr. + Zelazny)

Book Review: Starswarm, Brian W. Aldiss (1964)

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(William Hofmann’s cover for the 1964 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

Filth.  Decay.  Mud.  Transmutation.  Brian W. Aldiss’ SF is filled with such images:  Men—with limbs removed—who are slowly (and artificially) transmuted into fish, writhe around in the mud of their tanks grasping at the last shards of their humanity;  A powerful matriarch lords over a planet where her pets transform at will;  A tall tale about a planet filled with strange life and a human hero who cannot get over the fact that everything smells like garbage…. Aldiss’ novel The Dark Light-Years (1964), despite its poor delivery, is the best example of these themes—humans encounter sentient aliens who spend their days copulating, laying around, and eating in their own fifth.  And they are happy with their lot.

Starswarm (1964) is comprised of three novelettes and five short stories with conjoining explanatory material that links the previously published short fiction into a cohesive collection.  The modus operandi of such a conjoining concerns the “Theory of Multigrade Superannuation” where “the universe is similar to the cosmic clock; the civilizations of man are not mere cogs but infinitely smaller clocks, ticking in their own right” (7).  Thus, the inhabited solar systems of Starswarm—our galaxy—will exhibit all the characteristics through which a civilization can Continue reading Book Review: Starswarm, Brian W. Aldiss (1964)

Guest Post: Margaret and I, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

 The fifth in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Max Cairnduff (twitter)—who reviews literature and occasionally SF over at Pechorin’s Journal.  In the past he has contributed to my Michael Bishop series. He is responsible for introducing me to one of my favorite works of all time, Anna Kavan’s phenomenal hallucination of a novel Ice (1967)—so check out his site.

Although he does not seem to have enjoyed Margaret and I (1971) as much as I did, his review does touch on the novel’s extreme psychological power and ingenious set-up.

Thank you so much for contributing!

~

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(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition)

Nominated for the 1972 Nebula Award for Best Novel

The only Kate Wilhelm I’d read before Joachim invited me to take part in this Guest Post series was her novel Welcome, Chaos. I’ve not even read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (though I always thought I had, which ironically is probably what stopped me reading it).

Beyond those two titles I knew very little about her work. Joachim though knows his vintage SF, so when he invited me Continue reading Guest Post: Margaret and I, Kate Wilhelm (1971)

Guest Post: Welcome, Chaos, Kate Wilhelm (1983)

The fourth in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Megan (twitter)—who blogs on both vintage classics and lesser known work to the recent BSFA-nominated SF novels at From Couch to Moon.  This is her second contribution to one of my guest post series and is definitely worth the read.  Her first guest post review was for my Michael Bishop series: check it out!  Thanks Megan!

~

WLCMCHSMKZ1983

(Jane Mackenzie’s cover for the 1983 edition)

Two parts mainstream Cold War espionage thriller to one part bio-social science fiction, Welcome, Chaos is a departure from Wilhelm’s reflective, elegiac vision of seven years prior: the captivating, multiple award-winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1976). In many ways common with one another, both novels contain themes of pre- to post-apocalypse, survival via artificial biological advancements, ethics of scientific Continue reading Guest Post: Welcome, Chaos, Kate Wilhelm (1983)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Lessing, Silverberg, Sheckley, Dickson)

I have yet to read anything by the Nobel Prize for Literature-winning author Doris Lessing…  And she wrote numerous SF novels—I’m very excited that I found one in a clearance section for 2$.  I also found one of the very few 1970s works by Silverberg not in my collection.  Dickson’s supposedly most mature novel (which I doubt is very good) also joins my collection.  So far the only Dickson I can tolerate are a handful of his short stories. And finally, my last acquisition is one of Robert Sheckley’s best-loved novels.

Thoughts?

1. The Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing (1974)

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(Brad Holland’s cover for the 1988 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Lessing, Silverberg, Sheckley, Dickson)

Book Review: Bettyann, Kris Neville (1970)

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(W. Thut’s cover for the 1970 edition)

4/5 (Good)

So the Amio were deficient, from the very beginning, and were born weaklings, untested, and had gone their own solitary way. […] [Bettyann] would reinfuse in them the vitality that their own development had ultimately denied them and contravene the defeat that was foreshadowed in the limited dreams and ambitions of their father’s father’s father’s father’s father, backward to the time when myth told little that one might truly believe, except that the Amio were always, from the beginning, one” (78).

Since the beginning of the year MPorcius, who presides over MPorcius’ Fiction Log, has reviewed a handful of Kris Neville’s short stories (here and here).  Because the name was on my mind and I had not read any of his work in the past, I eagerly picked up a copy of his fix-up novel Bettyann (1970)— which contains contains two previously published stories “Bettyann” (1951), which appeared in New Tales of Space and Time, and “Ouverture” (1954) which appeared in 9 Tales of Space and Time, both edited by Raymond J. Healey.  The novel is hard to find as it was only published by Tower Books.

Neville is praised by Barry N. Malzberg as an author, if he had not abandoned the field for the sciences, who could have been among the “ten most honored science fiction writers of his generation” (Malzburg’s intro to Neville’s “Ballenger’s People” in the 1979 Doubleday collection Neglected Visions). Continue reading Book Review: Bettyann, Kris Neville (1970)