Tag Archives: book reviews

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIV (Mann + Moorcock + Farmer + Adlard)

I bought and am in the process of reading a novel from the 90s… Look below to find out which one! (SHOCKING).

Also, more in line with my common (recent) reading patterns, a lesser known but supposedly brilliant 70s novel, Interface (1971) by Mark Adelard.  According to SF Encyclopedia: “The series is set in a city of the Near Future.[…] With a rich but sometimes sour irony, and a real if distanced sympathy for the problems and frustrations of both management and workers, Adlard plays a set of variations, often comic, on Automation, hierarchical systems, the Media Landscape, revolution, the difficulties of coping with Leisure, class distinction according to Intelligence, fantasies of Sex and the stultifying pressures of conformity.”  The banal back cover description indicates a rather lesser novel than Clute’s praise…

More Philip José Farmer—early work, early work only!

And, well, I’ve never Moorcock’s SF/F but, perhaps my first collection of his short fiction will indicate what people claim he is capable of.

All but the last novel came via Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings on his book store trip…. Thanks again!

Thoughts?

1. Interface, Mark Adlard (1971)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIV (Mann + Moorcock + Farmer + Adlard)

Book Review: Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)

(Gene Szafran’s atrocious cover for the 1974 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“The men heard, and they rejoiced to find an enemy they could conquer at last.  One night, as planned, they pulled all the women from sleep, herded them together, and harangued them, saying, remember, you caused the Wasting” (3).

Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) is the first of four novels in The Holdfast Chronicles sequence (1974-1999) that charts the slow forces of change in a post-apocalyptical future where women (“fems”) are chattel.  Kate Macdonald, in her wonderful review of Ammonite (1993) characterized Nicola Griffith’s novel as “instantly […] feminist: not stealth, or muted, or sub-conscious.”  Walk to the End of the World falls squarely, and powerfully into this category.  Told with intensity and vigor, Charnas brands the reader with her vision, a searing and festering landscape where white men have either exterminated the remaining “unmen” (the “Dirties”) or subjugated them (the “fems”) after a manmade cataclysm.  Complex societal institutions maintain control Continue reading Book Review: Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)

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)