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]
[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)
(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1985 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXI (Cowper + Aldiss + McKenna + New Worlds Anthology)
(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)
(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)
Snatched all but one of these up at a 1$ SF hardback clearance sale at my local bookstore. The other, Watson’s The Jonah Kit (1976) came via The Dawn Treader Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI.
I am not usually interested in Galactic Empires but the collection seems to have some intriguing short authors—for example, Lafferty, Davidson, Shaara, etc whose works I have no been that exposed to. I look forward to slowly working my way through both volumes.
I also acquired my first Robert Holdstock novel, Where Time Winds Blow (1981). Seems intriguing.
My schedule has finally calmed down a little so expect a slew of book reviews in the coming days/weeks…
1. Galactic Empires, Volume I, ed. Brian Aldiss (1976)
(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVII (Anthology: Galactic Empires, vol 1 and 2 + Holdstock + Watson)
One of the better groups of acquisitions in a while! After Katherine MacLean’s masterpiece Missing Man (1975) I was very excited to come across a collection of her late 40s and 50s short stories. Unfortunately, my edition — from 1973— had such an awful cover that I couldn’t put in on this post. Instead, I put the first edition cover by Paul Lehr which is simply gorgeous….
Ballard collections are always welcome! I have all of his short works in a single volume but the Powers cover is top-notch.
One of Ian Watson’s most famous novels…
And an unknown work by Brian Aldiss, Enemies of the System (1978)… Has anyone read it? I suspect it will be the weakest book of the bunch.
1. The Diploids, Katherine MacLean (1962)
(Uncredited — but looks like Lehr — cover for the 1962 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCI (Ballard + MacLean + Aldiss + Watson)
Everyone likes lists! And I do too…. This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year. Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.
Top Ten Novels
1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).
2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel. Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….
3. Level 7, Mordecai Roshwald (1959): A strange satire of the bomb shelter… Everyday surrealism. Continue reading Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)
(Uncredited cover for the 1961 edition of Earth Abides (1949), George R. Stewart)
Note: if anyone can identify the artist for the first three downright spectacular covers I’d be very very happy. I’m positive that they match stylistically (the vague human shape, the cityscape, the brush strokes, the textures). Two of the three covers were made for Signet press and all three are from the early 1960s. I suspect if I perused the covers from the Signet catalogue from that era I’d find even more…. Perhaps it’s the work of Sanford Kossin? He was producing covers for Signet around the same time.
And now The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Vaguely Defined Looming Man Shape