Tag Archives: British

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

(František Muzika, Z Českého ráje V (Ležící torzo), 1944)

František Muzika (1900-1976), a key member of the Czech New Wave scene, created haunting paintings that blended human form with the surrounding landscapes. His painting that heads this post inspired me to collect various science fiction covers (from a mix of English and non-English language presses) that showcase the interlacing of human and landscape — the body (or body parts) as landscape. There are many many many more covers on this theme and perhaps I’ll gather them for a later post. I am torn over my favorite! Leigh Taylor’s cover for the 1967 edition of J.G. Ballard’s The Disaster Area (1967) Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

Book Review: The Birth Machine, Elizabeth Baines (1983)

(Hannah Firmin’s cover for the 1983 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

“Ladies and Gentleman: The age of the machine” (11).

I continue my loose sequence of reviews on medical science fiction with Elizabeth Baines’ evocative fable The Birth Machine (1983) (see notes). Pushing against notions that pregnancy is “medical: illness” (51), the narrative follows a nightmarish tact as an unsuspecting woman is linked up to a nebulously described machine and drugged. Beset by dehumanizing (and often patriarchal) forces, Zelda, without the help of others, comes to terms Continue reading Book Review: The Birth Machine, Elizabeth Baines (1983)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three early David Pelham covers in honor of his birthday

(Cover for the 1971 edition of Fifth Planet (1963), Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle)

On twitter I occasionally post the birthdays of important figures in SF history (artists, authors, and editors). Every morning I scan The Internet Speculative Fiction Database’s birthday list on their main page and lo and behold a name immediately popped out for May 12th–the iconic 70s SF artist David Pelham (1938-present).  Enough has been written about his distinctive and surreal covers for Penguin that I won’t go into detail here. Instead I’ve included a few links if you wish to learn more below.

I invite my readers to link in the comments their favorite articles and tidbits about David Pelham and I’ll include any links I receive in my list as well.

I’ve chosen to include in this post his first three SF covers, which happen to be stylistically and thematically similar. Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Three early David Pelham covers in honor of his birthday

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVII (Piercy + Gotschalk + Bax + anthology edited by Haldeman)

1) Futuristic city? Yes! Is more needed? Okay, okay, I concede, more is needed. I hope Gotschalk’s novel with its fantastic Dean Ellis cover delivers. Among the least known of the Ace Science Fiction Special series…

Check out my older reviews of J. G. Ballard’s “Billennium” (1961)Future City, ed. Roger Elwood (1973), and The World Inside, Robert Silverberg (1971) for more SF on this theme of futuristic cities. If you delve through the archives you’ll find many more examples.

2) Ballard blurbs Martin Bax’s novel as “…the most exciting, stimulating and brilliantly conceived book I have read since Burroughs’ novels.” Hyperbole aside, the two reviews (here and here) I’ve read of Bax’s sole novel puts this at the top of my “to read” pile.

I have cheated a bit by including the cover for the first New Directions edition rather than the later Picador edition I own due to the cover quality.

3) Three acquisitions posts ago (here) I mentioned that the premise of Marge Piercy’s Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970) did not inspire me to read it anytime soon. Thankfully I found a copy of what many consider her masterpiece Woman at the Edge of Time (1976) cheap at the local used book store.

4) I am not sure why I picked this collection up—I’ve heard good things about Joe Haldeman’s introduction which draws on his experience in the Vietnam War. As Isaac Asimov, Mack Reynolds, etc are not normally authors who intrigue me, I might do something I rarely do and read and review Effinger’s story only (and maybe Poul Anderson’s as he’s better in short form)…

As always thoughts and comments are welcome.

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1. Growing up in Tier 3000, Felix C. Gotschalk (1976)

(Dean Ellis’ gorgeous cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVII (Piercy + Gotschalk + Bax + anthology edited by Haldeman)

Book Review: New Writings in SF 9, ed. John Carnell (1972) (Harrison + Coney + Sellings + King + et al.)

nwwrsnsf651972

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1972 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

An imaginary question I received: “Why do you read anthologies cover to cover?” I love discovering new authors and those I was aware existed but haven’t read—with New Writings in SF 9 (1972) the following fall into this bipartite category: Joseph Green, Paul Corey, Arthur Sellings, Vincent King, R. W. Mackelworth, and Eddy C. Bertin.

Of the bunch, I will probably only remember Vincent King’s vision of the angst as the exploration of the entire galaxy nears completion… Both authors whom I know far better produce the best of the collection.  Michael G. Coney’s haunting tale of evolutionary dependency and M. John Harrison account of paranoia and guilt over the massacre of mysterious aliens are worth the read. Too bad the three above were never anthologized outside of John Carnell’s New Writings series!

Overall New Writings in SF 9 is superior to New Writings in SF 4 (1965) but probably only satisfying for Coney and Harrison completists….

Note: this title refers to the 1972 US publication which was a best of earlier volumes. Another volume by the same name was published in 1966 in the Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in SF 9, ed. John Carnell (1972) (Harrison + Coney + Sellings + King + et al.)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIII (Priest + Davidson + Scott + Tate)

1) Barry N. Malzberg’s back cover blurb for Jody Scott’s 1977 novel suggests a worthwhile, or at least intriguing (and satirical), read: “What Paganini did to four strings and three-and-a-half octaves, Jody Scott does for our dear, undead genre.”

My first The Women’s Press edition!

2) My Christopher Priest collection nears completion. Has anyone read his early novel Fugue for A Darkening Island (1972)? Although I adore the short fiction and novels of his I’ve read so far, this premise has the potential to be deeply problematic (racist, etc). That said, I discovered my copy is signed! Purchased it for $4 with shipping off of Abebooks — it’s a $50+ book with signature.

christopher priest_Page_2.jpg

For more on his work: The Affirmation (1981), Real-Time World (1974), An Infinite Summer (1979), and Indoctrinaire (1970).

3) A collection of Avram Davidson stories. The title story “Or All the Seas with Oysters” won the 1958 Hugo for Best Short Story. The two works of his I’ve read so far disappointed: The Enemy of My Enemy (1966) and “Rife of Spring” (1970).

4) Peter Tate’s stories mostly appeared in various New Worlds publications. Although hailing from the UK, his novels were almost entirely published by Doubleday Press in the US. In the past I read “The Post-Mortem People” (1966) and found it a functional New Wave experiment. As is my wont, I tracked down a collection of his short fictions.

As on all posts, thoughts and comments are welcome!

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1. Passing for Human, Jody Scott (1977)

new books scott, davidson, tate_Page_2.jpg

(Miss Moss’ cover for the 1986 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIII (Priest + Davidson + Scott + Tate)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

1) I made a “resolution” to read more John Sladek — miserable covers aside. Now what is that spaceman doing standing next the elephant? Although Sladek is rather on the surreal/comical end of things, Peter Goodfellow took the surreal title literally. Not his finest artistic moment. Now if only I could convince myself to put together my disperate thoughts on The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) into something cohesive.

2) Although New Worlds editor supreme” Michael Moorcock’s novels haven’t not received the warmest reception on my site, I am determined to get a better sense of his fiction by exploring his short work. And this collection seems fantastic! It’s illustrated, there’s a comic strip (image below), and the Savoy Books publication includes tons of fascinating blurbs about other books both speculative and non-genre.

See my reviews of An Alien Heat (1972) and The Ice Schooner (1969).

The title page of the Jerry Cornelius comic.

jerry-cornelius-comic

3) A lesser known James White novel… Only printed in the UK.

James White is one of THE finds of the last few years. Best known for simple but earnest (and pacifistic) 50s stories about doctors solving alien medical problems, his novels demonstrate surprising power. A reader and frequent commentator (see I listen!) suggested I procure one of his late 70s novels unknown to me. I cannot wait to read it.

See my reviews of The Dream Millennium (1973), All Judgement Fled (1968), and The Watch Below (1966).

4) I recently discussed Emma Tennant’s work and how she was influenced by the UK SF scene (Ballard et al) here. Yes, I showed my inner academic by citing a few articles — many fans don’t realize that there’s serious and fascinating academic study of the genre. And, as literary historians are wont to do, they provide (often) relevant and erudite analysis of development of genre etc. I would pull more in if time allowed.  I am currently reading Tennant’s novel and it’s intriguing so far!

Scans are from my own collection (in order to zoom in on the zany madness, click on the image).

I look forward to your comments/thoughts!

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)