Tag Archives: British

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)

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)

Updates: 2014 in Review (Top 10 SF novels + Top 10 Short SF works + Other Categories)

I like lists!  I like reading lists!  Here’s my rundown of the best and worst of what I read in 2014.

This year I have tried something new—my first guest post series. My ten post Michael Bishop review series—reviews written by SF bloggers interested in classic SF and frequent readers of my site—hopefully introduced a lot of my frequent readers to one of my favorite (and criminally underrated) authors.  My second post series did not transpire solely on my site but stretched to others—what Gollancz Masterworks should include…  Thanks for all the wonderful contributions!

Feel free to list your best reads of the year.  Maybe I’ll add a few of them to my to read/to acquire list.

…and, if you tend to agree with at least some of my views on SF, read these!

  

Best SF novel

1. Ice, Anna Kavan (1967):  Easily the best novel I have read this year, Kavan weaves a Kafka-esque landscape will touches of J. G. Ballard.  Ice, caused by some manmade disaster, is slowly creeping over the world.  The unnamed narrator is torn between two forces: returning to his earlier research on jungle dwelling singing lemurs in the southern regions vs. tracking down a young woman about whom he has Continue reading Updates: 2014 in Review (Top 10 SF novels + Top 10 Short SF works + Other Categories)

Book Review: Billenium, J. G. Ballard (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

4.25/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

Billenium (1962), J. G. Ballard’s first collection of short stories, contains three masterpieces of the 50s/60s: “Billenium” (1961), “Build-Up” (variant title: The Concentration City) (1957), and “Chronopolis” (1960).  The first is a deadpan satire on overpopulation, the second a fantastic Borgesian depiction of an endless city that stretches (literally) in all directions, and the third a vision of a city that had enough and revolted against time.  I preferred these three ruminations, that unfolded in evocative and decaying urban spaces, to the three decadent and baroque stories—“Studio 5, The Stars” (1961), “Mobile” (variant title: “Venus Smiles”) (1957), and “Prima Belladonna” (1956)—from his famous Vermillion Sands sequence.  The remaining four are all readable.

As with J. G. Ballard’s first novel masterpiece, The Drowned World (1962), the sense of decay and malaise that permeate majority of the stories in Billenium is gorgeously Continue reading Book Review: Billenium, J. G. Ballard (1962)

Updates: Immortality Themed SF Novels/Short Stories Resource Posted

  

I while back I put out a call for SF novels/short works on immortality to add to a preliminary list I put together.  Due to my lack of knowledge of newer SF and uncanny ability to forget relevant previously read works I eagerly added your suggestions.  And Marta Randall’s Islands (1976) motivated me to finally post  it…

Here’s the LIST!

If you can think of any that I might be missing be sure to Continue reading Updates: Immortality Themed SF Novels/Short Stories Resource Posted

Book Review: Double, Double, John Brunner (1969)

(Murray Tinkleman’s cover for the 1979 edition)

2/5 (Bad)

John Brunner has long been one of my favorite SF authors and it almost pains me to review dismal disasters like Double, Double (1969).  I find it mind-boggling that an author who produced the otherworldly Stand on Zanzibar (1968) can turn around and release Double, Double the very next year.  Yes, yes I know, even brilliant SF authors such as Robert Silverberg churned out a vast and bizarre variety of sex/smut books to make ends meet (and buy a mansion) under such names as L.T. Woodward MD (Virgin Wives, Sex in our Schools, etc) and Don Elliot (Cousin Lover, Gang Girl, Gay Girl, The Instructor, etc) so I really should not complain….

Double, Double contains the most rudimentary clichéd premise and a plot used in countless 50s B-movies.  At moments it feels like Brunner wanted to transform the plot into a vehicle for social commentary.  However, at these crucial junctures where Brunner could have used his profusion of strange disparate characters gathered together in the English countryside to comment on the state of English society Continue reading Book Review: Double, Double, John Brunner (1969)

Updates: Year in Review (Top Ten SF Novels + Top Ten Short Stories/Novelettes/Novellas + other categories)

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)