Tag Archives: British

Book Review: The Eye of the Lens, Langdon Jones (1972)

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(Richard Jones’ cover for the 1972 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good) (*see note below)

Langdon Jones is best known for his involvement in New Worlds Magazine: he contributed stories (published 16 in various New Worlds venues), cover art, and edited the April-July 1969 issues.  One of his stories, “To Have and To Hold,” was slated to appear in the never published Last Dangerous Visions, and languishes unread and unknown.  Why Ellison doesn’t relinquish control of the copyright is beyond me…  Sadly, Jones’ output had all but dried up by 1969.  If anyone knows why, please let me know.

Three of the seven stories in the collection—“The Hall of Machines” (1968), “The Coming of the Sun” (1968), and “The Eye of the Lens” (1968)—form a loose triptych (the religious connotations of the term is purposeful).

*NOTE: Recommended only for fans of the most radical New Wave SF that graced the pages of New Worlds magazine.  Experimental, allegorical, and occasionally Borgesian, all the stories revolve around our perception of time and memory.  Even in the collection’s weakest moments—the Continue reading Book Review: The Eye of the Lens, Langdon Jones (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLIII (Two themed anthologies: Election Day 2084 and TV: 2000 + Harrison + Gary)

Two themed anthologies—one in “honor” of the election [*cough* I mean, well, I won’t go all political] year cycle…  Another on one of my favorite SF themes, television of the future!

That said, both Asimov edited collections (from the 80s but with stories from only earlier decades) have a serious fault: out of the combined 35 stories there is not a single story by a woman author.  I’ve read a vast number of 60s/70s collections which do not fall into this trap…. Orbit 1 (1966) almost manages gender parity!  I can think of numerous stories by women authors that fit both themes.  For example, Kit Reed’s wonderful “At Central” (1967) fits the TV anthology!

A hard to find for cheap early M. John Harrison novel…. Unfortunately I only found a much uglier edition that the one I show below as the rest were out of my price range….

And, a complete shot in the dark—a SF novel by the mainstream French/Lithuanian novelist/screenwriter Romain Gary, the author of White Dog (1970)..

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts + comments.

1. The Committed Men, M. John Harrison (1971)

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(Chris Yates’ cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLIII (Two themed anthologies: Election Day 2084 and TV: 2000 + Harrison + Gary)

Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

[The second of four review catch up posts.  The first — > here]

1. Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1979 edition)

5/5 (collated rating: Masterpiece)

Michael Bishop’s Catacomb Years (1979) takes the form of a complex and multi-layered future history of a single city, the Urban Nucleus of Atlanta, Georgia—entombed/reborn under a vast dome where even the sky is obscured.  Over the course of seven short SF works linked by recurring characters (and character references), theme, and chronology Bishop weaves one of the more spectacular future history canvases.  This is a future history of a profoundly human scope focusing on transformative junctures in the life of the city from the point of view of a range of the inhabitants—from the old to the young, from technicians to recluses obsessed with bonsai, from teachers to human caregivers of the alien visitors…  And most intriguing is Bishop’s willingness to Continue reading Short SF Book Reviews: Michaelmas, Algis Budrys (1976), The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975), and Catacomb Years, Michael Bishop (1979)

Book Review: Interface, Mark Adlard (1971)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1977 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

“Stahlex! Stahlex!

I want it thick!

I want it quick!

I want something that’ll do the trick!

Use Stahlex! Use Stahlex!

A benevo-o-olent monopo-o-oly” (160).

Mark Adlard’s SF output consisted primarily of the Tcity trilogy: Interface (1971), Volteface (1972), and Multiface (1975).  The domed (and doomed) city is a powerful scenario to explore a cornucopia of future social issues such as conformity, Continue reading Book Review: Interface, Mark Adlard (1971)

Book Review: An Infinite Summer, Christopher Priest (1979)

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(Don Puchatz’s cover for the 1981 edition)

4.75/5 (collated rating: Very Good)

With Christopher Priest’s second short story collection, An Infinite Summer (1979), he enters the pantheon of my favorite SF authors.  The thing is, I knew he would all along once I moved past the sour taste of his first novel Indoctrinaire (1970) and finally picked up one of his later endeavors.

Priest’s fiction appeals to my sensibilities: he is the consummate wordsmith; his worlds (especially the stories in the loose sequence of the Dream Archipelago) are evocative; the stories drip with a certain nostalgic longing and/or are populated with characters who cannot escape their memories; metafictional experimentation (a novel within a story, a novel that Priest himself would go on to write–perhaps with a different plot!) is rooted to the aims of each story (you cannot separate the two without Continue reading Book Review: An Infinite Summer, Christopher Priest (1979)

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)