Fresh off of Langdon Jones’ wonderful New Wave collection The Eye of the Lens (1972) I decided to see if any of my unread anthologies contained his work—queue The Best SF Stories From New Worlds (1967). Unfortunately, Jones’ contribution is far from the best in this absolutely stellar collection.
This 1967 volume was the first in a series of eight Best Of New Worlds anthologies edited by Michael Moorcock between 1967-1974. I reviewed The Best SF Stories From New Worlds 3 (1968)—i.e. the one with Pamela Zoline’s must-read “The Heat Death of the Universe” (1967)—a while back.
(Cover for the 1965 edition of All Flesh is Grass (1965), Clifford D. Simak)
On twitter I like to highlight the birthdays of often lesser known SF artists and authors—and today is Emanuel Schongut’s birthday! The 1960s SF covers of Emanuel Schongut (b. 1935) demonstrate an eye for the simple form, the surrealist twist, the optical trick…. In 2012 I compiled a list of my favorite fifteen (as of then) SF covers [here]—although I suspect some of the list would change, his cover for the 1966 edition of Watchers of the Dark (1966) [below] by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. would retain its privileged place.
An eclectic range of books from my annual pilgrimage to Ann Arbor, MI. Unfortunately, the anthology series I was most excited about—Best of New Worlds and Orbit—were lacking from the shelves of Dawn Treader Books….
World’s Best Science Fiction: 1967 (1967) contains stories famous stories by Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny (2xs), R.A. Lafferty, Michael Moorcock, Frederick Pohl, Brian W. Aldiss, and lesser known stories by Dannie Plachta, Paul Ash, Bob Shaw, A. A. Walde….
Also, I also procured a 1967 Nebula-nominated novel by Hayden Howard, more Richard Holdstock, and a collection containing the famous short story “Beyond Bedlam” (1951). Over the next few weeks I’ll post the rest of my acquisitions.
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).
“Nature does not write haiku. Men write haiku. The world cannot end in chaos, with things running wild, with gangs running rampant, with cannibals, with dog eating dog and plague-deaths and the abominable mutations. O, I know it is so in some other countries, but we are Japanese. We are the children of the whale, who have committed the original sin of patricide… but we have pride, and we must die in beauty” (131).
Somtow Sucharitkul (S. P. Somtow after 1985) is a fascinating individual. He’s a Thai-American SFF author/composer who moved back and forth between Thailand and the UK (English was his first language and he received his education at the University of Cambridge). Perhaps best known for his Mallworld sequence of stories (1979-2000), Somtow’s output is immense and ranges from horror to mainstream fiction (in addition to numerous symphonies and operas).
His first novel Starship & Haiku (1981), which won the 1982 Locus Best First Novel Award, joins the ranks of a veritable subgenre of SF about whales and pseudo-whales—including (off the top of my head, there are bound to be more!): Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Ian Watson’s The Jonah Kit (1975), T. J. Bass’ The Godwhale (1974), Philip José Farmer’s The Wind Whales of Ishmael (1971), John Varley’s Gaean series (1979-1984), Alan Dean Foster’s Cachalot (1980), and Robert F. Young’s Spacewhale sequence of short stories (1962-1980) which includes “Starscape with Frieze of Dreams” (1970). And yes, a whale makes a fateful appearance in Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)…The interest in whale SF was probably rooted to the increasing scientific research on whale song in the 1970s. And whales do hold a certain allure as the largest mammals on our planet! Continue reading Book Review: Starship and Haiku, Somtow Sucharitkul (S. P. Somtow) (1981)→
The 1950s stories in Philip José Farmer’s collection Strange Relations(1960) rekindled my interest in in his earlier work. Yes, I want odd stories about hard-shelled, hilltop living, female-only womb aliens who fertilize themselves via roving mobile “male” objects whom they capture and thrust into their womb-spaces. But, there is not an author whom I have more polarizing relationship with…. Outside of the 50s stories I’ve had no success with his work—readers of the site will know my views on Traitor to the Living (1972), To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), and the latter novel’s endlessly bland and bloated sequels. I recently read the novel version of Nightof Light (1966), based on the 1957 story by the same name, Continue reading Book Review: The Alley God, Philip José Farmer (1962)→
Max Ernst (1891-1976) has long been one of my favorite artists. I had no idea, until browsing through the Penguin SF cover images from the 60s, that his art appeared on a variety of SF/F novels and related literature/nonfiction…. Yes, I had seen the memorable cover for J. G. Ballard’s The Crystal World (1966) [below] but I had not put the two together.
My favorite is without a doubt the use of Ernst’s awe-inspiring Europe After the Rain II (1940-42) for J. G. Ballard’s collection of stories, Memories of the Space Age (1988). The malaise generated by his landscapes of decay combined with the sheer power of Ballard’s visions evoke are almost palpable shudders of joy…
There are a handful more but I have included most of the 50s to early 80s examples.
And today, April 2nd, is Max Ernst’s birthday! So, share, if you are so inclined, your favorite of his works of art. And, feel free to identify any that might appear on the covers below… Too bad more publishers don’t latch onto the joy that are his collages (do a google search and you will understand).