*preliminary note: I am on something of a semi-hiatus—PhD writing and the like. However, I have a Malzberg review of Scop (1976) nearly complete and might do a rundown of the SF I’ve been unable to review over the past few months in a more informal format (one paragraph reviews or something of that ilk)—Phillip Mann’s Wulfsyan (1990), M. John Harrison’s The Machine in Shaft Ten (1975), etc.
In my recent travels, I stopped in Nashville, Tennessee and picked up three of the four novels for under a dollar each. McIntyre’s novel is the sole Hugo Award Winner for best Novel between the years 1953 to 1990 I’ve not read. I should remedy that immediately as I’ve enjoyed her other work—for example, the novella “Screwtop” (1976).
Budrys’ novel actually sounds like I’d enjoy it despite my dislike of some of his work (and views)…. It certainly is my type of SF story concept-wise. The last Delany novel missing from my collection and everyone loves Wyndham and immortality SF, right?
1. Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre (1978)
(Stephen Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition of Dreamsnake) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXV (Delany + Wyndham + Budrys + McIntyre)
(Keith Roberts’ cover for New Worlds SF, October 1966, ed. Michael Moorcock)
In 1980, 3,000 copies of Charles Platt’s SF novel The Gas (1970)—in which, the “eponymous gas, accidentally released over England, works as an irresistible aphrodisiac […]” and, according to John Clute at SF encyclopedia, contains “sex material” in “transgressively pornographic terms”—were seized by UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions in effect preventing a UK distribution [article].
Platt’s first novel, Garbage World (serialized 1966), feels like The Gas‘s SF juvenile little brother i.e. without the transgressive porn but all the intent to shock a 14 year old boy, although it’s never more than “the warmth of the mud mingled with the warmth of their lovemaking” (95). So, what is this tidbit of effluvia all about? First, the silliest part of the novel—the often scatalogical chapter titles: “Garbage Party” (21), “The Hole” ( 57), “The Yellow Rain” (81), “The Defecated Village” (100), “The Great Purgative Continue reading Book Review: Garbage World, Charles Platt (serialized 1966)
(Gene Szafran’s atrocious cover for the 1974 edition)
“The men heard, and they rejoiced to find an enemy they could conquer at last. One night, as planned, they pulled all the women from sleep, herded them together, and harangued them, saying, remember, you caused the Wasting” (3).
Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) is the first of four novels in The Holdfast Chronicles sequence (1974-1999) that charts the slow forces of change in a post-apocalyptical future where women (“fems”) are chattel. Kate Macdonald, in her wonderful review of Ammonite (1993) characterized Nicola Griffith’s novel as “instantly […] feminist: not stealth, or muted, or sub-conscious.” Walk to the End of the World falls squarely, and powerfully into this category. Told with intensity and vigor, Charnas brands the reader with her vision, a searing and festering landscape where white men have either exterminated the remaining “unmen” (the “Dirties”) or subjugated them (the “fems”) after a manmade cataclysm. Complex societal institutions maintain control Continue reading Book Review: Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
(Art Sussman’s cover for the 1960 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)
I have long been a fan of both Judith Merril’s fiction and edited volumes. The eponymous novella in the collection Daughters of Earth (1968) is one of more delightful visions from the 1950s I have encountered. Merril reframes biblical patrilineal genealogy as matrilineal–i.e. humankind’s conquest of space is traced via the female descendants of an august progenitor. The story is brilliant in part due to a remarkable metafictional twist, the story itself is compiled from historical documents to serve as an instructional template for future generations of women. Despite substantial editorial control that forced Merril to include a rather hokey plot on two hokey planets, the story remains memorable for the well crafted feminist Continue reading Book Review: Out of Bounds, Judith Merril (1960)
The fifth in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Max Cairnduff (twitter)—who reviews literature and occasionally SF over at Pechorin’s Journal. In the past he has contributed to my Michael Bishop series. He is responsible for introducing me to one of my favorite works of all time, Anna Kavan’s phenomenal hallucination of a novel Ice (1967)—so check out his site.
Although he does not seem to have enjoyed Margaret and I (1971) as much as I did, his review does touch on the novel’s extreme psychological power and ingenious set-up.
Thank you so much for contributing!
(Uncredited cover for the 1978 edition)
Nominated for the 1972 Nebula Award for Best Novel
The only Kate Wilhelm I’d read before Joachim invited me to take part in this Guest Post series was her novel Welcome, Chaos. I’ve not even read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (though I always thought I had, which ironically is probably what stopped me reading it).
Beyond those two titles I knew very little about her work. Joachim though knows his vintage SF, so when he invited me Continue reading Guest Post: Margaret and I, Kate Wilhelm (1971)
I have yet to read anything by the Nobel Prize for Literature-winning author Doris Lessing… And she wrote numerous SF novels—I’m very excited that I found one in a clearance section for 2$. I also found one of the very few 1970s works by Silverberg not in my collection. Dickson’s supposedly most mature novel (which I doubt is very good) also joins my collection. So far the only Dickson I can tolerate are a handful of his short stories. And finally, my last acquisition is one of Robert Sheckley’s best-loved novels.
1. The Memoirs of a Survivor, Doris Lessing (1974)
(Brad Holland’s cover for the 1988 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVI (Lessing, Silverberg, Sheckley, Dickson)
The first in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Admiral Ironbombs (twitter) who blogs, rather compulsively, on Vintage SF and other things over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased. Check out his site if you haven’t already!
(Ed Soyka’s cover for the 1977 edition)
Won the 1977 Hugo Award for Best Novel
Won the 1977 Locus Award for Best Novel
Nominated for the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Before Joachim asked me to write a review as part of this guest post series, I didn’t know much about Kate Wilhelm. (That being the point, of course, a way to raise awareness of lesser-known but deserving authors.) I knew Wilhelm was the wife of famed editorcritic Damon Knight, I’ve seen other SF bloggers write glowing praise for her novels, and I’ve enjoyed a few of her short fiction in the not too distant past. But I’m Continue reading Guest Post: Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)