Tag Archives: fantasy

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

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(Cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis)

Art Sussman produced a remarkable corpus of SF and other pulp covers (mysteries, crime, etc). He could easily shift gears between Richard Powers-esque surrealism—although distinctly his own take—to covers that suited an Agatha Christie mystery (browse the range here). I would be wary comparing him to Powers until you skim through the latter’s late 50s early 60s art (definitely an enjoyable activity!). Although Powers is still far superior, both were part of the SF art movement increasingly experimented with surreal/metaphoric and experimental art (there are still spaceships lurking around the edges, and futuristic cities, and other pulpy moments).

There is a precision of vision with Sussman’s art—his cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis places the astronauts in an outline of a vessel with strange hints at alien planets and experiences scattered gem-like in the distance. Sussman’s focus on the human form — often surrounded by surreal forms and humanlike membranes — showcases agony and despair. A great example (and my favorite of the bunch) pairs jagged black fields with a bloodied man, the 1960 Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIV (Hoban + Roberts + Piercy + Baker)

1) Two SF/F reads inspired my pseudonym “Joachim Boaz.” The first, a novel from my dad’s shelf by Russell Hoban–The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz (1973) in which a mapmaker designs a map charting the places of inspiration. This resonated with what I wanted my site to be (and hopefully, is)! I finally have a personal copy. I remember little from the book other than the before mentioned map.

The second, Barrington J. Bayley’s vaguely solid (but influential as I was new SF reader at the time) novel Pillars of Eternity (1982) about a man who decides to name his new self “Joachim Boaz.” Be warned, it’s one of the first, and rather shoddy, reviews on my site. I wrote the review sometime before 2010 (the date Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations began).

2) Marge Piercy’s a new author to me and I look forward to her work. That said, the premise of Dance the Eagle to Sleep (1970) seems more miss than hit. I suspect I should find a copy of Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) instead.

3) Keith Roberts’  The Inner Wheel (1970) takes the form of a fix-up novel (although often listed as a collection). As I have been impressed with his SF so far, this will move towards the top of my ever-changing read to list. And it’s graced with an evocative cover despite the Playboy Press SF edition!

Related Keith Roberts reviews: “The Deep” (1966), “High Eight” (1965), “Sub-Lim” (1965), “Molly Zero” (1977), and “Coranda” (1967).

4) Scott Baker’s Symbiote’s Crown (1978) seems to be his best known work. I know little about the book other than it won the 1984 Prix Apollo.

Scans are from my own collection. Click to enlarge!

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, Russell Hoban (1973)

(Alan Magee’s cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXIV (Hoban + Roberts + Piercy + Baker)

Book Review: Blind Voices, Tom Reamy (1978)

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(David Plourde’s cover for the 1978 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Tom Reamy’s Blind Voices (1978) was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and BFSA awards and came in second in Locus voting for best novel in 1979.  Posthumously released, Reamy died of a heart attack while writing in the fall of 1977 at 42.  His take on small town America transformed by the arrival of a traveling circus and its array of wonders will stay with you for years to come.  The science fiction elements (revealed more than halfway through the novel) interlace and add to the elegiac and constrained fantasy feel.  The specter of sexuality and violence Continue reading Book Review: Blind Voices, Tom Reamy (1978)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Spotlight on David McCall Johnston

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(Cover for the 1971 edition of New Writings in SF 6 (variant title: New Writings in S-F 6) (1965), ed. John Carnell)

The American artist David McCall Johnston (b. 1940) [webpage] produced a mere handful of SF covers.  They are striking and somewhat minimalist in comparison to his famous fantasy covers (Orlando Furiosos, Moorcock’s The Chronicles of Corum sequence, etc).  I have included all of his SF covers (that I know of) with a selection of fantasy covers (that do not intrigue me as much as the SF ones).  My favorites: the 1971 edition of New Writings in SF 6, 1971 edition of New Writings in SF 7, and the 1971 Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: A Spotlight on David McCall Johnston

Book Review: Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr (1971)

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(Davis Meltzer’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.75/5 (Collated rating: Good)

Won the Locus 1972 Award for Best Original Anthology.

The Universe series of anthologies contained original SF that had not yet appeared in print.  And, the inaugural volume Universe 1 (1971) ed. by Terry Carr certainly hit critical pay dirt: Robert Silverberg’s minimalist the first robotic pope tale won the Nebula for Best Short Story, George Alec Effinger’s anti-war black comedy was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story, Joanna Russ’ alt-history (sort of) fable was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, and Edgar Pangborn’s sentient “alien” animals look for a caretaker mood piece was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette.

On the whole the quality is fairly Continue reading Book Review: Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr (1971)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIX (Yarbro + Jones + Priest + Anthology)

Another Priest collection!—go find An Infinite Summer (1979)…

A collection by Yarbro—did not care for False Dawn (1978)…

A wonderful anthology with Robert Silverberg, Joanna Russ, Ron Goulart (whom I have never read), Gregory Benford, Gordon Eklund, Wilson Tucker, Edward Bryant, R. A. Lafferty, George Alec Effinger, Barry N. Malzberg, Gerard F. Conway, Edgar Pangbon…

And finally, the sole collection by one of the important (but lesser known) proponents of the New Wave…

Two (guess which!) are gifts from my wife who definitely knows my SF tastes…

Thoughts?

  1. Cautionary Tales, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1983 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “A bizarre and haunting journey through inner and outer space—to alien worlds where an aging playwright is in danger of losing his soul to a monstrous organic computer…. a charming teeny-bopper ghoul solves the problem of hunger in the town morgue… a member of the patrol squad on a dreary, useless planet is lured by the sucking darkness of evil Scranton’s marsh… the frozen steerage passengers on a floundering space ship share a gruesome fate… malevolent forces on the other side of death are held at bay by a huge black swan… and other strange and wondrous events Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXIX (Yarbro + Jones + Priest + Anthology)

Book Review: Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight (1970)

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)

The avant-garde leaning Orbit anthology series, edited by Damon Knight, had an illustrious run from 1966-1976.  Recently I have become more and more intrigued by the anthology as a way to access a wider range of authors and radical visions.  Despite my rather lowish collated rating of Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock, it was a satisfying collection which exposed me to the SF of Langdon Jones and Pamela Zoline.  Likewise, it somewhat rehabilitated my view of Charles Platt whose Planet of the Voles (1971) has long been one of my least favorite SF novels.

Anthologies are fascinating cross sections of the genre reflecting what was perceived as worthwhile SF by editors.  They will almost always be more uneven than single author collections.  But the exposure to forgotten authors and authors who never received a single author collection makes them almost always worthwhile.

Orbit 8 (1970) is no exception.  The anthology swings wildly from Gardner Dozois’ masterpiece “Horse of Air” (1970) Continue reading Book Review: Orbit 8, ed. Damon Knight (1970)