Tag Archives: Frederik Pohl

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

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(Irving Freeman and Mark Rubin’s cover for the 1st ed. of The Sheep Look Up (1972), John Brunner)

John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972) would easily make my top fifteen SF novels of the 1970s—it’s far better than anything else he produced in the decade, although some might argue that The Shockwave Rider (1975) comes close.  Other than the novel’s unforgettable power, the first edition cover by Irving Freeman and Mark Rubio for Harper & Row remains seared in my memory.  The  1973 Ballantine first edition paperback also used the same art.

The harrowing nature of the story, decaying bodies/pollution, matches perfectly the ram-horned figures on human torsos, gas masks upturned… The distance to the horizon line, rendered via black horizontal lines, results in Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Artists Behind the 1st ed. Cover of John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Pohl + Clarion Anthologies)

The Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, started in 1968, continues to this day as one of the successful workshops for authors with instruction by the best the genre has to offer.  The alumni list is massive including Vonda N. McIntyre, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Lucius Shepard, Bruce Sterling, etc.  For more on the workshop consult the SF Encyclopedia entry.  Robin Scott Wilson, the original director, published three anthologies decked out with the distinctive art of Gene Szafran.  I am now the proud owner of all three!

Stories by Ursula Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm, Octavia Butler, George Alec Effinger, Edward Bryant, among others and reflections by the greats of the day, Frederik Pohl, Joanna Russ, Harlan Ellison, etc.

And many many many less familiar authors whose stories I will be keen to explore.

And, last but not least, A Frederik Pohl collection with a stunning Richard Powers cover.  He was in fine form in the early 60s.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. The Abominable Earthman, Frederik Pohl (1963)

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(Richard Powers cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Pohl + Clarion Anthologies)

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)

Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CXXV (M. John Harrison + Coney 3x + Anthology + Cooper)

M. John Harrison’s collection The Machine in Shaft Tent (1975) contains one of the more humorous inside flap advertisements I have encountered:

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Don’t worry, I certainly intend to “see tomorrow today!”  I’ll be disappointed if I can’t!

The others are a strange blend…  From Edmund Cooper’s apparently anti-Free Love/60s culture Kronk (1970) to a delightful collection of another one of my favorite years of SF.

Also, I seldom accept advanced reader copies due to my limited time/limited interest in newer SF/and incredible mental block when it comes to, how shall I say it, outside forces guiding my central hobby which tends to take me in a variety of directions solely on whim.  But, Gollancz was nice enough to send me their new omnibus collection of 1970s Michael G. Coney novels (amazon link: US, UK).  Not only did I enjoy Hello Summer, Goodbye (1975) but I recently reviewed and loved Coney’s bizarre and original Friends Come in Boxes (1973).  With two out of two successes it’s hardly like I wouldn’t buy his work on sight anyway (another one of my requirements when accepting AVCs)….  I will review two or three of the novels in the omnibus one at a time over the next few months.

Thoughts?

1. The Machine in Shaft Ten, M. John Harrison (1975)

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(Chris Foss’ cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Acquisitions No. CXXV (M. John Harrison + Coney 3x + Anthology + Cooper)

Book Review: Drunkard’s Walk, Frederik Pohl (1960)

(Nik Puspurica’s cover for the 1960 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Frederik Pohl’s best early SF was produced with his frequent collaborator C. M. Kornbluth—the most notable of which include the masterpiece The Space Merchants (1953) and Gladiator-In-Law (1954).  The solo work I have read so far from the same period does not reach the heights of his Kornbluth collaborations but rather fluctuates between downright dull satires with intelligent dogs in the vein of Slave Ship (1956) to solid but unspectacular satire about higher education, Drunkard’s Walk (1960).  As of this moment in my SF reading career I place Pohl’s editorial work above his 50s/early 60s solo SF.  That said, I have not read any of his short fiction.

Recommended for fans of 50s/60s Continue reading Book Review: Drunkard’s Walk, Frederik Pohl (1960)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CX (Kornbluth + Pohl + Cowper + Hersey + Asimov anthology of short SF)

A nice batch—some more from the $1 hardback sale at my local bookstore, one procured via abebooks, and one from a friend.  I grabbed Cowper’s The Road to Corlay (1978) after seeing two solid reviews from my friends at Speculiction… [review here] and Porpourri of Science Fiction Literature [review here].  I enjoyed Cowper’s later  novel Profundis (1979).

I had no idea the Pulitzer-winning writer and journalist John Hersey from dystopic SF allegories…

And, a collection of early work from the fruitful partnership of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth…  With a gorgeous Richard Powers cover!

I’ve always enjoyed really short SF stories so I look forward to devouring Asimov and Conklin collection (perhaps in stages due to its length).

Enjoy the covers!

Thoughts?

1. The Wonder Effect, C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl (1962)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CX (Kornbluth + Pohl + Cowper + Hersey + Asimov anthology of short SF)

Book Review: Gladiator-At-Law, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (magazine publication 1954)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1955 edition)

3.25/5 (Good)

In honor of Frederik Pohl, who recently passed away, I decided to pick up one of his works from the dark maw that is my extensive and overwhelming to read pile.  The last Pohl novel I attempted was a complete disappointment — Slave Ship (1956) — but his collaborations with one of my favorite 50s short story authors, C. M. Kornbluth (who died in 1958 at 34), are often highly readable.   Perhaps the most famous writing duo in SF history, Kornbluth and Pohl produced five novels together including the SF classic The Space Merchants (1953) and multiple short story collections.  The dystopian satire Gladiator-At-Law (1954), although far from the heights of The Space Merchants, is a fine example of their fruitful collaboration.

The world they create is downright fantastic: A future where youth gangs rule the tough streets of Belle Rave (known as Belly Rave), fantastically brutal arena spectacles where old people clubbing each other draw large crowds, lavish bubble houses that supply virtually all needs and are given only Continue reading Book Review: Gladiator-At-Law, Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth (magazine publication 1954)