Tag Archives: john brunner

Fragment(s): Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)

(From Piers Anthony’s Macroscope (1969), 224)

First we must honor the book sacrificed in the making of this post: the spine of my Picador 1977 edition of Martin Bax’s The Hospital Ship (1976) needs some drastic surgery (glue) after I attempted to scan its dark interior….

As of late I’ve been fascinated by pseudo-knowledge in science fiction and speculative fiction–the scholarly afterward in The Iron Dream (1972), the real medical citations in The Hospital Ship (1976), the invented medical citations in Doctor Rat (1976), and “diagrammatic” SF covers filled with maps or anthropological diagrams.

Whatever form it takes, pseudo-knowledge—perhaps derived from our world or even “real” knowledge in our world modified and inserted into another imaginary one—adds, at the most basic level, a veneer of veracity. The most obvious category, and the one I am least interested in, is scientifically accurate Continue reading Fragment(s): Charts, Diagrams, Forms, and Tables in Science Fiction (John Brunner, Larry Niven, Christopher Priest, John Sladek, et al.)

Book Review: Bedlam Planet, John Brunner (1968)

(Jeff Jones’ cover for the 1968 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

To move past my variegated obsessions regarding William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat (1976) (review + list of imaginary scientific articles), I decided to reread a lesser known John Brunner novel. I cannot pinpoint exactly when I first read Bedlam Plant (1968), other than before I started my site, but it holds up as a moody biological mystery with mythological undertones as colonists confront their deceptive new world.

This isn’t Stand on Zanzibar (1968), Shockwave Rider (1975), The Sheep Look Up (1972), or The Jagged Orbit (1969), but it left me wishing that Brunner applied his Continue reading Book Review: Bedlam Planet, John Brunner (1968)

Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Dear readers, thank you all profusely for your comments, words of thanks, and emails over the year. It is my overarching goal to inspire you all to read more SF from the 50s-70s, dust off the boxes of your parents’ books in some forgotten closet, browse the shelves at your local used book store (or favorite online store), reflect on the often fascinating cover art…

2016 was not the most productive reading/reviewing year as my PhD dissertation defense date rapidly approaches. For the purposes of maintaining my sanity, reading and writing about SF remains my primary relaxation hobby—surprising perhaps as I read a lot of depressing SF that wouldn’t be “relaxing” for most people. According to Megan at From Couch to Moon I like my fiction “moody, broody, meta, and twisted.”

And other than a few satires here and there, my favorite SF reads of 2016 fit firmly within Megan’s descriptors.

Thanks again!

thdrmmllnn1974 czuqgixw0aiddub-1 crrehycuiaassn4

Best novels

  1. The Affirmation, Christopher Priest (1981)
  2. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (variant title: The War of Dreams), Angela Carter (1972). Review forthcoming 
  3. The Dream Millennium, James White (serialized 1973, novel 1974)
  4. The Committed Men, M. John Harrison (1971)

Continue reading Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories Pre-1969 by Women Authors: “Vintage Season” (1946), C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952), Katherine Maclean, “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910), Edna Underwood

The erudite and prolific Jesse provides the fourth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). I recommend investigating the archives over at his blog Speculiction, which covers both vintage and new SF ranging from Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty (2014) to John Brunner’s The Jagged Orbit (1969).

His post focuses on three stories from different authors including one of the best known from the pre-1969 era: the writing pair of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, Katherine MacLean, and Edna Underwood. As no discussion of women in pre-1969 SF would be complete without C.L. Moore, and it is often impossible to discern which stories she wrote individually and which she wrote with her husband Henry Kuttner, I gave the go ahead for Jesse to review one of their best known co-written short stories.

I hope you’ll track them down!

_________________________________________________________________

galaxy_195209

(Katherine Maclean’s “The Snowball Effect” first appeared in the September 1952 issue of Galaxy, cover: Jack Coggins)

Review of “Vintage Season” (1945) by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952) by Katherine MacLean, and “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910) by Edna Underwood

By Jesse

Gender in science fiction is surely one of the top three subjects in online genre discussion these days.  The objectification of women, the roles of women in story, the lack of award recognition for female writers, the negative Continue reading Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories Pre-1969 by Women Authors: “Vintage Season” (1946), C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, “The Snowball Effect” (1952), Katherine Maclean, “The Painter of Dead Women” (1910), Edna Underwood

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

thshplkpff1972

(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)

Book Review: The Best SF Stories From New Worlds, ed. Michael Moorcock (1967)

lehr

(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1968 edition)

4/5 (collated rating: Good)

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.

The takeaway: The majority of stories in are required reading for fans of New Wave SF and New Worlds magazine.  Find a copy of the anthology with its fantastic Paul Lehr cover or track down Continue reading Book Review: The Best SF Stories From New Worlds, ed. Michael Moorcock (1967)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 1960s covers of Emanuel Schongut

LLFLSHSGRS1965

(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. 1936) 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.

Although few of the other covers rise to the heights of Watchers of the Dark, some of his others from the 1960s still transfix and leave haunting impressions!  For example, Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 1960s covers of Emanuel Schongut