Tag Archives: Kit Reed

Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Megan (twitter) over at From Couch to Moon—who, with boundless wit and intelligence, enjoys exploring the turbulent seas of lesser known SF both vintage and contemporary—provides the sixth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). Head over to her blog—do not miss her review of Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) written in his style and more recent rundowns of various award slates, the 2015 Kitschies for example.

Here are three reviews of 1950s short fiction by Judith Merril, Margaret St. Clair, and Kit Reed.

As always, the required exhortation, find copies!

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(“Survival Ship” appeared in the May 1955 issue of New Worlds Science Fiction, ed. John Carnell, cover: Gerard Quinn)

Reviews of “Survival Ship” (1951) by Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954) by Margaret St. Clair, and “The Wait” (1958) by Kit Reed

By Megan

Not being much of a short fiction reader, these were all new-to-me stories that I thought I might appreciate. A selection of fifties SF, all of which are dark and strange and rebellious, and examine the social and political pressures that are often Continue reading Guest Post: Pioneer Spaceships, Robot Therapists, and Oppressive Small Towns: “Survival Ship” (1951), Judith Merril, “Short in the Chest” (1954), Margaret St. Clair, “The Wait” (1958), Kit Reed

Guest Post Series Announcement: SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition of A Handful of Time (1963), Rosel George Brown)

The time has come for a new Guest Post series on SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969. My reasons are two-fold: 1) to showcase a deserving and fascinating topic in line with my goal to feature lesser known SF from a range of viewpoints and traditions 2) to feature posts from reviewers in the vintage SF blogsphere and beyond (in any combination of the following) that attempt to move past standard lists and grand narratives of canon, tackle fiction from evidence-based analytical and academic perspectives, or are simply darn good writers whose sites I cannot help but return to compulsively.

Why pre-1969? Although most endpoints are arbitrary in nature, 1969 saw the publication of Ursula Le Guin’s magisterial The Left Hand of Darkness. Considered a watershed moment in the history of women writers as it was the first to win a Hugo Award for best novel, Le Guin among many others were part of a rich (albeit oft suppressed and ignored) genealogy of women SF authors reaching back to Mary Shelly. My focus on short stories will allow exploration of many authors who did not write novels, whose novels overshadow their short fiction, and those whose rich body of early work focused predominately on the short form.

Thus I have rounded up my normal suspects along with new voices. The first guest post series covered the work of Michael Bishop and the second Kate Wilhelm.

Topics in the queue: Robot therapists, French and Soviet SF, a range of speculative fictions from the 19th Continue reading Guest Post Series Announcement: SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXV (Leiber + Haiblum + Scholz and Harcourt + Orbit Anthology)

Recently reminded of Fritz Leiber’s beautiful story “A Pail of Air” (1951) which I reviewed a few years ago in the eponymous collection, I was delighted to come across another one of his short story collections.  Thankfully, no Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories are in sight.  And of course, another Richard Powers cover…

On twitter I mentioned my ignorance regarding the work of Isidore Haiblum, the author of the “the first Yiddish SF novel” according to the blurb on The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders (1971).  I have not come across a copy of that particular novel yet, but, another even lesser known quantity joins the books arrayed in piles across my library.

My dalliance with the 1980s continues in fits and starts: I wrote a short review of Christopher Priest’s masterpiece The Affirmation (1981) and recently reviewed Terry Carr’s edited volume Universe 10 (1980)…  As Carter Scholz’s short story “The Johann Sebastian Bach Memorial Barbecue and Nervous Breakdown” (1980) made such a positive impression on me, I decided to find a copy of his collaborative novel.

And I love Damon Knight’s Orbit series of original anthologies.  For reviews: Orbit 1 (1966), Orbit 3 (1968), and Orbit 8 (1970).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Fritz Leiber, The Night of the Wolf (1966)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)  Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXV (Leiber + Haiblum + Scholz and Harcourt + Orbit Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Digression: I have been thinking about “best of” lists and why I seldom approach an author by reading their “best known” work first.  Caveat: I compulsively read the Hugo list as a kid and was exposed to many wonderful authors.

Reading “the acknowledged best” reinforces our notions of what is canon or not canon.  And I am all about puncturing holes in our self-perpetuating notions of canon and SF grand narratives of what is “classic” SF and what is not.  The following dialogue often plays out:

A) “Have you read the best SF novels of the 1970s?”

B) “Yes, I have, from this great top 15 novels list!”

A) “What would you say are the best novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Oh, here you go!” Regurgitates original list.

A) “Have you read other SF novels from the 1970s?”

B) “Umm.”

I am guilty of this as well!  My top 1960s novels list undergoes regular revisions.  The original list was a product of my lack of knowledge.  Regardless, it remains to this day the most popular and commented upon post on my site!  Alas!

Sometimes “the less known” novels are a way to get a feel for what an author is capable of and seeing an author through their body of work leads (at least for me) to greater appreciation for their best (which might not be the ones anointed by the majority).  Barry N. Malzberg: I read In the Enclosure (1973) before  Beyond Apollo (1972).  Doris Piserchia:  Doomtime (1981) before A Billion Days of Earth (1976). Robert Silverberg: Thorns (1967) before Downward to the Earth  (1970).  Christopher Priest:  Indoctrinaire (1970) before The Affirmation (1981).

Third, I put great value on individual exploration. It is humorous and ironic that I have run this review site for six or so years but am reluctant to immediately follow-up on the reading suggestions of others.  I am sorry frequent readers!  I devour the reviews of others for sure (see Part I and Part II for worthwhile resources).  Well-argued reviews with evidence and an understanding of the work’s time and place and reflections on interactions with/or within genre, are more likely to remain with me.  And then, when I am in the book store, I remember what others have said.

The questions I have been pondering: Do I put together a best 20 novels of the 1970s list?  When do I decide whether I have read enough?  Or, do I play the “caveat” game and state that this is bound to change (which it is as I read more)?

Post proper:  My mapping of the contours of Kit Reed’s early oeuvre continues.  Her first SF novel Armed Camps (1969) and her stories in Mister Da V. and Other Stories (1967) demonstrate a knack for humanistic exploration of characters trapped in manifestations of cyclicality—be it social constructions or the forces of history.

David Gerrold’s novels do not inspire…..  At least so far: Space Skimmer (1972) + Yesterday’s Children (variant title: Starhunt) (1972).  Which means, time for short stories!  And yes, his acknowledged best The Man  Who Folded Himself (1973) waits in the wings [From Couch to Moon’s review —> here].

Non-English language SF other than Stanislaw Lem and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: the biggest hole in my SF knowledge.

And perhaps the find/risk of the bunch, a satirical pseudo-governmental pamphlet that generated endless debate about its authenticity.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. With a Finger in My I, David Gerrold (1972)

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(Mati Klarwein’s cover for the 1972 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLIX (Gerrold + Reed + Lewin + Anthology of European Non-English Language SF)

Book Review: The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock (1968)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1969 edition)

3.75/5 (Collated rating: Good)

As New Worlds issues tend to be expensive and hard to find (especially in the US), Michael Moorcock’s anthology series provides satiating morsels from the magazine’s best period.  New Worlds was instrumental in the so-called New Wave movement.  I am at home in  eclectic and genre-challenging/subversive madness.

New Worlds combined SF stories/poems with experimental art and layout that is, unfortunately, lost in the anthologies.  One of my favorite examples is Vivienne Young’s collage (below) illustrating James Sallis’ “Kazoo” (1967) Continue reading Book Review: The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 2, ed. Michael Moorcock (1968)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLII (Silverberg + Reed + Robinson + Reamy)

More Kit Reed! I enjoyed both her first short story collection Mister Da Vi (1967) and first SF novel Armed Camps (1969).  I was impressed enough to track down another—and as she has informed me via twitter “rare”—collection.  Rare enough that she does not even own a copy!

Fresh off Tom Reamy’s dark and wonderful Blind Voices (1978), I thought it would be best to explore some of his early short fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with another Robert Silverberg collection from his heyday (late 60s-70s), although, I have read at least two of the thirteen stories in the collection already.

Frank M. Robinson in the early 90s jumped back on the SF scene with the well-received generation ship novel The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991).  More involved with editing over the decades, he published in the 70s a series of famous thrillers with Thomas N. Scortia.  I found a copy of his first novel, The Power (1956), although, the presence of telepathy (my least favorite SF theme?) makes me less than enthused.

Three of the four following books came via Mike at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature and Tongues of Speculation—he visited Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis and sent me 10 (!!) books I had on my “to acquire” list.

Thoughts and comments are welcome (as always!).

1. Unfamiliar Territory, Robert Silverberg (1973)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLII (Silverberg + Reed + Robinson + Reamy)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVII (Women of Wonder Anthology + Eklund + Watson + Franke)

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(Inside illustration by Vincent Di Fate for the 1973 edition of The Orchid Cage (1961), Herbert W. Franke)

Part II of my SF acquisitions from Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI– Part I.  In my attempt to acquire more foreign SF (still haven’t managed to read that much of it—but the mood will strike eventually), I found a nice copy with a wonderful interior illustration and cover by Vincent Di Fate of one of Herbert W. Franke’s novels.

Also, another Ian Watson novel—I’ve read the Jonah Kit (1975) but never got around to reviewing it as well as his collection (must read for fans of 70s SF) The Very Slow Time Machine (1979).  Jesse over at Speculiction raves about his other Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXLVII (Women of Wonder Anthology + Eklund + Watson + Franke)