Tag Archives: paperbacks

Book Review: Garbage World, Charles Platt (serialized 1966)

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(Keith Roberts’ cover for New Worlds SF, October 1966, ed. Michael Moorcock)

2/5 (Bad)

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)

Book Review: Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)

(Gene Szafran’s atrocious cover for the 1974 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“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)

Book Review: The Custodians and Other Stories, Richard Cowper (1976)

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(Geoff Taylor’s cover for the 1978 edition)

3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)

The Custodians and Other Stories contains Richard Cowper’s most famous short SF (both received Nebula nods): “The Custodians” (1975) and “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” (1976), later published side-by-side with his Nebula-nominated novel in the same sequence The Road to Corlay (1978).

My limited exposure to Cowper’s work so far—i.e. the hilarious post-apocalyptical black comedy on the British class system replete with intelligent dolphins and giant submarines,  Profundis (1979)—suggests an author who  can weave a solid story in a range of SF sub-genres from time travel Continue reading Book Review: The Custodians and Other Stories, Richard Cowper (1976)

Book Review: Out of Bounds, Judith Merril (1960)

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(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)

A question for my fellow SF fans: Which SF writer without a single author collection published within the last 10 years should receive a reprint?

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On twitter [my account here — please follow!  I post interesting things!] I posed the following question:

Which SF author—for the purposes of this site’s focus, an author starting pre-1980—deserves a new (or reprint) single author collection?

GUIDELINES (please read): Said author cannot have a single author collection published within the last 10 years (you can fudge this a bit).   It also should be noted that many eBooks aren’t available in the United States (SF Gateway for example).  If the recent eBook edition isn’t available in the US, I guess the author fits the bill (*cough* — John Sladek).

XNGNSS4D1969Note: If you are thinking about doing some checking before you make your choice (see guidelines) I recommend using isfdb.org as it has mostly up to date publication histories for all but self-published authors.

My vote: Miriam Allen deFord (active from — SF Encyclopedia LINK

Published collections: Xenogenesis (1969) and Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971)

Reason: Miriam Allen deFord (1888-1975) was one of the major voices in SF magazines from 1946 – 1978.   She never made the transition to novels and thus might have lost some readership as a result.  The stories in Xenogenesis (1969) shows an often radical voice right from her first story in 1946.  Although they might not be as polished as some of her more Continue reading A question for my fellow SF fans: Which SF writer without a single author collection published within the last 10 years should receive a reprint?

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIX (Platt + Smith + Anthologies)

I bought these a while back with Admiral Ironbombs at Battered, Tattered,  Yellowed, and Creased at the best used SF store I’ve encountered in the United States—Dawn Treader Books in Ann Arbor, MI (if you are ever in Michigan it’s worth the trip).  I’m glad I don’t live there else I would have no money.  I also discovered that Admiral Ironbombs doesn’t actually buy books that are battered and tattered—I do.  I guess he’s more of a “collector” than me.  Haha.

Enjoy some nice covers!

Has anyone read the work of Evelyn E. Smith?

Thoughts?

1. Best SF: 1970, ed. Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss (1971)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXIX (Platt + Smith + Anthologies)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Roberts + Cherryh + Blish + Knight + Pangborn)

Finally, a famous (“Joachim Boaz you will adore it”) fix-up novel by Keith Roberts enters my collection….

Overpopulation SF never gets old—even if I have low expectations about this one.

More Pangborn and a singleton Cherryh novel I had never heard of….

Thoughts?

1. A Torrent of Faces, James Blish & Norman L. Knight (1967)

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(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Roberts + Cherryh + Blish + Knight + Pangborn)