Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

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 Acqusitions No.CLVIII (Tucker + Charnas + Coppel + Sheckley)

September will be a slow month, my apologies in advance.  The review backlog grows and grows–reviews of Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970) and The Best SF Stories from New Worlds #2 (1968) should be appearing soon.  Although, there are many unreviewed volumes less fresh on my memory…

At least I have a massive review INDEX to keep you all busy.

I am diligently posting all the KWG volumes I snagged from a local Half Price Books—this shadowy person had a spectacular collection.

I am rarely interested in SF series, but, I’ll make an exception as Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) was so darn amazing!

More Sheckley!

More Tucker! Fresh off the very satisfying The Long Loud Silence (1952)

And finally, a novel from an author I’ve never read before—Alfred Coppel.

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.

1. Motherlines, Suzy McKee Charnas (1978)

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(Doug Beekman’s very bland cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acqusitions No.CLVIII (Tucker + Charnas + Coppel + Sheckley)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Futuristic Cities of Lima de Freitas, Part I

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(Cover for the 1967 edition of vol. 1 of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1965), Robert A. Heinlein)

The Portuguese painter and illustrator Lima de Freitas (1927-1998) created a vast number of covers for the Portuguese press Livros do Brasil.  For more on the range of art he produced in his career consult his wikipedia page [here].

A while back I reviewed Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959) and discovered de Freitas’ amazing cover (below).  More than any of the US editions, it evokes the claustrophobic tone of the novel (and even some of the surreal elements).

As the son of two architects, architecturally inclined SF covers always fascinate. Thus, as an introduction to his art (if you do not know it already) I have collected a handful of his cityscapes.  They are surreal masterpieces.  Lima de Freitas’ covers emphasize the city as a canvas, the textures of human Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Futuristic Cities of Lima de Freitas, Part I

Book Review: New Writings in SF 4, ed. John Carnell (1965) (Asimov + Roberts + Tenn + Kapp + Etchison + Morgan)

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(Robert Foster’s stunning cover for the 1968 edition)

2.75/5 (Collated rating: Vaguely Average)

Despite the presence of one of Robert Foster’s best covers (for more on his art: Part I, Part II), New Writings in SF 4, ed. John Carnell (1965) contains only a few glimmers of brilliance—concentrated in Keith Roberts’ short story “Sub-Lim” (1965), a dark tale of crooked people and subliminal stimuli.  Isaac Asimov regurgitates something about a SF heist he scribbled on a napkin, Dan Morgan mumbles about alternate universes and tricycles, and Colin Kapp lectures on the “unusual methods of cementation of electrolysis” (54) instead of telling a Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in SF 4, ed. John Carnell (1965) (Asimov + Roberts + Tenn + Kapp + Etchison + Morgan)

Book Review: The Long Loud Silence, Wilson Tucker (1952, revised 1969)

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(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1953 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

Preliminary Note: I read the 1969 Lancer edition which was “specially revised and updated by the author.”  Other than many overt references to the Vietnam War which chronologically could not have been in the original 1952 edition, I am uncertain how much was subtracted, added, or re-conceived.  John Clute at SF Encyclopedia indicates that “early editions” deleted references to cannibalism.  Perhaps he means the pre-1969 editions as it is horrifyingly present in this edition.  I wish I read the first edition as comparisons to his contemporaries would be easier to make.  Anyone who has read both versions or knows of a resource which lays out the modifications, please let me know.  The idea of updating a radical 50s novel for a late 60s audience intrigues me!

The Long Loud Silence (1952, revised 1969) is a quiet novel that depends on the emotional impact of loneliness and trauma,  and the desire for intrahuman connection Continue reading Book Review: The Long Loud Silence, Wilson Tucker (1952, revised 1969)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)

A person with the initials K.W.G ditched their entire SF collection at my local Half Price Books.  So many books that the store made a new SF anthology section that did not exist a few months ago and the “vintage” SF books made up more than half the non-vintage SF section.  I spent too much money.  One of many future SF Acquisitions posts featuring books from the mysterious K. W. G….

A famous anthology important for showcasing UK authors in America!  I’ve included the lengthy description of the collection by Ace and their position vis-à-vis New Wave SF.  I find it humorous that the publisher has to defend their position!

An often praised 1950s post-apocalyptical novel by Wilson Tucker….  My 1969 edition was “rewritten” by the author–unfortunately, I have already started reading it (not sure how much it will tell me about  its position in 1950s SF if it were rewritten in the 60s).  Perhaps someone knows how much was changed?  Admiral Ironbombs wrote a worthwhile review here.

Fred Saberhagen’s best known work.

And one of the few Frank Herbert novels I have not read…

Thoughts and comments are always welcome.

1. England Swings SF: Stories of Speculative Fiction, ed. Judith Merril (1968)

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(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLV (Herbert + Tucker + Saberhagen + England Swings SF anthology)