Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVI (Wolfe + Mendelson + Stableford + Tennant)

1) Brian M. Stableford has not faired particularly well on this site: I’ve reviewed The Florians (1976) and Journey to the Center (1982) (I apologize in advance for the rather slight reviews—they are years old). But I found a copy of the second volume of The Daedalus Mission series in a clearance bin, and depending on my mood, I have a soft spot for conflict-less “solve the biological mission” Star Trek-type SF. But The Florians (1976) was forgettable…

Jesse reviewed Stableford’s Man in a Cage (1975) and calls it an intelligent psychological exploration. I am more likely to read my copy before Critical Threshold (1977). Check out his review if you are interested in Stableford’s most mature work!

2) Emma Tennant’s The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973) was a compelling satire of the cozy apocalypse…. And I cannot resist snagging a copy of Hotel De Dream (1976), where residents of a seedy hotel start dreaming each other’s dreams.

3) A lesser known novel by Gene Wolfe… I don’t know when I’m going to get to his novel length work as I’m perfectly content exploring his short fiction in various anthologies at the present: “The Changeling” (1968), “Silhouette” (1975), “Sonya, Crane Wessleman, and Kittee” (1970), etc.

4) I now own one of the worst SF covers of all time! I purchased Pilgrimage (1981), Drew Mendelson’s only SF novel, due to SF Encyclopedia’s positive assessment and the fact I’m a sucker for futuristic cities, even if they’re heavily indebted to Christopher Priest’s Inverted World (1974): “[it] grippingly presents a vision of a bleak Ruined Earth environment, long abandoned by most humans except for those who inhabit the planet’s one remaining artefact, a vast City that moves slowly across the devastated land.” For more on the novel consult the entry here.

But the cover… Cringe!

As always thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Critical Threshold, Brian M. Stableford (1977)

(Douglas Beekman’s cover for the 1977 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVI (Wolfe + Mendelson + Stableford + Tennant)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Uncanny Bodies of Wojtek Siudmak

(Cover for Fiction, #200 (August, 1970), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

Our adventures in French SF magazine cover art continue! A little more than a month ago I posted on Claude Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations and we press on in a similar manner with the art of Wojtek Siudmak, a Polish-born artist  based in France.

I am deliberately featuring only Siudmak’s first two years of cover art (he was very prolific): 1970-1972. Between these years he mostly illustrated the major French SF magazines  Fiction and Galaxie. As I mentioned in the previous post, the 60s and 70s covers for Fiction—“the leading journal of science fiction and fantasy in France” until its cancellation in 2015—were characterized by simple color schemes and delightful line work. Siudmak adeptly works within Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Uncanny Bodies of Wojtek Siudmak

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)

1) Blunt statement: I need to read more of the Strugatski brothers. I devoured the The Ugly Swans (written 1966-1967, published 1979 in the US, published in 1987 in the USSR) but did not review it.

2) A fascinating speculative feminist novel from The Women’s Press–birth, myth, delusions, dreams, terror.  Few reviews exist online so I will go in without much knowledge of the work.

3) I placed Miriam Allen deFord’s collection (filled with numerous gems) Xenogenesis (1969) on a list of SF Gollancz’s Masterwork series should acquire. Her only other published collection for the longest time was priced far out of my reach. This is why you have Amazon lists… scan them frequently, find the deals!

4) A Ballard novel with “pervading auroral gloom, broken by inward shifts of light”? Count me in! As a fierce advocate of Ballard’s early fiction and novels, I cannot wait to read this one…

Related reviews: Billenium (1962), High-Rise (1975), The Voice of Time and Other Stories (1962). The Drowned World (1962) and The Drought (1964) clock in as my favorite of his novels—although both remain unreviewed… Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Terminal Beach (1964).

Scans are from my personal collection. Click to enlarge.

Thoughts/comments are welcome (as always)!

1. The Final Circle of Paradise, Arkadi and Boris Strugatski (1965, trans. 1976)

(Laurence Kresek’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXV (Ballard + Strugatski + deFord + Baines)

Short Book Reviews: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014), John Sladek’s The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), Robert Sheckley’s Options (1975)

Yes (I see inquisitive phantom stares), I listened to an audiobook written in this decade. And it was good. Very good. Brilliant actually. As it was an audiobook, I’m unable to write an in-depth review. However there are plenty online for the curious–in part because it won the 2015 Nebula Award. I added two additional novels that have been waiting patiently in a “to review” pile that are more my standard territory…

Think of these short reviews as tantalizing fragments rather than my normal analysis. The books that reside in these short review posts often defeated my reviewing capabilities.

1. The Müller-Fokker Effect, John Sladek (1970)

(McInnery’s cover for the 1972 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

In my 2016 in review I promised to read more of Sladek’s work, and for once I’m holding true to my reading goals.

That said, I find Sladek’s novels notoriously difficult to parse into cohesive reviews—his SF (and my reviews by extension) stretch satirically in all directions, unfolding in fascinating experiments that jest with layered wordplay and (often) diagrammatic dalliances (see example below). There’s a humorous Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014), John Sladek’s The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), Robert Sheckley’s Options (1975)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

tfthslntpl1960

(Cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis)

Art Sussman produced a remarkable corpus of SF and other pulp covers (mysteries, crime, etc). He could easily shift gears between Richard Powers-esque surrealism—although distinctly his own take—to covers that suited an Agatha Christie mystery (browse the range here). I would be wary comparing him to Powers until you skim through the latter’s late 50s early 60s art (definitely an enjoyable activity!). Although Powers is still far superior, both were part of the SF art movement increasingly experimented with surreal/metaphoric and experimental art (there are still spaceships lurking around the edges, and futuristic cities, and other pulpy moments).

There is a precision of vision with Sussman’s art—his cover for the 1960 edition of Out of Silent Planet (1938), C. S. Lewis places the astronauts in an outline of a vessel with strange hints at alien planets and experiences scattered gem-like in the distance. Sussman’s focus on the human form — often surrounded by surreal forms and humanlike membranes — showcases agony and despair. A great example (and my favorite of the bunch) pairs jagged black fields with a bloodied man, the 1960 Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The 50s/60s Surrealistic Stylings of Art Sussman

Book Review: The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack), Emma Tennant (1973)

emma-tennant

(Candy Amsden’s disturbing cover for the 1978 edition)

4/5 (Good)

Emma Tennant’s The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack) (1973) takes the form of a series of character vignettes in a transmogrified London. Despite Tennant’s wide-ranging societal critiques,  it’s a brief book–my 1978 Penguin edition clocks in at 112 pages–threaded loosely together by the occasional presence of Baba, a Playboy bunny. The cataclysm in question, the appearance of an expanding crack under the Thames, although causing devastation, doubles as a metaphoric birth moment. The landscape modified, buildings contorted by the severance… And in the wreckage of what remains the survivors make postures towards all manners of “New” English societies Continue reading Book Review: The Time of the Crack (variant title: The Crack), Emma Tennant (1973)

Fragment(s): Emma Tennant on the Influence of the 1970s British SF Scene

emma tennant.jpg

(Candy Amsden’s cover for the 1978 edition of The Crack (variant of: The Time of the Crack) (1973), Emma Tennant)

As I recently procured a copy of Emma Tennant’s The Crack (variant title: The Time of the Crack) (1973) in which a fault line appears under London destroying half the city, I decided to research her work.

William Grimes describes Emma Tennant’s fiction—in a New York Times retrospective on her life and works—as blending “fantasy, science fiction and social satire” that “explored the borderland between daylight and dreams, anatomized contemporary Britain.” Grimes quotes Gary Indiana’s 1990 The Village Voice article: “a startling procession of novels unlike anything else being written in England: wildly imaginative, Continue reading Fragment(s): Emma Tennant on the Influence of the 1970s British SF Scene