Tag Archives: post-apocalyptic

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)

IMG_0590

(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)

Guest Post: Year of the Cloud, Kate Wilhelm and Theodore L. Thomas (1970)

The third in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Mike White (twitter)—a research biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, MO—who blogs on mostly early SF (pre-1920) and a variety of science topics with a whole cast of other writers at The Finch and the Pea (a “public house for science”).  This is his first contribution to one of my guest post series and it is greatly appreciated (and won’t be his last).

He selected, on purpose (in very Joachim Boaz fashion I might add), what might be Kate Wilhelm’s least known SF novel.  Early in her career she wrote two novels with Theodore L. Thomas: the Nebula-nominated The Clone (1965) and Year of the Cloud (1970).

~

RFTHCLDXVQ1971

(Francois Colos’ cover for the 1970 edition)

Post-apocalyptic stories do many things, one of which is to question our mastery of nature. We’re used to relying on technology to bend the world to our will — science stands between us and the brute forces of nature. Extinction is for lesser species. But post-apocalyptic stories remind us of all the ways that nature could wipe us out: the Earth could collide with a comet or pass through a toxic cloud of space gas, the sun could fade or go nova, or some pandemic plague could arise that kills us directly, wipes out our food supply, or turns us into the walking dead.

As horrifying as these events would be in real life, there is a strain of post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn’t see these disasters as all bad. Killing off most of humanity offers, in fiction anyway, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. With the post-holocaust world much less crowded, noisy, and Continue reading Guest Post: Year of the Cloud, Kate Wilhelm and Theodore L. Thomas (1970)

Guest Post: Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)

The first in my Kate Wilhelm’s SF Guest Post Series (original announcement and post list) comes via Admiral Ironbombs (twitter) who blogs, rather compulsively, on Vintage SF and other things over at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased.   Check out his site if you haven’t already!

~

(Ed Soyka’s cover for the 1977 edition)

Won the 1977 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Won the 1977 Locus Award for Best Novel

Nominated for the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel

Before Joachim asked me to write a review as part of this guest post series, I didn’t know much about Kate Wilhelm. (That being the point, of course, a way to raise awareness of lesser­-known but deserving authors.) I knew Wilhelm was the wife of famed editor­critic Damon Knight, I’ve seen other SF bloggers write glowing praise for her novels, and I’ve enjoyed a few of her short fiction in the not too distant past. But I’m Continue reading Guest Post: Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)

Book Review: Friends Come in Boxes, Michael G. Coney (1973)

(John Holmes’ cover for the 1973 edition)

4.25/5 (Good)

“KEEP A CLEAN SHEET OR YOU’LL END UP AS MEAT” (72)

Michael G. Coney’s focus on everyday struggles—the normal minutiae of life—reached wonderful heights in the lyrical paean to youth and youthful travails Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975).  While the true import of Hello Summer, Goodbye‘s narrative only slowly unfurls as the young man comes of age and perceives more about his world, the world of  Friends Come in Boxes (1973) relentlessly writhes and boils as each main character is compelled to commit a crime Continue reading Book Review: Friends Come in Boxes, Michael G. Coney (1973)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXV (Pangborn + Janifer + Anthology + Biggle, Jr.)

A very odd selection today…  Some Christmas gift card holdovers and one volume I purchased online.  Including Edgar Pangborn’s most famous novel, a bizarre anthology of future artistic visions (with stories by Ellison, Clarke, Effinger, Zelazny, Dickson, Kornbluth, et al.), a collection of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s SF stories on music, and a most likely horrible pulp slave planet rebellion type novel by Laurence M. Janifer.

Thoughts?

1. Davy, Edgar Pangborn (1964)

(Robert Foster’s cover for the 1965 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXV (Pangborn + Janifer + Anthology + Biggle, Jr.)

Book Review: Ice, Anna Kavan (1967)

Ice

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1967 edition)

5/5 (Masterpiece)

“Despairingly she looked all around. She was completely encircled by the tremendous ice walls, which were made fluid by explosions of blinding light, so that they moved and changed with a continuous liquid motion, advancing in torrents of ice, avalanches as bid as oceans, flooding everywhere over the doomed world” (37)

Anna Kavan’s masterful post-apocalyptical novel Ice (1967) parallels the death throws of a relationship with the disintegration of the world.  As the unnamed narrator (N) and the girl (G) traverse an indistinct, interchangeable, world transformed by glacial encroachment, only the same movements are possible: flight, pursuit, flight, pursuit…  Repetition reinforces the profoundly unnerving feel of both physical and mental imprisonment: as movements are predicted, trauma is repeated.

Kavan described her own writings as “‘nocturnal, where dreams and reality merge” (Booth, 69).  In the Continue reading Book Review: Ice, Anna Kavan (1967)