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).
(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)
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)
(John Holmes’ cover for the 1973 edition)
“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)
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.
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.)
(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1967 edition)
“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)
(Patrick Woodroffe’s cover for the 1974 edition of Four for the Future (1969), ed. Harry Harrison)
Here is Part II of my sequence on SF and Skulls (morbid I know): Part I. We have a range of skeletal curios—from Charles Moll’s deconstructed representation of an astronaut in mental and physical decay to Patrick Woodroffe’s heart + skull renegade taxidermy-esque construction arrayed against a joyous psychedelic (blotter paper swirls?) Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Skull, Part II
(Uncredited cover for the 1959 edition)
3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)
C. M. Kornbluth has long been one of my favorite short story authors of the 50s due to his first collection The Explorers (1954). The Marching Morons (1959) contains two novelettes and seven short stories including some of his most famous works: namely, “The Marching Morons” (1951) and my personal favorite of his oeuvre so far, “MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie” (1957).
Ultimately, this is a more uneven collection than The Explorers (1954). Despite duds such as “I Never Ast No Favors” (1954), I still recommend the collection to fans of 50s SF and satirical masterworks such as Kornbluth’s co-authored Continue reading Book Review: The Marching Morons and Other Famous Science Fiction Stories, C. M. Kornbluth (1959)