Tag Archives: pulp

Book Review: Bedlam Planet, John Brunner (1968)

(Jeff Jones’ cover for the 1968 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

To move past my variegated obsessions regarding William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat (1976) (review + list of imaginary scientific articles), I decided to reread a lesser known John Brunner novel. I cannot pinpoint exactly when I first read Bedlam Plant (1968), other than before I started my site, but it holds up as a moody biological mystery with mythological undertones as colonists confront their deceptive new world.

This isn’t Stand on Zanzibar (1968), Shockwave Rider (1975), The Sheep Look Up (1972), or The Jagged Orbit (1969), but it left me wishing that Brunner applied his Continue reading Book Review: Bedlam Planet, John Brunner (1968)

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

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

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(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

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction)

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(Cover for Fiction, #228 (1972), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

In the 60s and 70s the covers for Fiction—“the leading journal of science fiction and fantasy in France” until its cancellation in 2015—were characterized by simple color schemes punctuating by often delicate line work. Working within these strictures (I suspect to cut back on printing costs), a handful of artists pop out from the herd: Jean-Claude Forest, Philippe Curval, Wojtek Siudmak, Philippe Caza….

….and the mysterious Lacroix about which I can find little online. If anyone knows more about him, or if it’s a pseudonym for another artist, let me know!

I’ve included slightly more than half of Lacroix’s total SF art credits and two of them in particular resonate with me: Fiction, #228 (1972) (above) and Fiction, #197 (1970) (below). In the former the eyes staring out of the robotic body exudes horror and existential terror. And the mechanical body descends into some more sprawling contraption, losing its human form Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction)

Book Review: The Resurrectionist, Gary K. Wolf (1979)

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(Margo Herr’s cover for the 1979 edition)

2.75/5 (Vaguely Average)

“Corporate authorities referred to him instead as the Resurrectionist, the man who dragged the living back from electrical purgatory” (5)

Gary K. Wolf, best known for Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981), started his writing career with three SF novels for Doubleday—Killerbowl (1975), A Generation Removed (1977), and The Resurrectionist (1979). Doubleday’s art director, Margo Herr, provided The Resurrectionist‘s captivating cover, which suggests the corruption of pattern, the subversion of delicate movement. A few reflective, but altogether too fleeting, moments suggest Wolf might have had similar ideas at the back Continue reading Book Review: The Resurrectionist, Gary K. Wolf (1979)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXI (Silverberg + Lafferty + Sterling + Nolan)

1) William F. Nolan, best known for Logan’s Run (1967) (film adaptation 1976), was also a prolific short story author. As with my acquisition of Thomas N. Scortia’s collection The Best of Thomas N. Scortia (1981) a while back, I am hoping that a range of short stories might be the best way to approach an author new to me.

*wince*–> My edition has a miserable Chris Foss clone (Tony Roberts) cover!

2) As many R. A. Lafferty novels cost a pretty penny, I now buy them on sight if they are within my price range. I posted recently on Mati Klarwein’s fantastic covers–> here. My high resolution scan should convey the complexity and skill of the art!

3) Silverberg collections fall under the purchase compulsively category. I’ve read two or three from this particular volume already including the wonderful “How It Was When the Past Went Away” (1969).

4) A while back a reader recommended Bruce Sterling’s The Artificial Kid (1980). My wife saw a well-worn copy at a local Half Price Books and procured it for me. I read numerous Sterling works from the late 80s and 90s back when I consumed “newer” SF. I reviewed his first novel a few months ago—Involution Ocean (1977).

The cover is awful. The 1980s aesthetic pains me…

All images are scans from my own collection (click image to zoom).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome.

1. Wonderworlds, William F. Nolan (1977 )

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(Tony Roberts’ cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXI (Silverberg + Lafferty + Sterling + Nolan)