I was kindly asked by Andrea over at The Little Red Reviewer to submit an article for SF Signal’s Mind Meld feature (she is also one of their editors). Along with a cross section of other bloggers/authors and the like, I discussed the range and variety an author’s less famous backlist might have and how it can be a minefield of unrealized potential and financial obligations (think of what John Brunner was writing in the same year as Stand on Zanzibar!). I wrote about Barry N. Malzberg [original link here]—I am the last contributor.
For those who do not visit SF Signal I have decided to put it on my site as well.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Backlists can be unnerving places. Like the vibrations of residual sounds that gather across the urban landscape in Ballard’s “The Sound-Sweep” (1960), the lists themselves resonate both discordant and dulcet—a deluge of aborted passions, financial desires, experimental tendencies not yet crystalline. Although Clifford D. Simak might produce a Cosmic Engineers (1950), he also invoked a most extraordinary allegorical worldscape in Why Call Them Back from Heaven? (1967) where the promise of immortality (undelivered) causes irrevocable transformations—the living live through life without living waiting for a resurrection where they can finally live. Robert Silverberg might shift entirely, as if on whim, from old-fashioned SF adventure where young Heinlein-esque space boys look for those “cool artifacts that do great things” in Across a Billion Years (1969) to The Man in the Maze (1969), a restless and uneasy rumination on pariahism and filled with delusions of self-martyrdom and all those other uncomfortable emotions we try so Continue reading Update: My short article on the topic of “All About the Backlist” for SF Signal’s Mind Meld→
Part I of II. Thankful to have a fiancé who takes my massive, alphabetized, master list of used SF to acquire and wades through the dusty shelves of used book stores (while on a trip home to visit her family)… Here are some gems. More Zelazny (short story collection!), another Silverberg collection (he holds the crown for author most reviewed on Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations), an unknown quantity by Cooper, and the final novel I needed to round out the Alastor Cluster “trilogy” by Jack Vance.
Thoughts on the purchases? Have you read any of them?
1. The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth and Other Stories, Roger Zelazny (1971)
A nice mix with some gorgeous Powers’ covers—some 30s + 50s pulp, three novellas in one of only a handful of female SF author anthologies ever published, and another John Brunner novel for my extensive collections (it’s an expanded novel from one of his earlier pulp works, hopefully he improved the original version).
1. After Worlds Collide, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer (1933)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)
From the back cover: “When the group of survivors from Earth landed on Bronson Beta, they expected absolute desolation. This Earth-like planet from another universe had been hurtling through space, cold and utter darkness for countless millennia. All life should have perished millions of years ago. But the Earth-people found a breathtakingly beautiful city, encased in a huge, transparent metal bubble; magnificent apartments filled with every luxury; food for a lifetime in the vast, empty kitchens; but with no trace either of life—or death. Then the humans learned they were not alone on Bronson Beta…” Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCIX (Vinge + Randall + McIntyre + Wylie + Brunner + Sohl)→
I while back I put out a call for SF novels/short works on immortality to add to a preliminary list I put together. Due to my lack of knowledge of newer SF and uncanny ability to forget relevant previously read works I eagerly added your suggestions. And Marta Randall’sIslands(1976) motivated me to finally post it…
“And there is light, before and beyond our vision, for which we give thanks. And there is heat, for which we are humble. And there is power, for which we count ourselves blessed. Blessed be Balmer, who gave us wavelengths. Blessed be Bohr, who brought us understanding. Blessed be Lyman, who saw beyond sight. Tell us now the stations of the spectrum […]” (3).
Robert Silverberg’s To Open the Sky (1967) is an enjoyable pulp future history with a somewhat “different” premise–religion will be the main force that facilitates mankind’s exploration of the stars. In his intro of 1978 edition he discusses how the project came about. In the early 60s Frederik Pohl became his editor and allowed him to published, for the first time, SF “for love rather than money” (II). Up to this point Silverberg had never attempted, other than in the briefest sketch form, to extrapolate an entire future history à la Olaf Stapleton or Isaac Asimov. Silverberg’s vision is nowhere as complex Continue reading Book Review: To Open the Sky, Robert Silverberg (1967)→
Everyone likes lists! And I do too…. This is an opportunity to collate some of my favorite (and least favorite) novels and shorter SF works I read this year. Last year I discovered Barry N. Malzberg and this year I was seduced by…. Well, read and find out.
Top Ten Novels
1. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1976): A scathing, and underread, literary SF novel by one of the more important feminist SF writers of the 70s (of The Female Man fame).
2. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975): A well-written anthropological clash of cultures novel. Slow, gorgeous, emotionally engaging….