Tag Archives: space opera

Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Dear readers, thank you all profusely for your comments, words of thanks, and emails over the year. It is my overarching goal to inspire you all to read more SF from the 50s-70s, dust off the boxes of your parents’ books in some forgotten closet, browse the shelves at your local used book store (or favorite online store), reflect on the often fascinating cover art…

2016 was not the most productive reading/reviewing year as my PhD dissertation defense date rapidly approaches. For the purposes of maintaining my sanity, reading and writing about SF remains my primary relaxation hobby—surprising perhaps as I read a lot of depressing SF that wouldn’t be “relaxing” for most people. According to Megan at From Couch to Moon I like my fiction “moody, broody, meta, and twisted.”

And other than a few satires here and there, my favorite SF reads of 2016 fit firmly within Megan’s descriptors.

Thanks again!

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Best novels

  1. The Affirmation, Christopher Priest (1981)
  2. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (variant title: The War of Dreams), Angela Carter (1972). Review forthcoming 
  3. The Dream Millennium, James White (serialized 1973, novel 1974)
  4. The Committed Men, M. John Harrison (1971)

Continue reading Updates: 2016 in Review (best novels + best short stories + best anthologies + notable posts)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVIII (Disch + Vance + Dick + Watson)

There is no better way to celebrate the New Year than with a pile of vintage SF acquisitions!

You might notice the predominance over the coming weeks of UK publishers (Pan, Granada, Panther)—the images correspond to my editions. I acquired nine via a “secret” UK pipeline for a mere $3.50 each (with shipping) as a gift from my wife. Cue bad Chris Foss copycat (Tony Roberts and his ilk) covers. The disconnect between Thomas M. Disch’s 334 (1972) and the Tony Roberts spaceship pains me.

The books: A lesser known Ian Watson novel. Anyone know the cover artist? His short fiction inspires: A Very Slow Time Machine (1979). I found Jonah Kit (1975) worthwhile although I never reviewed it.

A Jack Vance novel that explores the nature of language…

A collection of early PKD stories. I’ve read the majority of his short fiction in my omnibus collections of his work but it might be worth the reread.

And finally, what I am most excited about, Disch’s best known collection of thematically linked short fiction….

Enjoy! As always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

1. Alien Embassy, Ian Watson (1977)

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(Uncredited cover for the 1979 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVIII (Disch + Vance + Dick + Watson)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVII (Smith + Harrison + French SF Anthology + New Writings in SF Anthology)

Goodies!

Including a Richard Powers’ cover that might be among my favorites as it has a delightful architectural feel…. Do you have a favorite Powers?

I must fill the hole that is my lack of knowledge about Cordwainer Smith.  A source of many arguments!

Rachel S. Cordasco recently reviewed three stories by French women SF authors pre-1969 and I decided to track down the same collection.  And yes, the back cover is filled with purple prose… Plus hilarious back cover font which I will feature in a SF cover art post in the near future.

And another John Carnell anthology in his New Writings in SF series.  I featured the artist a few months ago here.

All the covers are scans of my own copies — if you click on the images you can see them in high resolution.

Enjoy!

1. Bill, The Galactic Hero, Harry Harrison (1964)harrison-bill-the-galactic-hero

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVII (Smith + Harrison + French SF Anthology + New Writings in SF Anthology)

Guest Post: Cyborgs and Intergalactic Freight Transport: “No Woman Born” (1944), C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959), Anne McCaffrey

The scholarly and widely published Kate Macdonald (twitter), a Professor of English Literature and currently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Reading, provides the fifth guest post in my SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 series (original announcement and list of earlier posts). I recommend browsing her eponymous blog—she recently interviewed the SF author Elizabeth Moon on her collaborations with Anne MacCaffrey and reviews literature and SF (including Iraq + 100. Stories from a Century After the Invasion (2013), ed. Hassan Blasim and the famous post-apocalyptical novel The Long Tomorrow (1955) by Leigh Brackett).

Her post focuses on two of the best known SF women authors from the pre-1969 era: C.L. Moore and Anne McCaffrey.

Cyborgs! Intergalactic Freight Spaceships!

Find copies!

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(“No Woman Born” first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1944, cover: William Timmins)

Review of “No Woman Born” (1944) by C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959) by Anne McCaffrey

By Kate Macdonald

I teach sf to university students, and knew from the critical literature about gender in sf that sometime in the 1940s a writer called C. L. Moore published a landmark story about the first female cyborg. I tracked down a copy of ‘No Continue reading Guest Post: Cyborgs and Intergalactic Freight Transport: “No Woman Born” (1944), C.L. Moore and “Lady in the Tower” (1959), Anne McCaffrey

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVI (Saxton + Harrison + Whiteley + New Worlds Anthology)

Procuring SF paperbacks never gets old! I have started scanning in the covers (two of the four below) in order to provide higher quality images (click to zoom)— especially if they are hard to find images online and/or I find them aesthetically pleasing (Powers + Lehr in this post).

Let me know if the change is worth it!

Book rundown:

Josephine Saxton: Despite reading The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969) years ago, my mind still traces the imprint of its strange ritualistic beauty . Her short fiction was published in a range of SF magazines and collections from 1965 to 1992.  I have tracked down a copy of her first collection. Despite its 1985 publication date, eight of the fourteen stories were published in the 60s/70s.

Harry Harrison: A “classic” author whose work I need to explore more: I’ve read Deathworld (1960), attempted to read Make Room! Make Room! (1966) and A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah (1972) at least three times, and Lifeship (1976), which he co-wrote with Gordon R. Dickson. I’ve encountered his short fiction here and there and found “By The Falls” (1970) a satisfying New Wave endeavor. Time for more short fiction!

New Worlds Anthology: I want all of them, end of story.

And finally, the selection bound to surprise and confuse my regular readers…. Aliya Whiteley: Despite my various protestations, I have not stopped reading new SF entirely.  And I couldn’t resist finding a copy of Whiteley’s well-received  fungal nightmare…. If you’re curious see Jesse’s review over at Speculiction.

1. Prime Number, Harry Harrison (1970)

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(Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXVI (Saxton + Harrison + Whiteley + New Worlds Anthology)

Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories by Soviet Women Authors Pre-1969: “The Useless Planet” (1967), Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960), Valentina Zhuravlyova, “Life Space” (1969), Marietta Chudakova

The third guest post in my series SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 (original announcement and list of earlier posts) comes via Kaggsy (you can follow her on twitter), the proprietor extraordinaire of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings. A connoisseur of Russian literature (among other things) and a long-time commentator on the site, I got wind of her interest in Soviet SF reading her review of Kirill Bulychev’s collection Half a Life (1975, trans. 1977) and her acquisition posts of various Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow editions — Alexei Tolstoi’s Aelita (1923) and Destination: Amaltheia (1963), ed. Richard Dixon (image below).

Her post focuses on stories by three Soviet Women SF authors — Olga Larionova, Marietta Chudakova, and Valentina Zhuravlyova.  One story is from the cutoff date of 1969.

Enjoy!

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(Valentina Zhuravlyova’s “The Astronaut” can be found in Destination: Amaltheia, ed. Richard Dixon (1963), Cover: Nikolai Grishin)

Review of “The Useless Planet” (1967) by Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960) by Valentina Zhuravlyova, and “Life Space” 1969) by Marietta Chudakova

By Kaggsy

When I was approached by Joachim with a view to writing about three favourite short stories written by women writers pre-1969, I confess I did think twice. Although I’ve dipped in and out of sci fi over the years, specifically short stories and specifically written by women isn’t a demographic that necessarily fits Continue reading Guest Post: Three SF Short Stories by Soviet Women Authors Pre-1969: “The Useless Planet” (1967), Olga Larionova, “The Astronaut” (1960), Valentina Zhuravlyova, “Life Space” (1969), Marietta Chudakova

Book Review: The Metallic Muse, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1972)

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(Ed Nuckolls’ cover for the 1972 edition)

3.5/5 (collated rating: Good)

Over the years I’ve collected quite a few of Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s SF novels and collections but have not read any of his work since late 2011 when I reviewed The Light That Never Was (1972). Mike’s mostly positive review of his short stories in The Metallic Muse (1972) reminded me of my lack of knowledge of Biggle, Jr.’s strange brand of relatively breezy but earnest SF.  And due to an unnatural aggregation of cosmic particles, our ratings align with unnerving precision.

Many of the stories in The Metallic Muse center around the transformative power of music and art: for example, a song calls space orphans back home in “Orphan of the Void”; an artist dares to create non-commercial music in “The Tunesmith”; TV keeps the masses in line in “Well of the Deep Wish”; and a robotic violin teacher deprives a professor of his students in “Spare the Rod.”  Lloyd Biggle, Jr.’s ebullient style of telling sometimes trivializes and simplifies the heady themes, but his inventiveness Continue reading Book Review: The Metallic Muse, Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (1972)