Tag Archives: space opera

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

(František Muzika, Z Českého ráje V (Ležící torzo), 1944)

František Muzika (1900-1976), a key member of the Czech New Wave scene, created haunting paintings that blended human form with the surrounding landscapes. His painting that heads this post inspired me to collect various science fiction covers (from a mix of English and non-English language presses) that showcase the interlacing of human and landscape — the body (or body parts) as landscape. There are many many many more covers on this theme and perhaps I’ll gather them for a later post. I am torn over my favorite! Leigh Taylor’s cover for the 1967 edition of J.G. Ballard’s The Disaster Area (1967) Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Body as Landscape

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

1) Can’t resist a beautiful Richard Powers cover even on a rather standard 60s anthology of short stories—includes Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Theodore Sturgeon, Wyman Guin, Algis Budrys, etc.

Relevant reviews: Algis Budrys’ collection Budrys’ Inferno (1963) and Wyman Guin’s superb collection Living Way Out (variant title: Beyond Bedlam) (1967).

2) A SF novel by Angela Carter — enough said…

3) One of the great (and lesser read) Soviet dystopias! Can’t wait!

4) Another bargain bin find by John Boyd… with some incredibly hyperbolic cover blurbs on the back about his earlier (and lackluster) novel The Last Starship from Earth (1968).

As always, thoughts/comments are welcome!

1. Beyond, ed. Thomas A. Dardis (1963)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXVIII (Carter + Boyd + Platonov + Anthology with Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, et al.)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Pierre Faucheux’s 1970s covers for La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction (robots, the end of the world, aliens, etc)

(Cover for the 1974 edition of Histoires de robot)

While researching the French SF author Gérard Klein, I discovered that he edited a themed anthology series La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction with Jacques Goimard and Demètre Ioakimidis. This series covered SF stories on themes such as robots, aliens, machines, the galactic, the end of the world, time travel, etc. If you’re curious about the contents of any of the volumes in my post check out the handy Internet Speculative Fiction Database listing.

The famous French typographer, graphic artist, urbanist, and architect Pierre Faucheux—who worked primarily for the publishers Club Français du Livre and Le Livre de Poche—created the covers for Klein, Goimard, and Ioakimidis’ SF anthology series. And they are a varied and fascinating bunch…

I am not convinced I like all of them — but the 1974 edition of Histoires de machines, the 1974 edition of Histoires de fins du monde, and the 1975 edition of Histoires de voyages dans le temps certainly appeal to my artistic Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Pierre Faucheux’s 1970s covers for La grande anthologie de la Science-Fiction (robots, the end of the world, aliens, etc)

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

Book Review: New Writings in SF 9, ed. John Carnell (1972) (Harrison + Coney + Sellings + King + et al.)

nwwrsnsf651972

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1972 edition)

3/5 (collated rating: Average)

An imaginary question I received: “Why do you read anthologies cover to cover?” I love discovering new authors and those I was aware existed but haven’t read—with New Writings in SF 9 (1972) the following fall into this bipartite category: Joseph Green, Paul Corey, Arthur Sellings, Vincent King, R. W. Mackelworth, and Eddy C. Bertin.

Of the bunch, I will probably only remember Vincent King’s vision of the angst as the exploration of the entire galaxy nears completion… Both authors whom I know far better produce the best of the collection.  Michael G. Coney’s haunting tale of evolutionary dependency and M. John Harrison account of paranoia and guilt over the massacre of mysterious aliens are worth the read. Too bad the three above were never anthologized outside of John Carnell’s New Writings series!

Overall New Writings in SF 9 is superior to New Writings in SF 4 (1965) but probably only satisfying for Coney and Harrison completists….

Note: this title refers to the 1972 US publication which was a best of earlier volumes. Another volume by the same name was published in 1966 in the Continue reading Book Review: New Writings in SF 9, ed. John Carnell (1972) (Harrison + Coney + Sellings + King + et al.)

Book Review: Budrys’ Inferno (variant title: The Furious Future), Algis Budrys (1963)

bdrysnfrn081963

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1963 edition)

3.5/5 (Collated rating: Good)

Algis Budrys has not fared particularly well on this site. Back in 2012 I read The Falling Torch (1959) and found it a functional military SF novel with some social commentary about the “inhumanity” of the Soviets. More recently I tackled his so-called “masterpiece” Michaelmas (serialized 1976) (short review) that despite all its pretensions to say something relevant about technology and media, slips into SF thriller mode, abandoning the most compelling elements of the narrative (it’s hard to write a convincing character study). At least Michaelmas makes the motions towards SF that moves behind the mechanical blueprints of a potential future mindset and tries to say something substantive about the psyche and society of the people who might live there. As you know, Continue reading Book Review: Budrys’ Inferno (variant title: The Furious Future), Algis Budrys (1963)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)

1) I made a “resolution” to read more John Sladek — miserable covers aside. Now what is that spaceman doing standing next the elephant? Although Sladek is rather on the surreal/comical end of things, Peter Goodfellow took the surreal title literally. Not his finest artistic moment. Now if only I could convince myself to put together my disperate thoughts on The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970) into something cohesive.

2) Although New Worlds editor supreme” Michael Moorcock’s novels haven’t not received the warmest reception on my site, I am determined to get a better sense of his fiction by exploring his short work. And this collection seems fantastic! It’s illustrated, there’s a comic strip (image below), and the Savoy Books publication includes tons of fascinating blurbs about other books both speculative and non-genre.

See my reviews of An Alien Heat (1972) and The Ice Schooner (1969).

The title page of the Jerry Cornelius comic.

jerry-cornelius-comic

3) A lesser known James White novel… Only printed in the UK.

James White is one of THE finds of the last few years. Best known for simple but earnest (and pacifistic) 50s stories about doctors solving alien medical problems, his novels demonstrate surprising power. A reader and frequent commentator (see I listen!) suggested I procure one of his late 70s novels unknown to me. I cannot wait to read it.

See my reviews of The Dream Millennium (1973), All Judgement Fled (1968), and The Watch Below (1966).

4) I recently discussed Emma Tennant’s work and how she was influenced by the UK SF scene (Ballard et al) here. Yes, I showed my inner academic by citing a few articles — many fans don’t realize that there’s serious and fascinating academic study of the genre. And, as literary historians are wont to do, they provide (often) relevant and erudite analysis of development of genre etc. I would pull more in if time allowed.  I am currently reading Tennant’s novel and it’s intriguing so far!

Scans are from my own collection (in order to zoom in on the zany madness, click on the image).

I look forward to your comments/thoughts!

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLXXII (Moorcock + Tennant + Sladek + White)