Tag Archives: space opera

Book Review: Tau Zero, Poul Anderson (1970)

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(Anita Siegel’s cover for the 1970 edition)

3/5 (Average)

Nominated for the 1971 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970) exemplifies the type of SF I no longer enjoy.  A younger me would have gobbled up the magical phrases: A Bussard Interstellar Ramjet! Disaster in space! Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity!

At one point Anderson’s adventure-heavy SF formed my bread and butter.  Over the years I’ve reviewed thirteen of his novels and short story collections, most recently in 2013 — There Will Be Time (1972), Brain Wave (1953), and Time and Stars (1964).   I have sat on this review for months in a state of indecision debating whether or not to insert my sharpened awl into the novel’s brittle hide so repeatedly tattooed with the Continue reading Book Review: Tau Zero, Poul Anderson (1970)

Short Book Reviews: Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside (1972), Universe 2, ed. Terry Carr (1972), and Avram Davidson’s The Enemy of My Enemy (1966)

Here are three short reviews.  Either I waited too long to review the work or in the case of the short story collection, the handful of poor stories (amongst the many gems) faded from memory and I couldn’t convince myself to reread them…

I apologize for the brevity and lack of analysis.  My longer reviews definitely try to get at the greater morass of things but hopefully these will still whet your palette if you haven’t read the works already.

1. Dying Inside, Richard Silverberg (1972)

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(Jerry Thorp’s cover for the 1972 ediiton)

5/5 (Masterpiece) Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside (1972), Universe 2, ed. Terry Carr (1972), and Avram Davidson’s The Enemy of My Enemy (1966)

Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Futuristic Cities of Lima de Freitas, Part I

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(Cover for the 1967 edition of vol. 1 of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1965), Robert A. Heinlein)

The Portuguese painter and illustrator Lima de Freitas (1927-1998) created a vast number of covers for the Portuguese press Livros do Brasil.  For more on the range of art he produced in his career consult his wikipedia page [here].

A while back I reviewed Mordecai Roshwald’s Level 7 (1959) and discovered de Freitas’ amazing cover (below).  More than any of the US editions, it evokes the claustrophobic tone of the novel (and even some of the surreal elements).

As the son of two architects, architecturally inclined SF covers always fascinate. Thus, as an introduction to his art (if you do not know it already) I have collected a handful of his cityscapes.  They are surreal masterpieces.  Lima de Freitas’ covers emphasize the city as a canvas, the textures of human Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Futuristic Cities of Lima de Freitas, Part I

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVII (Sturgeon + Sheckley + Scortia + Mannes)

I can’t pass up a Sheckley collection!

Nor can I pass up a rather unknown “discovered manuscript” type 1960s feminist dystopia by Marya Mannes.  She wrote for Vogue and The New Yorker over her career….

Nor can I pass up a Sturgeon collection (perhaps I will appreciate his more radical SF short stories?)….

And finally, a best of collection by an author who might not be worth exploring, but, sometimes short stories give a better impression of an author’s capabilities than a novel-length work.

As always, thoughts/observations/comments are welcome!

1. They, Marya Mannes (1968)

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(Stanley Zuckerberg’s cover for the 1970 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLVII (Sturgeon + Sheckley + Scortia + Mannes)

Updates: Additions to My Incomplete List of Worthwhile Classic Science Fiction Blogs/Resources

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(José Cruz’s cover for The Traveling Soul (1978), Hugh C. Rae; Carl Lundgren’s cover for Weeping May Tarry (1978), Raymond F. Jones and Lester del Rey)

Around three years ago I put together a list of sites and resources that exerted an appealing gravitational pull…. drawing me into their SF depths.  And it is time to add to the list!  If you haven’t seen the original and you like my site I recommend checking it out.

Unfortunately, a few from the original list have gone defunct or are on hiatus.  I will echo (and amend) my earlier call to arms!

“I love the idea of a community of science fiction reviewers–so I’ve put together a list of a handful of book review blogs focused on classic/slightly more esoteric science fiction.  Obviously there are plenty of great sites I’ve omitted that focus on new releases or visit vintage science fiction only occasionally….  Or, blogs that refrain from reviews of vintage science fiction unless participating in certain reading challenges….

Please visit them, comment on their reviews, and browse through their back catalogues.”

1. From Couch to Moon: Megan’s site focuses on classic SF (in addition to worthwhile read-throughs of newer award slates etc).  What perhaps delights me the most, other than her voracious SF passion and intellect that shows through in every review, are her stylistic pastiches—for example, her review of John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968) in his style: “This is sensory overload. Polemics in the form of ADHD. Part oracle, part Anarchist Cookbook. A graduate of The Space Merchants Academy, hold the cheese.”

A sample of her reviews: a mini-flash paragraph Continue reading Updates: Additions to My Incomplete List of Worthwhile Classic Science Fiction Blogs/Resources

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLII (Silverberg + Reed + Robinson + Reamy)

More Kit Reed! I enjoyed both her first short story collection Mister Da Vi (1967) and first SF novel Armed Camps (1969).  I was impressed enough to track down another—and as she has informed me via twitter “rare”—collection.  Rare enough that she does not even own a copy!

Fresh off Tom Reamy’s dark and wonderful Blind Voices (1978), I thought it would be best to explore some of his early short fiction.

There’s nothing wrong with another Robert Silverberg collection from his heyday (late 60s-70s), although, I have read at least two of the thirteen stories in the collection already.

Frank M. Robinson in the early 90s jumped back on the SF scene with the well-received generation ship novel The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991).  More involved with editing over the decades, he published in the 70s a series of famous thrillers with Thomas N. Scortia.  I found a copy of his first novel, The Power (1956), although, the presence of telepathy (my least favorite SF theme?) makes me less than enthused.

Three of the four following books came via Mike at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature and Tongues of Speculation—he visited Uncle Hugo’s in Minneapolis and sent me 10 (!!) books I had on my “to acquire” list.

Thoughts and comments are welcome (as always!).

1. Unfamiliar Territory, Robert Silverberg (1973)

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(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLII (Silverberg + Reed + Robinson + Reamy)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)

Prepare for a glut of “Recent Science Fiction Acquisition” posts!

From my recent travels and a gift from a friend (@SFPotpourri)….

Michael G. Coney is an odd bird.  If you’re curious what I might mean, check out my reviews of Friends Come in Boxes (1973) and Hello Summer, Goodbye (variant title: Rax) (1975).  In short, I had to procure a short story collection!

Chad Oliver, an early proponent of anthropological SF, intrigues yet frustrates—I need to read more than The Shores of Another Sea (1971) to come to a firm conclusion about his fiction.

And Kate Wilhelm, my views are firmly established — in the spring of last year I put together a Kate Wilhelm guest post series.  Check it out!  I’ve posted reviews for the following: her early collection (for fans of 50s SF only) The Mile-Long Spaceship (1963), her spectacular collection with numerous award-winning stories (for fans of experimental SF) The Downstairs Room and Other Speculative Fiction (1968), her solid SF + psychological horror novel Margaret and I (1971), and her even better novel Juniper Time (1979).

And New Dimensions IV (1974), an anthology edited by Silverberg—with a story from one of the unsung SF greats, David R. Bunch.  I have discussed but not reviewed his collection Moderan (1972).  I placed it on my top 10 SF works (pre-1980) for inclusion in the Gollancz Masterwork series list.  And, has anyone read Felix C. Gotschalk?  It contains two stories by this unknown (at least to me) author.  An overall fantastic lineup (Malzberg, Lafferty, Dozois, Bunch, etc.)….

Thoughts? comments?

[does anyone know the artist for the Silverberg edited anthology?]

1. Monitor Found in Orbit, Michael G. Coney (1974)

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(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1974 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CLI (Wilhelm + Oliver + Coney + Anthology)