*preliminary note: I am on something of a semi-hiatus—PhD writing and the like. However, I have a Malzberg review of Scop (1976) nearly complete and might do a rundown of the SF I’ve been unable to review over the past few months in a more informal format (one paragraph reviews or something of that ilk)—Phillip Mann’s Wulfsyan (1990), M. John Harrison’s The Machine in Shaft Ten (1975), etc.
In my recent travels, I stopped in Nashville, Tennessee and picked up three of the four novels for under a dollar each. McIntyre’s novel is the sole Hugo Award Winner for best Novel between the years 1953 to 1990 I’ve not read. I should remedy that immediately as I’ve enjoyed her other work—for example, the novella “Screwtop” (1976).
Budrys’ novel actually sounds like I’d enjoy it despite my dislike of some of his work (and views)…. It certainly is my type of SF story concept-wise. The last Delany novel missing from my collection and everyone loves Wyndham and immortality SF, right?
1. Dreamsnake, Vonda N. McIntyre (1978)
(Stephen Alexander’s cover for the 1978 edition of Dreamsnake) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXXV (Delany + Wyndham + Budrys + McIntyre)
(Keith Roberts’ cover for New Worlds SF, October 1966, ed. Michael Moorcock)
In 1980, 3,000 copies of Charles Platt’s SF novel The Gas (1970)—in which, the “eponymous gas, accidentally released over England, works as an irresistible aphrodisiac […]” and, according to John Clute at SF encyclopedia, contains “sex material” in “transgressively pornographic terms”—were seized by UK’s Director of Public Prosecutions in effect preventing a UK distribution [article].
Platt’s first novel, Garbage World (serialized 1966), feels like The Gas‘s SF juvenile little brother i.e. without the transgressive porn but all the intent to shock a 14 year old boy, although it’s never more than “the warmth of the mud mingled with the warmth of their lovemaking” (95). So, what is this tidbit of effluvia all about? First, the silliest part of the novel—the often scatalogical chapter titles: “Garbage Party” (21), “The Hole” ( 57), “The Yellow Rain” (81), “The Defecated Village” (100), “The Great Purgative Continue reading Book Review: Garbage World, Charles Platt (serialized 1966)
(Art Sussman’s cover for the 1960 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Vaguely Good)
I have long been a fan of both Judith Merril’s fiction and edited volumes. The eponymous novella in the collection Daughters of Earth (1968) is one of more delightful visions from the 1950s I have encountered. Merril reframes biblical patrilineal genealogy as matrilineal–i.e. humankind’s conquest of space is traced via the female descendants of an august progenitor. The story is brilliant in part due to a remarkable metafictional twist, the story itself is compiled from historical documents to serve as an instructional template for future generations of women. Despite substantial editorial control that forced Merril to include a rather hokey plot on two hokey planets, the story remains memorable for the well crafted feminist Continue reading Book Review: Out of Bounds, Judith Merril (1960)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1966 edition)
3.25/5 (collated rating: Good)
Damon Knight’s Orbit anthology series ran from 1966-1976. A while back I reviewed Orbit 8 (1970)–which contained the brilliant Gardner Dozois “Horse of Air” (1970 and a selection of intriguing Wolfe and Lafferty short stories—and was impressed enough to snatch up a copy of Orbit 1 (1966). And it is graced with a Richard Powers cover I had not seen…
Orbit 1 contains nine short works (with four by women authors) and maintains solid quality throughout. None of the stories—other than Sonya Dorman’s dark and terrifying “Slice of Life”—are masterpieces but Keith Roberts, Kate Wilhelm, Richard McKenna, James Blish, and Thomas M. Disch Continue reading Book Review: Orbit 1 (James Blish, Sonya Dorman, Kate Wilhelm, Thomas M. Disch, Richard McKenna, Poul Anderson, Allison Rice, Keith Roberts, Virginia Kidd), ed. Damon Knight (1966)
(John Berkey’s cover for the 1969 edition)
Automated machines rummage through the wreckage of a spaceship—after a battle with the Jillies—gathering the human dead and placing them into cold storage, to be stitched together again for another fight. Absolom Bracer is one of the casualties of Earth and its colonies’ war with the a vaguely known alien foe (the before mentioned Jillies) doing their “damnedest” to “eat up every crumb” of the “apple pie” (as sophisticated as a Richard C. Meredith gets) (192). Captain (eventually Admiral) Bracer of the warship Iwo Jima after his death becomes one the resurrected—“a shiny meter-tall cylinder of metal supporting what was left of the upper torso of a man” (9). What remains are a “few bones, a little living flesh and muscle” and most importantly, “a collection of tangled Continue reading Book Review: We All Died at Breakaway Station, Richard C. Meredith (1969)
Finally, a famous (“Joachim Boaz you will adore it”) fix-up novel by Keith Roberts enters my collection….
Overpopulation SF never gets old—even if I have low expectations about this one.
More Pangborn and a singleton Cherryh novel I had never heard of….
1. A Torrent of Faces, James Blish & Norman L. Knight (1967)
(Diane and Leo Dillon’s cover for the 1968 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CXXVIII (Roberts + Cherryh + Blish + Knight + Pangborn)
(Robert Adragna’s cover for the 1978 edition)
Gordon R. Dickson introduces a medieval tapestry (perhaps The Lady and the Unicorn in Paris’ Musée national du Moyen Âge)—filled with symbolic representations that make up the sum of the world—as the central framing metaphor for The Far Call (1978). Our idealistic young politician main character sees himself and everyone else as “caught up in its pattern” where “countless threads like his own make up the background.” The brighter threads “would be the movers and shakers among the people” yet no one would be more than a single thread (35). Continue reading Book Review: The Far Call, Gordon R. Dickson (serialized 1973, book form 1978)