Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Surrealism of Carlos Ochagavia, Part I

Canvas for the 1977 edition of Universe 7, ed. Terry Carr (1978)

The covers for Pocket Books and Popular Library tend not to scream “visual zeitgeist of the 70s” like the catalogs of DAW, Ace, and Del Rey/Ballantine Books (note 1). But amongst the former’s primarily forgettable stable of artists who are often uncredited (2), a few gems emerge–notably the work of Carlos Ochagavia (1913-2006) (3).

I cannot find more than a few sentences of biographical material on Ochagavia online. He was born in Spain and moved at a young age to Argentina. He arrived in the United States Continue reading Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Surrealism of Carlos Ochagavia, Part I

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLX (Scott Russell Sanders, Charles G. Finney, Gail Kimberly, Anthology of the Best SF of 1980)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. The Unholy City (1937) and The Magician Out of Manchuria (1968), Charles G. Finney

Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1968 edition

From the back cover: “Long out of print, THE UNHOLY CITY is one of the most remarkable novels of fantastic adventures ever written. The nightmare City of Heilar-Wey, with its ghoulish pleasures, its zany riots, and a giant tiger ravening in its streets, is not a nice place to visit—but it’s a delight to read about!

THE MAGICIAN OUT OF MANCHURIA—a new short novel, published here for the first time Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLX (Scott Russell Sanders, Charles G. Finney, Gail Kimberly, Anthology of the Best SF of 1980)

Book Review: The Wind From Nowhere, J. G. Ballard (1962)

Richard Powers’ cover for the 1st edition

3/5 (Average)

In J. G. Ballard’s The Wind From Nowhere (1962), cosmic radiation creates an immense natural disaster. Ever-increasing winds threaten to tear buildings out by their foundations and force the survivors into subterranean caverns. With the winds comes dust, a manifestation of erasure, that lacerates skin and engulfs all.

John Carnell serialized Ballard’s first novel in New Worlds in 1961 (issues 110 and 111). Continue reading Book Review: The Wind From Nowhere, J. G. Ballard (1962)

SF Film Rumination: Chronopolis, dir. Piotr Kamler (1982)

A cabal of immortal beings

8/10 (Very Good)

Piotr Kamler’s SF film Chronopolis (1982) is a hypnotic exercise in sinister science whose imagery is lifted from an archaic stone vault (1). Against an unsettling patina of musique concrète composed by Luc Ferrari, we are plunged into a far future existence where immortal beings ensconced in a celestial city perform apathetic conjurations of matter. An external force, explorers climbing the pillars (?) that hold up the city, presage a deliverance from the languor that afflicts all.

Science as Ritual, Scientist as Priest Continue reading SF Film Rumination: Chronopolis, dir. Piotr Kamler (1982)

Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIX (Gwyneth Jones, Thomas F. Monteleone, Knut Faldbakken, Stefano Benni)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Guardian, Thomas F. Monteleone (1980)

Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1981 edition

From the back cover: “GUARDIAN. There existed nothing like it in the known World. It climbed boldly into the sky, a symbol of the power and imagination of those who had created it…. Varian Hamer stood face to face with a robot. It was not only fantastic—it was impossible. In the known World there were no such things as robots. They had been destroyed, along with everything else, thousands of years before, in what many supposed was Armageddon.

Continue reading Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLIX (Gwyneth Jones, Thomas F. Monteleone, Knut Faldbakken, Stefano Benni)

Book Review: Quake, Rudolph Wurlitzer (1972)

Sandy Kossin’s cover for the 1974 edition

3.75/5 (Good)

Rudolph Wurlitzer’s Quake (1972) parades the traumatized victims of a near-future earthquake through a lust-filled black comedy. Wurlitzer deftly re-purposes the language of erotica for distinctly un-pornographic ends: the aimlessness of life transmutes into a priapic shuffle towards nothing.

Brief Summary

In the near future an earthquake destroys Los Angeles. A nameless transient (N), a recent transplant to the city’s “rituals and corruptions” (3), wakes to a scene of carnage. N stumbles from his cheap cabin, with a bed sheet tied around his waist, towards the hotel pool. Stretched out on the diving board, he observes hotel cabins collapse disgorging the sad dramas playing out within. A woman joins him on the diving board and attempts to converse. He refuses to give his name: “we’re overloaded as it is” (11).

Continue reading Book Review: Quake, Rudolph Wurlitzer (1972)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLVIII (Philip K. Dick, Kit Reed, Kenneth F. Gantz, and a Themed Anthology)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Clans of the Alphane Moon, Philip K. Dick (1964)

Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “Holding a precarious liberty as the result of an interstellar stalemate, the human survivors of Alpha Centauri’s hospital moon readied themselves for their war of independence.

Naturally, the Pares, always suspicious and sunning, assumed the leadership, leaving it to the Manses to provide the super weapons out of their sheer love of violence. Propaganda and other details would have been left to the Skitzes, the Heebs, and Polys, and the Ob-Coms.

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCLVIII (Philip K. Dick, Kit Reed, Kenneth F. Gantz, and a Themed Anthology)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVII (Two themed anthologies on space habitats and sports, Irene Schram, Ralph A. Sperry)

As always which books/covers/authors intrigue you? Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Habitats, ed. Susan Shwartz (1984)

Robert Andre’s cover for the 1st edition

From the back cover: “HABITATS. Where people live determines their cultures and ambitions. What then of times to come: the fabulous days of star flight, the furious days of interplanetary competition, the horrendous days of world disaster, or the weirdly wonderful days of epic changes undreamed of? In this astonishingly original anthology eleven brilliant science fiction writers have created eleven scenes of high adventure in future human habitations.

Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Purchases No. CCLVII (Two themed anthologies on space habitats and sports, Irene Schram, Ralph A. Sperry)

Book Review: Alqua Dreams, Rachel Pollack (1987)

Les Edwards’ cover for the 1st edition

3.75/5 (Good)

“To the Lukai, when a mother bore a child both the mother and child were really dead souls, locked in fake bodies. ‘The child cries,’ the Death Woman told Cooper, “because it still remembers the truth'” (28).

At first glance the mission was like so many others: negotiate with a native people, the Lukai, over a rare resource that facilitates space travel. But Jaimi Cooper is plunged into an ontological nightmare, he is branded as an alqua, “someone who suffers an illusion” (20). According to the Lukai, “you are dead. We are all dead” (27). And as the mythology and its theology come into play, Jaimi Continue reading Book Review: Alqua Dreams, Rachel Pollack (1987)