Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Preliminary note: This is the sixth post in a series of vintage generation ship short fiction reviews. All of the stories I’ll review are available online (see links below). You are welcome to read and discuss along with me as I explore humanity’s visions of generational voyage. And thanks go out to all who have joined already.

Next up: A far lesser known author and story! David Rome’s “Bliss” (1962) in Science Fiction Adventures, No. 24, ed. John Carnell (story link)

Previously: J. G. Ballard’s “Thirteen to Centaurus” (1962) in the April 1962 issue of Amazing Stories, ed. Cele Goldsmith

I’ve compiled a helpful list on the theme with links to all my reviews.

(Charles Schneeman’s cover for the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr.)

4/5 (Good)

A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)* (story link) first appeared in the June 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. Together with two later stories—“Rogue Ship” Continue reading Generation Ship Short Story Review: A. E. van Vogt’s “Centaurus II” (1947)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisition No. CCXXXV (M. A. Foster, Garry Kilworth, Cary Neeper, and Anthology)

1. A fascinating, and disturbing, themed anthology edited by Thomas M. Disch. Of the stories in the anthology (see contents below), I look forward to Gene Wolfe’s “Three Million Square Miles” (1971) the most.

Richard Powers’ cover is gorgeous.

2. I recently read and enjoyed Garry Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978) so I pulled the trigger and purchased a handful of his other early SF works. I’m also for ambivalent takes on revolutions…. In Solitary (1977) is Kilworth’s first published novel. According to  SF Encyclopedia, the novel “is set on an Earth whose few remaining humans have for over 400 years been dominated by birdlike Aliens, and deals with a human rebellion whose moral impact is ambiguous; the novel is the first of several combining generic adventurousness – indeed opportunism, for Kilworth seldom accords his full attention to the raw sf elements in his tales – and an identifiably English dubiety about the roots of human action. Consequences of such action in a Kilworth novel are seldom simple, rarely flattering, usually ironized.”

Will read this one soon.

3. I know little about M. A. Foster’s SF other than a few articles I’ve read here and there–The Gameplayers of Zan (1977) included. In 2009 Jo Walton wrote a positive article about the novel on tor.com.

4. A completely unknown author (Cary Neeper) and novel (A Place Beyond Man)…. I don’t have a lot to go on for this one!

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. The Ruins of Earth: An Anthology of the Immediate Future, ed. Thomas M. Disch (1971)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisition No. CCXXXV (M. A. Foster, Garry Kilworth, Cary Neeper, and Anthology)

Book Review: The Night of Kadar, Garry Kilworth (1978)

(Paul Alexander’s cover for the 1980 edition)

4/5 (Good)

At first glance, Garry Kilworth’s The Night of Kadar (1978) tells the familiar tale of colonization on an alien planet filled with mysterious and hostile forces. Beneath the surface, Kilworth explores the evolution of a religious society separated from its sacred landscape  (the planet Earth) that gave birth to the first followers of the religion. This is an odd novel in the best sense of the word. I’ve discovered few 70s works that tackle Islamic religion and faith (yet alone any religion) in a non-judgmental manner. Continue reading Book Review: The Night of Kadar, Garry Kilworth (1978)

Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

(Chis Foss’ cover for the 1976 French edition of The Inverted World (1974), Christopher Priest)

2019, the tenth year of my site, proved to be a renaissance of sorts. While I managed to read a lot in 2018, I wrote few posts—mostly acquisition and art posts (which take the least effort and time). I have returned, almost, to my earlier levels of productivity and I hope that continues into 2020. Thank you all for reading and commenting be it on the site or on twitter.  It’s greatly appreciated.

And here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2019 Continue reading Updates: My 2019 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

My “to review” pile is growing and my memory of them is fading… hence short—far less analytical—reviews.

1. Mindbridge, Joe Haldeman (1976)

(Josh Kirby’s cover for the 1977 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

Nominated for the 1977 Hugo Award

Joe Haldeman never struck me as an author who experimented with New Wave methods of telling. Mindbridge (1976) shatters my misconception. Imagine the basic plot of his masterpiece The Forever War (1975) combined with a fascinating experimental structure. The latter intrigued me far more than the former.

The Basic Plot: The Levant-Meyer Translation allows humans to instantaneously travel across the galaxy. The Tamer Agency sends its agents to investigate alien worlds. Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Harry Harrison’s Captive Universe (1969), John Christopher’s The Death of Grass (1956), Nancy Kress’ An Alien Light (1987), and Joe Haldeman’s Mindbridge (1976)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

1. In my youth Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels received a privileged place on my shelf. I have yet to explore her other SF in any great detail. The Ship Who Sang (1969) is a fix-up novel of six earlier short fictions from the 60s. I’ve put this one near the top of my to-read list!

2. Another epic series of tales of space exploration from Poul Anderson! I hope it’s better than Tau Zero (1970).

3. A post-apocalyptical novel from Philip Wylie—14 survivors in the bomb shelter of a millionaire. Thoughts on this one?

4. I’ve never cared for Lester del Rey, The only work of his I’ve somewhat enjoyed was The Eleventh Commandment (1962, rev. 1970) as I’m a sucker for overpopulation-themed SF.

Let me know what you think of the books and covers in the comments!

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1. The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey (1969)

(Greg and Tim Hildebrandt’s cover for the 1976 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXXXIV (Anne McCaffrey, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Philip Wylie)

Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)

(Ed Valigursky’s cover for the 1956 edition)

2.5/5 (Bad)

Almost the surprise of the year! E. C. Tubb’s The Space-Born (variant title: Star Ship) (1955) first appeared as a serial in New Worlds (April, May, and June 1955 issues). For American audiences, Tubb’s novel was paired with Philip K. Dick’s The Man Who Japed (1956) as an Ace Double. My only previous exposure to the prolific British author’s SF was “The Seekers” (1965), a paranoid vision of spacemen possessed by delusions of grandeur after their captain’s death. The Space-Born is a fascinating generation ship novel with a catastrophic Continue reading Book Review: The Space-Born, E. C. Tubb (1955)