Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVIII (Mary Gentle, Philip Wylie, Bruce Sterling, and a New Dimensions anthology)

1. More post-apocalyptic fictions…. I dunno about exclamation points in titles! More seriously, I’ve yet to read any of Philip Wylie’s novels—this one is at the top of the list.

2. Before I explore an author’s best known fictions, I enjoy nosing about the periphery first. Here’s Mary Gentle’s first collection of short fiction (I’m most interested in the SF stories).

3. I might have read Bruce Sterling’s Islands in the Net (1988) in my late teens. I know I had a copy that I gave away. I can’t remember anything about it other than the cover–if there’s a cover that screams 80s cyberpunk it’s that one!

I’ve previously reviewed Sterling’s Involution Ocean (1977).

A little research reveals the female figure was repurposed (sans the original spaceship background) from an earlier Luis Royo cover—Mike Resnick’s The Dark Lady: A Romance of the Far Future (1988) (cover link).

4. I adored Robert Silverberg’s original anthology New Dimensions 2 (1973) — I’m a bit closer to owning the entire series.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Tomorrow!, Philip Wylie (1954)

(Uncredited cover for the 1954 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVIII (Mary Gentle, Philip Wylie, Bruce Sterling, and a New Dimensions anthology)

Book Review: Dance The Eagle To Sleep, Marge Piercy (1970)

(Uncredited cover for the 1st edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

In the turbulent 1960s, the radical socialist Students for a Democratic Society (1960-1974) were one of the most influential organizations in the nascent New Left. SDS’s 1962 political manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, proclaimed in idealized terms the importance of egalitarianism, participatory democracy, labor rights, Civil Rights, and nuclear disarmament.  Marge Piercy (1935-) wrote her first SF novel Dance The Eagle to Sleep (1970) while working as an organizer with the SDS regional office in New York (biography). In the last years of the 60s, while she was writing the novel, she describes SDS devolving into “warring factions” and her own personal disillusionment as  the Vietnam War raged on.

In this context, Dance The Eagle To Sleep (1970) can be read as the rise and fall—intense, ecstatic, meaningful, tempestuous—of an SDS-esque student-driven movement (The Indians) in a near-future totalitarian America. Piercy follows a cast of characters whose paths, visions, and routes to revolutionary activity differ. As the movement is beset by external and internal Continue reading Book Review: Dance The Eagle To Sleep, Marge Piercy (1970)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVII (Candas Jane Dorsey, Michael Elder, Garry Kilworth, Sterling E. Lanier)

1. Sterling E. Lanier is best known for Hiero’s Journey (1973), which I procured in 2012 but haven’t yet read. Here’s the second of his singleton novels—Menace Under Marswood (1983). SF Encyclopedia describes it as “tamely repeat[ing]” (SF Encyclopedia) material from his earlier novels.

I’m a fan of the Darrell K. Sweet cover! Especially the mysterious creature decked out in scepter, robe, and hat.

darrell k. sweet Menace Under Marswood

(Darrell K. Sweet’s original canvas for the 1st edition)

2. A discussion on twitter about female authors of cyberpunk yielded a name unfamiliar to me — Candas Jane Dorsey. I procured a collection of her best known short fictions, which “polemically re-use and rework sf and fantasy tropes from a Feminist perspective, engaging most memorably, and fascinatedly [sic], in the title story of the first volume, “(Learning About) Machine Sex”, with the phallocentrism of much Cyberpunk” (SF Encyclopedia). Count me in!

3. My Garry K. Kilworth exploration series continues with Gemini God (1981). I must confess my enthusiasm has waned a bit after I read In Solitary (1977). See my review of The Night of Kadar (1978) for what he’s capable of.

4. This cover…. the gauze… the sheen…. the cheesiness. Explorations of media in SF is always something I gravitate towards—even when “graced” which such dismal artist failures.

Haven’t read anything by Michael Elder. I do not have high hopes!

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. Menace Under Marswood, Sterling E. Lanier (1983) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVII (Candas Jane Dorsey, Michael Elder, Garry Kilworth, Sterling E. Lanier)

Short Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany’s The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965), Barry N. Malzberg’s The Last Transaction (1977), and Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1966)

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

1. The Ballad of Beta-2, Samuel R. Delany (1965)

(Vincent Di Fate’s cover for the 1982 edition)

3.25/5 (Vaguely Good)

As I’ve been on a generation ship kick as of late, I was excited to pull out my copy of Samuel R. Delany’s early novel The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965). Delany subverts the standard (and infuriating) trope of cultural stasis—for the sake of societal stability—that authors suggest will occur between the colony ship’s departure and arrival. Instead, Delany explores the intermediary generations by examining a series of ballads Continue reading Short Book Reviews: Samuel R. Delany’s The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965), Barry N. Malzberg’s The Last Transaction (1977), and Philip McCutchan’s A Time for Survival (1966)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVI (Michel Jeury, Sheila MacLeod, Vietnam War anthology, The Year 2000 anthology)

1. I’m a sucker for themed anthologies! Especially of original stories… This one is on the top of my list to read!

2. The lengths the cover blurb goes to proclaim Sheila MacLeod’s Circuit-Breaker (1978) not SF is humorous. The blurb writer ends up describing the aim of New Wave science fiction (interior vs. exterior space). So many of these arguments demonstrate a lack of knowledge of genre and depends on dismissive stereotypes. As it my practice, I try to avoid these exclusionary/gate-keeping arguments. I recently picked up a copy of her only other SF novel Xanthe and the Robots (1977).

Curious about this one — and all SF about potentially insane astronauts.

A handful of favorite stories of (possibly) insane astronauts

Barry N. Malzberg’s Beyond Apollo (1972), The Falling Astronauts(1971), and Revelations (1972)

Gene Wolfe’s “Silhouette” (1975)

3. Another themed anthology! The topic here is the Vietnam War. Huge fan of Vietnam War inspired SF — especially Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest (1972) and Kit Reed’s Armed Camps (1969).

What are your favorite Vietnam War-themed SF works? I’m thinking of putting together a resource on the topic.

4. French SF in translation. Here’s Michel Jeury’s bibliography. This appears to be the only one of his MANY SF novels to be translated into English. Alas.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

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1. The Year 2000, ed. Harry Harrison (1970)

(Pat Steir’s cover for the 1st edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLVI (Michel Jeury, Sheila MacLeod, Vietnam War anthology, The Year 2000 anthology)

Book Review: Candy Man, Vincent King (1971)

(Patrick Woodroffe’s cover art for the 1973 edition)

3.5/5 (Good)

The Candy Man wanders from place to place in a crumbling mega-city with his sole companion, a mechanical dog named Wolf who comes with a handy handle. Candy Man instigates the lobotomized, with primal speeches and drugged sugar floss tinted with pulverized beetles, to revolution. His reward for turning in those he encouraged deviate from the will of the Deep Machine and their Teachers? Vials of drugs. Enter the hypnagogic world of Vincent King’s Candy Man (1971), an unsettled landscape inhabited by the degenerate remnants of humankind and the arcane workings of a computer program that cannot escape its original perimeters.

Fresh off Vincent King’s short story “Defense Mechanism” (1966), I tracked down a copy of his second novel. Occupying a similar space as “Defense Mechanism” (conceptual breakthrough in a decaying world city), King pushes the narrative Continue reading Book Review: Candy Man, Vincent King (1971)

Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLV (John Brunner, Marta Randall, Brian Herbert, Amanda Hemingway)

1. A complete unknown! As is frequently the case, I discovered it during a lengthy Internet Speculative Fiction Database browse a few weeks back. I’m not sure what to expect. Although the back cover is problematic –“In danger of losing her sanity, her virginity, and even her life”–is her sanity less important than her virginity? Who knows.

2. John Brunner short stories! He’s a favorite and I buy his collections on site.

A few John Brunner short fictions I’ve particularly enjoyed:

3. In my late teens I read every Dune novel I could get my hands on—including those written by Frank Herbert’s son Brian (I don’t remember being impressed). And yes, I’ve decided to read some of Brian Herbert’s non-Dune related SF.

4. I’ve enjoyed the two Marta Randall novels I’ve reviewed.

Might as well grab the last one I didn’t own? Right? It’s the sequel to Journey (1978).

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Disliked? Enjoyed?

1. Pzyche, Amanda Hemingway (aka Jan Siegel) (1982)

(Uncredited cover for the 1982 edition) Continue reading Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CCXLV (John Brunner, Marta Randall, Brian Herbert, Amanda Hemingway)