Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XLIV (Anderson + Brunner + Bova + Budrys)

My Austin, TX haul….

Two classics I’ve yet to read: Budrys’ Who? (1958) and Poul Anderson’s Tau Zero (1970)…  The second in a trilogy by John Brunner, The Avengers of Carrig (1969) — the first, Polymath (first published in 1963 but expanded in 1974) was a readable Brunner pulp.

I’ve never enjoyed Bova’s novels, but I impulsively picked up As on a Darkling Plain (1972), perhaps influenced by the Ellis’ cover.

1. Who?, Algis Budrys (1958)

(Robert V. Engel’s cover for the 1958 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “Who was he?… this man with a metal head and servo-mechanisms for jaws, eyes, ears…?  A Soviet plant?  Martino — all that was left of him — brainwashed?  Or simply Lucas Martino himself, the top of allied scientists, reconstructed by Russian doctors from the unrecognizable dying fragments that had fallen into their hands when K-Eighty-eight went through the roof?  Had they got the secret of K-Eighty-eight, so oddly sited right on the Soviet bordeR?  Who was fooling whom?  From the frantic efforts of Shawn Rogers, allied security chief, to prise the truth — the true truth — from a man in an iron mask […]”

2. Tau Zero, Poul Anderson (1970)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1976 edition)

From the inside flap: “Tau Zero: Humanity was mastered the technology for an interstellar colonizing flight!  The starship Leonora Christine is the ultimate expression of man’s quest for immortality.  The crew and passengers in this great endeavor, each with his own specialized knowledge vital to the mission, represent the human race’s outward urge.  Disaster strikes, the ship is nearly destroyed, and Captain Telander and his voyagers are locked in an incredibly struggle for survival at a speed near that of light, spiraling into the galaxy.”

3. As on a Darkling Plain, Ben Bova (Magazine 1969, book publication 1972) (MY REVIEW)

(Dean Ellis’ cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “The Maddening Machines.  The alien machines stood on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.  Housed in huge buildings that made the space explorers from earth look like insects, the machines continued to function as they had since beyond recorded time.  Yet what their purpose was, and who built them, was a maddening, terrifying mystery.  Dr. Sydney Lee was convinced that these machines had been designed to destroy man, and unless the power that drove them and the beings who controlled them were discovered, they would succeed.  But there was just one way to prove his theory.  Dr. Lee and his chosen crew were frozen, and placed in a spaceship to a distant star.  When they returned to life, fifty years had passed.  They were no older, but the time they had to find and destroy their enemy was perilously short…”

4. The Avengers of Carrig (expanded version and variant title of The Secret Agent of Terra, 1962), John Brunner (1969)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1969 edition)

Back cover from a later edition: “Once the city of Carrig stood supreme on this planet that had been settled by space refugees in the distant, forgotten past.  From every corner of this primitive lost world canvas came to trade — and to view the great King-Hunt, the gruesome by which the people of Carrig chose their rulers.  Then the space came new arrivals.  And with them came their invincible death guns and their ruthless, all-powerful tyranny.  Now there would be no King-Hunt in Carrig, or hope for the planet — unless a fool-hardy high-born named Saikmar, and a beautiful Earthling space-spy named Maddalena, could do the impossible…”

6 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XLIV (Anderson + Brunner + Bova + Budrys)

  1. Here are four authors whom I have repeatedly been disappointed by. I have liked some Anderson stories and novels, but been bored by just as many, and the other three writers I have found to be either weak and forgettable (Brunner and Bova) or surprisingly bad (Budrys.) But maybe I have not been exposed to their best work. I read Tau Zero when I was a kid and recall nothing about it, the other three pictured works I have not read; maybe I would love them if I read them, but I will likely never know.

    • I’ve only read one Bova book so I can’t really judge him as an author.

      Brunner is a genius (I’ve read 20 or so of his novels) — but only when he’s more serious and not writing pulp. His masterpieces: Stand on Zanzibar (my all time favorite sci-fi novel), Shockwave Rider, The Sheep Look Up, The Jagged Orbit, and perhaps a few of his pulp works are pretty good, for example Meeting at Infinity was smart and fun….

      Anderson — hmm, I’ve read at least 10 or so of his novels. Very forgettable, but, sort of fun. The People of the Wind (1973) was the best of his I’ve read so far, which perhaps isn’t saying much…(I think I rated it too high in that review — I’d give it a 4 now)

      As for Burdrys — The Falling Torch (1959) was complete crud — hoping Who? is better….

      • I read Brunner’s Maze of Stars and it was abysmal. It is probably unfair of me to judge him primarily on that, one of his last works. Stand on Zanzibar has a great reputation, but it sounds like the kind of overpopulation/anti-capitalism polemic I would hate.

        Maybe I should try one of Brunner’s pulpy works. The cover of Avengers of Carrig is the kind of thing that would attract me if his name wasn’t on there.

        Budrys’s Rogue Moon has a high reputation and a genius central premise, but most of the novel felt like grade Z soap opera filler. I have a feeling the shorter magazine version was much better.

        As for Anderson, I usually like his plots and his point of view, but I find his writing style to be poor, and some of his later works are very slow and boring and very forgettable.

      • Well, Maze of Stars is one of his worst and one of his last books in his long career. I’m not sure I’d base my opinion on him from that one novel….

        Oh, I love overpopulation works… It’s much more experimental than a normal polemic from that era — it’s modeled on Dos Passos’ famous America Trilogy…. contains tons of advertising jingles, newspaper clips, songs, etc. A stunning piece of world building — depicting a world which is unable to maintain cultural groups (the main character is black and is named Norman!) and is moving towards homogeneity. Much more complex than a simple “anti-capitalist” polemic….

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