Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LVIII (Tiptree, Jr. + Shaw + Bamber + Rossiter)

An eclectic grab bag of books…  The last remaining gifts from 2thD… And a few from bookstores I’ve visited over the past few months.  Two are complete mysteries — Bamber’s The Sea is Boiling Hot (1971) and Rossiter’s Tetrasomy Two (1974) — both author’s only published sci-fi novel.  I don’t have high hopes — although, the premise of the former is fantastic — domed cities and over pollution!

My second collection of Tiptree shorts — was impressed with a handful of stories in her most famous collection Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home (1973).  I find her work hit or miss…  Unfortunately, there are some books that I can never convince myself to review.  Although published in the 80s, Byte Beautiful (1985) contains mostly 70s stories so it is firmly within my era….

And Shaw, well, Shaw is Shaw — utterly average but always (at least so far) suprisingly satisfying…

1. The Sea is Boiling Hot, George Bamber (1971) (MY REVIEW)

(Jack Gaughan’s cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “In the world of Heron Attee’s time, scientific wastes had so fouled the atmosphere that men were forced to erect giant bubbles over their cities so that the air inside could be continually purified and made breathable.  Outside the city domes, humans would strangle and died from breathing the air.  Even the oceans of Earth were so befouled by thermal pollution from atomic plants that life within the great waters had long since died off.  And the people of the domed cities lived a fantastic, hedonistic life dedicated to sex, violent games, and programmed hallucinations.  Desperation hovered over all mankind: extinction was coming ever closer.  But one man, the brilliant scientist Heron Attee, discovered a means of reversing the process of Earthdeath…  it it wasn’t too late…”

2. Tetrasomy Two, Oscar Rossiter (1974)

(Walter Rane’s cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover: “Hercules Thirty-four!”  Dr. Boyd did not know what to make of that brief message from Ernest Peckham, the fifty-five-year-old human vegetable under his care.  He was sure that it meant something.  Just as he was sure that this “hopelessly insane  man was connected with the startling changes that were going on.  But Ernest Peckham could not shed any light on Boyd’s confusion.  His mind was elsewhere.”

3. Vertigo (variant title: Terminal Velocity), Bob Shaw (1978)

(Bob Norrington’s cover for the 1980 edition)

From the back cover of a different edition: “Rob Hasson was an Air Patrolman, one of the best, until the day someone jumped him in mid-air and sent him hurtling into a fall that should have killed him.  Now his mind, still tormented by memories of the shrieking ari and rushing ground, protects his patched-together body by refusing to let him fly again.  But what use to anyone is an Air Patrolman who’s afraid to fly?  Rob Hasson thinks he’s a coward.  No one could have foreseen that chain of events that would prove him wrong.”

4. Byte Beautiful: 8 Science Fiction Stories, James Tiptree, Jr. (1985)

(Laurie Dolphin’s cover for the 1985 edition)

From the inside flap: “Jame Tiptree, Jr., author of Up the Walls of the World, has been acclaimed as one of the most innovative and influential figures in science fiction writing today.  Winner of two Hugo Awards, two Nebulas, and a Jupiter Award, Tiptree has consistently intrigued SF enthusiasts with thrilling explorations into fabulous new worlds of the imagination.  No Byte Beautiful continues that tradition with eight delightful, wonder-filled stories — several appearing for the first time in book form.  Here is ‘Excursion Fare,’ a tale of two downed balloonists facing death at sea and of their miraculous rescue, which leads to a startling discover… ‘Beam Us Home,’ a poignant story of a young jet pilot, fighting a war he doesn’t understand and seeking refuge in his dreams of ‘Star Trek.;…. ‘I’ll be Waiting for You When the Swimming Pool is Empty,’ a darkly satirical look at a futuristic ambassador and his cosmically wrong-headed meddling in interplanetary affairs… plus five moer stories of immense vision and beauty, irony and adventure […]”

11 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. LVIII (Tiptree, Jr. + Shaw + Bamber + Rossiter)”

  1. A gamble, to be sure, but you could find gold in them thar books. Just don’t hold your breath.

    As an author I have to say that even for the period the covers of each and every one of those books would have me reaching for the artist responsible and a big jar of grievous bodily harm.

  2. Joachim, `Consistantly mediocre` would apply to the covers of Jack Gaughan, for me, except I`ve seen a couple of his pieces done without specific books in mind and they were so much richer than his simplistic jacket art that he`s in my Maybe I`m Just Not GETTING It category for now. I like the Rossiter cover, very 70`s, and I`ve had good luck with the Fred Pohl Selections line. I like Tiptree–hard to say `love`–and most everything she wrote could be described as `so-and-so faces death…`The bio of her was a decent read but made me wish I got more out of her work–an odd thing to say about a writer I`ve been reading for 30 years. At her best she`s up to the level of Sturgeon at HIS best.

    1. I agree. I seldom see one which blows me away….

      Hmm Tiptree… I adored the strange commentary on colonialism and sexuality — And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side… Unfortunately it was the first in the collection and none of the others really lived up to it.

  3. I like that one…….Tiptree has several `eras` and I need to get my head straight for each–her last stories, for example, are so relentlessly death-fixated I had to spread them out. Now we understand why. Yet I find her best worth the labor. Sex and death were her focus, and she just seemed to be working at a higher level than most sf writers.Stories like `Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death` and `Houston, Houston, Do You Read?` probably were admired by Malzberg [who recently wrote an intro to one volume of Sturgeon`s collected stories].

  4. “Byte Beautiful” isn’t her strongest collection, but it was the first Tiptree I ever read. It was pretty impressive to me at the time. I really had no idea writers had done/were doing such interesting things in science fiction, and it was really eye-opening. Even her weaker stories tend to be ferociously interesting, if not always enjoyable.

  5. “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death” is absolutely burned onto my brain. (In a good way!) Every time I read it, I somehow expect it will end differently. I also quite like “The Women Men Don’t See” and “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side.” She writes otherness and reaction to otherness so well.

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