Unlike other acquisition posts where I post the most palatable finds from the shelves of a local used book store, this one contains books that I have wanted to own for a long time and finally gave in and bought online — more Kit Reed (after her wonderful collection 1967 Mister Da V. which I recently reviewed), a novel by one of the great (and underread and probably underrated) SF satirists — John T. Sladek — of the 60s/70s, Piers Anthony’s early New Wave experimental work, and Vondra N. McIntrye’s first novel.
A quick non-scientific poll of my fellow reviewers on twitter (if you are so inclined, follow me!) showed that few had read Sladek’s work recently… Is it time for a mini-Renaissance of his works?
Some fun covers, great authors — these will be read soon…. Unlike the other 300+ works in my too read pile.
1. The Reproductive System (variant title: Mechasm), John T. Sladek (1968)
(Leo and Diane Dillon’s cover for the 1969 edition)
From the inside flap: “This inventive and delightful science fiction adventure is the story of the Reproductive System, a new kind a machine that can feed on any metal and drink at power outlets in order to grow and reproduce itself. But the System quickly gets out of control, and almost before its creators realize what’s happening the gray boxlike machines are well on their way to conquering and absorbing the entire state of Utah, then the United States, and… tomorrow the world? Filled with memorable comic characters and featuring a plot that barrels along with the speed of a Marx Brothers movie, Mechasm is both nightmarish and riotously funny. Either way, it’s a book to remember.”
2. Armed Camps, Kit Reed (1969) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1971 edition)
From the back cover: “A nightmare glimpse of the future — as seen trough the eyes of two people reacting in wildly opposite ways to the violence in and around them. Anne retreats in an agony of fear to an experimental pacifist commune, Cambria. Danny is a military specialist in flame-throwers who resolves his crisis of conscience in an orgy of destruction — and, as an example, is perpetually chained on display in a military stockade.”
3. Chthon, Piers Anthony (1967)
(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition)
From the back cover: “The Lowers Depths. Aton’s crime was a dreadful one. He had loved a Minionette. All the worlds of mankind despised and feared this almost mythical siren. But no creature anywhere could tell ton why. In the brutally hot garnet mines of Chthon to which he had been condemned, Aton sought an answer. And when he could not find it he determined to seek it elsewhere. He had to escape. And no man had ever escaped Chthon and lived. But the mystery of the Minionette had to be solved. Aton had to have his answer…
Complex, mysterious, mixing startling imager with brutal realism, CTHON is a devastatingly original and brilliant science fiction novel of the new generation of SF authors.”
4. The Exile Waiting, Vondra N. McIntyre (1975)
(Larry Kresek’s cover for the 1976 edition)
From the inside flap of the first edition: “Centuries had passed since the Final War devastated Earth and turned its surface into an intolerable radioactive desert. To survive at all, the only place to live was Center — a huge city built of rock and steel in a vast underground cavern. One of Center’s most rebellious inhabitants was the mutant inhabitants was the mutant girl Mischa, who had chose a life of crime in order to survive. She spent her days foraging in the city’s forgotten areas, watching the ships that came from the stars. Mischa’s one desire was that someday she’d be able to journey outward on one of those beautiful silver vessels and leave her living hell behind. But for now she must keep her forbidden secret from the world. If the city’s rulers ever discovered she was different, she’d be banished at once. Mischa recalled with horror what had happened to the others — those whose physical deformities had become too obvious. They had been beaten and riven from Center into deep underground tunnels, dark regions both feared and avoided by the city people. Luckily for Mischa her mutation was not visible — she possessed a rare form of telepathy that enabled her to sense the feelings and emotions of the individuals around her. Unexpectedly, her talent was put to use with the arrival of a starship captained by a pair of pseudosibs… two laboratory-created twins scientifically linked together by corresponding brain waves. But their psychic connection as fading rapidly, and Mischa realized she might convince one to help her escape. But which twin? A wrong move now could leave her wide open for capture, punishment, even banishment [….]” (I have no clue why the hardback first editions include the entire plot…. I’ll stop here).