A nice haul from the local used book store and various internet sources…. After Effinger’s masterpiece What Entropy Means to Me (1972) I was desperate to get my hands on another one of his novels (or short story collections — Relatives is not supposed to be as good but, perhaps it will prove the critics (well, namely John Clute) wrong.
Miriam Allen deFord was a prolific 50s short story writer. Xenogenesis (1969) is the only published collection solely of her stories — thankfully it’s graced with a wonderful Richard Powers cover.
Despite the hideous cover, Michael Bishop’s first novel A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire (1975) is generally considered quite good. I’ve already read and reviewed Dan Morgan’s average but inventive SF thriller Inside (1971) but included it in this post anyway because I had yet to reach my four new acquisitions for a post.
Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?
1. Relatives, George Alec Effinger (1973)
(Uncredited cover for the 1976 edition)
From the inside flap of the first edition: “Ernest Weinraub, Ernst Weinraub, Ernst Weintraub — three slightly different versions of the same name, the same man. Each incarnation of Weintraub/Winraub inhabits a slightly different versions of our world: Ernest Weinraub lives in a maddening overcrowded New York, in a world ruled by six despotic men; Ernst Weinraub lives in a decadent world in which America has never been colonized, Europe and Asia are crumbling, and Africa has only one populated city; Ernst Weintraub lives in a world in which the Allies lost the First World War.
The single factor unifying these three startling different worlds is Weinraub/Weintraub. But even he is molded and distorted, it would appear, by the various environments and societies, and his problems seem entirely different in each of the three worlds. Yet, as the book progresses, both he and the reader learn that neither time nor place matters — every person must sooner or later make certain basic decisions.
Relatives is a novel about personalty, and about duty, chiefly one’s duty to the state. The Weinraub/Weintraub variations are carefully orchestrated so that each tells the same story while presenting vastly varying reasons for a single outcome. Once having experienced these three powerful visions of an individual’s interaction with society, one is compelled to consider, and reconsider, the foundations of moral and social responsibility.”
2. Xenogenesis, Miriam Allen deFord (1969) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1969 edition)
From the inside flap: “If anyone had taken the trouble to count the known methods of reproduction that exist on the Earth today, the figure would surely go into at least sever hundreds. Survival has to be highly adaptive processor benign old Mother Earth kills off the species. What then of other planets, other stars? What unimaginable strains, stresses, conditions will produce how many thousand different ways of perpetuating a race? Miriam Allen deFord here considers a few possibilities — funny, tragic, tender — in every range of human emotion and several unhuman [sic] ones, on Earth and off it. And always with the vivid sense of joy in living which she brings to all her writing.”
3. Inside, Dan Morgan (1971) (MY REVIEW)
(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1974 edition)
From the back cover: “The Strangest Asylum in the Galaxy. Inside: The Domed City of Mars, a lush, subtropical enclave, controlled by the coldblooded Moule, driven in a fantastical experiment whose implications reach far beyond he comprehension of those who would destroy it. Inside: The powerful Clyne, recruited to destroy Moule’s control and disrupt the balance of terror. His love for the beautiful aura at once impels and threatens the heroic task. Inside: A science fiction adventure filled with hoax and doublecross, blind alleys and sudden, unforeseen acts illuminating a fierce struggle for Earth’s survival.”
4. A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop (1975) (MY REVIEW)
(Gene Szafran’s hideous cover for the 1975 edition)
From the back cover: “THE BEST-LAID PLANS…. of SPACEMEN! It seemed like a good idea; even a novel experiment. But the outcome was sheer hell. When the Balduin brothers escaped from the tedium of the human hive in Atlanta, Georgia, they had a mission. They were to voyage to the planet Trope. Contact a tribe there known as the Ouemartsee. And transport it to a Glaparca for a useful purpose. But suddenly the Balduin brothers discovered that they were in the slave trade, and that the Ouemartsee had made one of them a god…”