Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCV (Ballard + Butler + Brunner + Schmidt)

I must confess, I’ve never read an Octavia Butler novel…  I now own one and will read it soon.  More Ballard!  More Brunner (a review of his 1969 masterpiece The Jagged Orbit is coming soon)! And a complete mystery, I mean, who besides Tarbandu over at The PorPor Books Blog has read Newton and the Quasi-Apple (1975) by Stanley Schmidt?


1. The Voices of Time, J. G. Ballard (1962) (MY REVIEW)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1962 edition)

From the back cover of the 1968 edition (with another Powers cover): “In THE VOICES OF TIME you will enter the strange new wolds of J. G. Ballard.  Here are all the real sounds and scents of a vividly new future—a future of beauty and decay with a thread of bright danger in it.  The magical twilight worlds of his stories include such strange items as: the man who carved an incomprehensible design in the bottom of a swimming pool…  The men who swept clean the sounds of the past…  The last fish in the last pool of water on the dying earth…”

2. Kindred, Octavia Butler (1979)

(Laurence Schwinger’s cover for the 1996 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.  Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him.  After this first summons, Dana is drawn back again and again to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor.  Yet each time the stays grow longer and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has even begun.”

3. Newton and the Quasi-Apple, Stanley Schmidt (1975)

(Carlos Ochagavia’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the back cover: “One man could see what was happening.  His name was Terek.  In the primitive civilization of Yngmor, he alone fully recognized the danger from the rising power of the barbarian hordes.  He alone had conceived of a way to stop them.  And for this he was branded a heretic by the all-powerful priest-king, his ideas mocked, his life placed in deadly jeopardy.  But Terek saw another danger as well.  The danger that came from the skies.  Danger in the form of the alien creatures with seemingly magical powers… the godlike beings who offered salvation while planting the seeds of the most terrible of subjugations… …the invading intruders called humans…”

4. The Long Result, John Brunner (1965)

(Hoot von Zitzewitz’s cover for the 1966 edition)

From the inside flap: “In an age of settled achievement, when the weather is controlled and men have long since colonized planets under many other suns, Roald Vincent was content to putter along in his job in the Bureau of Cultural Relations.  But with the shocking thunder of a starship braking at the edge of the atmosphere, violence erupted into his placid existence and finished it forever.  Hurled into a vortex of subterranean plots and boiling hatreds, Vincent, to his surprise, found himself reacting strongly and violently—as violently as the men whose extremism attacked the very principles of his previous Bureau, and therefore his reason for being alive…”

17 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. XCV (Ballard + Butler + Brunner + Schmidt)

  1. I always enjoy looking at old science fiction covers. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time to read the stories, but your blogging at least gives me a summary of what they’re about. Thank you for that!

  2. I remember reading Newton and the Quasi-Apple back in 1975. I don’t know if I still have it but if I do, I would like to read it again.

  3. Never read Octavia Butler? You’re in for a treat!

    I have not yet read Kindred – I lost the copy I bought pretty much immediately, and I’m cheap and holding out for a few months in case it turns up – but her Parable of the Sower is hands-down my favorite science fiction novel of all time.

    • I don’t know why I haven’t read her books before. I did find her novel Patternmaster (1976) in a used book store today…. But it had THIS COVER, I mean, would you buy it?!?

      …perhaps I should go back and grab it before someone else does.

      • Oh, FFS. That is one of the worst book covers I’ve ever seen.

        But yeah, it’d be a good idea to go buy it anyway. I’m not a huge fan of the Pattern series, because I do literary sci-fi and hers came later in her writing career, but it’s still quality stuff.

        • I like 40s-70s SF. And, I would argue, there is tons of “literary” SF in the late 60s/early 70s. The major turn towards literary SF happens then… But yes, I know she did it later in her career.

      • Oh, of course there’s a veritable buttload of literary SF/F from the 40’s to the 70’s (as well as pretty much every decade going back to the early 19th century at the very least for science fiction, and much further back for fantasy).

        But, yeah, Butler’s later works are far more literary than her early ones. Her early ones, though, are still very good reads.

  4. Hey, this time I own one of those — Kindred. Haven’t read it yet, but it’s supposed to be even better than the Butler novels I have read (Wild Seed and parts of the Patternmaster series), and if that’s true you have a real winner right there.

  5. I’ve loved all of the Octavia Butler books I’ve read; the trilogy with Dawn, Imago an Adulthood Rites was wonderful and so chilling. I haven’t read Kindred, though. My favorite book of hers, though, might be her collection Bloodchild and Other Stories. “Bloodchild” alone is worth the price of admission.

    I started reading Butler having already read a lot of books by authors like Heinlein and Asimov. Octavia Butler and James Tiptree Jr. had such a different take on the world, so refreshing after all the tech-worship and can-do/pull yourself up by your bootstraps stuff.

  6. Can’t wait to see your review on The Jagged Orbit, particularly how it compares to Brunner’s oeuvre, his other dystopian work (e.g. Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up), and sci-fi of the era.

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