Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIV (Yarbro + Priest + Farmer + Malzberg)

Ann Arbor’s Dawn Treader Book Store contains the best used SF collection I have encountered in my perambulations (fortunately, I live far away or else I would empty my bank account).  Prepare for its manifold and manifest joys (multiple parts over the next month or so)!

What a haul!  I have yet to read a Chelsea Quinn Yarbro novel—this one is her most famous work so I look forward to it despite the creepy wolf/man with blood on the cover.  Also, Farmer has somewhat redeemed himself in my eyes with Strange Relations (1960)—thus, the metafictional account of a man who recreates the Burrough’s Tarzan tales sounds like an experimental New Wave SF novel right up my alley.

As does Christopher Priest’s Indoctrinaire (1970)…  I think I will read this one before I tackle Inverted World (1974) that I acquired a while back but never felt like reading.

And, I bought FOUR novels by one of my favorite authors, Barry N. Malzberg—the first is On a Planet Alien (1974).  Will read this one soon.

Thoughts?  Have you read any of the novels?

1. False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978) (MY REVIEW)

(Gary Friedman’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover: “It is the turn of the twenty-first century.  War, disease, and pollution have made the Earth nearly unfit for human habitation.  In America, food is scarce, and what food remains is quickly confiscated by the Pirates—a murderous band of raiders determined to save themselves and to destroy the last stronghold of civilized human beings—the mutant population.  One of these mutants, a woman named Thea, has eluded the Pirates for years.  Armed only with a crossbow, her pride, and her common sense, she has been slowly making her way Eastward to Gold Lake—a legendary place of safety and enlightenment.  Until one day she meets Evan Montague, a man who needs her help, a man who is also on the run from the Pirates, but for a different reason—he had led the Pirates himself and has now become the most bitter and most hunted enemy.  Together, Thea and Evan trek across a dangerous and wasted California, hoping to survive the brutality of twenty-first-century live… and perhaps, to find Eden before they die.”

2. Indoctrinaire, Christopher Priest (1970) (MY REVIEW)

(Richard Powers’ cover for the 1971 edition)

See above cover image for blurb!

3. On a Planet Alien, Barry N. Malzberg (1974)

(Charles Moll’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “FOLSOM’S PLANET—An Alien Land Yet So Familiar.  If the mission were a success, Folsom’s planet would bear his name for eternity.  The barbarians would be civilized; the planet would join the Federation; the Federation’s integrity would be preserved.  But Hans Folsom had to be on guard.  The aliens were intractable, his crew possibly traitorous.  There was an incident during the voyage he couldn’t quite remember.  And a prophetic runic stone…  Had ancient spacemen visited here in the past?  Did that explain the strange religions, the ancient ruins, the mysterious runic stone?”

4. Lord Tyger, Philip José Farmer (1970)

(Bob Pepper’s cover for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition:” MY MOTHER IS AN APE. MY FATHER IS GOD. I COME FROM THE LAND OF GHOSTS.  So sings Ras Tyger, Philip José Farmer’s superb incarnation of a modern-day Jungle Lord.  He is fluent in four languages.  He devours grubs, insects, and palpitating flesh.  He communes with wild beasts and proffers them his love.  Men he butchers.  He is feared as a ghost, yet the village women welcome him at night.  Savage, heroic and beautiful, he is master of this world—until the day when the incredible truth of his existence begins to unfold…”

36 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIV (Yarbro + Priest + Farmer + Malzberg)”

  1. I have never even heard of “Lord Tyger”. I did read Philip Jose Farmer’s “A Feast Unknown” which is basically Tarzan/Doc Savage slash fiction.

    I do remember reading “False Dawn”, many years ago. All I remember about it was that it depressed me.

    1. I’ve read the Ringworld series (awful), Strange Relations (pretty good), and Traitor to the Living (awful)… However, I’m really excited about tackling one of his metafictional pastiches.

      Most people seem to dislike the Yarbro story. But, I’m willing to give it a shot.

      1. I read A Feast Unknown recently and … it was different. And not for the faint-of-heart. But weirdly it left me wanting more, which is why I picked up Lord Tyger.

      2. I’d really like to know more about yarbro.I’ve looked on Wipipedia,but it doesn’t tell you much about her themes and outlook.

        I couldn’t read “Ringworld”.”Traitor to the Living”,I can’t remember about,but I know,as you say,it was awful.

        Have you read “The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod”? You’ll probably like that one.

    1. Hmm, despite the fact you received negative votes few reviewers seem to like the novel.

      I didn’t even catch the most obvious allusion on the back cover of On a Planet Alien — Folsom’s Planet (i.e. Folsom Prison Blues)

  2. Dawn Treader, one of the best bookstores in the nation! The only thing stopping me from going there more often is that it’s easier to get to either of the John King Books, which don’t quite have the same pricing but do have the stupendous selection.

    Lord Tyger is a more thoughtful (and meta) look at Tarzan and pulp adventure than his earlier Lord of the Trees/Mad Goblin pastiches. Still holding out on that one because, well, it’s Farmer. Indoctrinaire I bought for that Powers cover. I’ve heard it hasn’t stood up to Priest’s later works, but the closest I’ll probably get on that front is watching The Prestige again.

    1. The best used bookstore for some genres. It’s pretty atrocious for literature (unless you’re looking for old classics) but amazing for SF, poetry, etc.

      I can’t wait to read Indoctrinaire. Haven’t read any of his work yet. But yes, excited about Lord Tyger.

  3. Ah! I live just far enough from Ann Arbor — I’m in Lansing — that the Dawn Treader is only an occasional temptation. But it’s wonderful visiting every time I can.

    There’s also a mystery-only bookstore in Ann Arbor that I haven’t visited (I don’t read enough mystery), but they won an Edgar Award just last month for their service to that genre.

    1. I’d make the trip from Lansig too frequently if I lived there 😉 I was attending a conference in the state but decided to take an extra jaunt to the city solely for the bookstore…

  4. I’ve wanted to read ‘Indictrinaire’ as soon as I finished ‘Inverted World’. I’ve never seen a copy of it though, you’re lucky to find it with the Powers cover.

        1. Haha, happy I got the one I did… My edition of Lord Tyger was crap. Couldn’t post it!

          But then again, not sure a cover for a metafictional pastiche of Tarzan would be anything else.

  5. Funny, I’ve picked up all four within the past year (at Patten’s Books in St. Louis – not as good as Dawn Treader, but still *very* good), but all sit unread on my shelf.

    I read the short story version of False Dawn (in Thomas Scortia’s Strange Bedfellows, 1972) and liked the Mad Max style post-apocalyptic setting.

      1. It wasn’t the take on the setting so much as the feminist take on a Mad Max world. The female protagonist faces a moment of decision: accept rape & sexual exploitation in exchange for protection from men, or rely on her own strength & strike out on her own.

        I don’t recall that there were any of mutants in the short story, so maybe the novel is very different.

  6. Funny you should purchase the Priest novel now. I’m currently reading Indoctrinaire. I’m finding strong influences of Ballard, Dick, and the era it was written informing what is a very bizarre, surreal storyline. I’m about halfway through and very curious how it ends…

    1. Very excited about reading it. Looks like my cup of tea — the paranoia and the Ballard + Dick influences as you point out. I eventually want to read his Dream Archipelago sequence of novels/short stories.

  7. I’ve sworn off Farmer….or so I thought.I read so much of his stuff,something like 30 books,yet I never read this one.

    The best piece I thought he wrote was the Tarzan pastiche reworking,”The Jungle Rot Kid on the Nod”,an imagining of Bill,instead of Edgar,Burroughs writing Tarzan.Was available in “Riverworld and other Stories”.

    I wonder if this one was and still is worth reading then,unless it contains all the faults found in his other books.

    Having read anything by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.Like the cover though.Sounds good,whats’s it like?

  8. “Strange relations”? I was quite bowled over I think when first read it.Later I found it all a sickly,lugubrious mess.

    In his critical guide,”Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels”,David Pringle choses “The Unreasoning mask” for inclusion,where he says,”he has written no masterpieces,unless one counts a book which is on the fringes of sf,his glorious spoof biography,”Tarzan Alive”,1972″.That’s another one I decided not to read from all the few dozen I did.

    I don’t think “The Unreasoning Mask” was nearly good enough for inclusion among a 100 best sf novels,being another of his long,boring novels he was known for.

    Yarbro it seems has always dwelt in the shadows,as once did Philip K.Dick….shades of darkness!I’ll have to look her up on Wipipedia.

  9. Yes I suppose it contained some weird,innovative ideas,much like his “The Lovers”.I only read the novel version,I think the short,magazine version was probably better.

    I tell you this though,Farmer really belongs on the lower tiers among sf authors,he’s nowhere near the level of Dick,Ballard,LeGuin,Wolfe,Silverberg,Holdstock,ect.It has a lot to do with his writing style,overall structure and the speed at which he doesn’t have overall control of his stuff.

  10. The original novelette?If that’s the collection,they probably like some of the stories.If the series,I know what you mean.

    “To Your Scattered Bodies Go” would have been alright,if he could have wrapped it up in one.I stopped after the forth volume.

  11. I see the entry for Yarbro in the “Science Fiction Source Book” by David Wingrove,and like the one you posted in your link for the SFE,it remains vague about her talent.It seems she has little to offer science/speculative fiction…..I don’t know.

    I’d have a go at her though he I could be recommended a really good one.

  12. I read Christopher Priest’s Inverted World, many years ago – a great idea and well executed. Though I remember it being a bit too drawn out, and it certainly wasn’t a knock-out read, of the Ballard/Dick etc kind. Burt defo worth reading, and quite unusual, for SF. I still haven’t got around to reading his others, but I suspect some of those are better – Indoctrinaire sounds fab. I have this New English Library, 70’s version, with art by the brilliant Bruce Pennington: http://found0bjects.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/early-christopher-priest.html

  13. The only one of his I’ve read is “The Affirmation”.That’s not bad at all,influenced by Philip K.Dick,although that shows a little too overtly.

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