Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVII (Anthology: Galactic Empires, vol 1 and 2 + Holdstock + Watson)

Snatched all but one of these up at a 1$ SF hardback clearance sale at my local bookstore.  The other, Watson’s The Jonah Kit (1976) came via The Dawn Treader Bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI.

I am not usually interested in Galactic Empires but the collection seems to have some intriguing short authors—for example, Lafferty, Davidson, Shaara, etc whose works I have no been that exposed to.  I look forward to slowly working my way through both volumes.

I also acquired my first Robert Holdstock novel, Where Time Winds Blow (1981).  Seems intriguing.

My schedule has finally calmed down a little so expect a slew of book reviews in the coming days/weeks…


1. Galactic Empires, Volume I, ed. Brian Aldiss (1976)


(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the inside flap: “Interstellar civilizations rise, flourish and fall in this unique collection of superb stories!  GALACTIC EMPIRES is more than an anthology: it is a vast two-volume novel of the future by some of the greatest science fiction writers alive, including Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Clifford Simak, Cordwainer Smith, A. E. Van Vogt, Harry Harrison, and many others.

Brian Aldiss has selected twenty-six stories and assembled them into a mammoth saga which explores many dimensions of the Galactic Empire: its origins, laws, mores, educational systems, not to mention its incredible variety of inhabitants, and their experiences with the natural quirks of the universe in which they, and we, all live.  Aldiss has created nothing less than the epic rise and fall of the Galactic Empire.

Some of the stories have been undeservedly neglected since their publication in obscure and now defunct sci-fi magazines; others are acknowledged classics.  All of them have been placed carefully so that they fit logically into the overall saga of man’s conquest of the galaxy, the wars of empire, and the final dissolution and destruction of humanity’s greatest endeavor.

The result is a vast panorama which begins with the first quivering of incipient Time and is confined only by the limits of the world’s most daring and creative imaginations.”

2. Galactic Empires, Volume II, ed. Brian Aldiss (1976)

(Karel Thole’s cover for the 1977 edition)

From the inside flap: Same as volume I above.

3. The Jonah Kit, Ian Watson (1975)

(David de Leuw’s cover for the 1976 edition)

From the inside flap of a later edition: “All over the world the whales were coming ashore, in a ritual mass suicide that no species of animal had ever matched.  In the laboratories of Tokyo, at the secret police headquarters of Moscow, besides the Big Dish at Arecibo that peered blindly into space for another voice, even among the motorcycle gangs and ordinary citizens of California the phenomenon brought an astonished question: Why?  And the answer—Because they have tasted men’s minds, and they are dying of it…”

4. Where the Winds Blow, Robert Holdstock (1981)

(Ron Walotsky’s cover for the 1982 edition)

From the inside flap: “Kris Dojaan is sure that the Time Phantom is Mark, his brother, lost on Kamelios a year before.  Though Mark was not precisely lost—stolen, on Kamelios, is a better word to describe the disappearance of the rifters, those works who comb the valleys for artifacts of past and future civilizations.

For Kamelios, with its atmosphere made breathable for unmodified humans only through the use of sealed, movable cities and respirators, poses another threat to its colonists: the time winds, which scramble chronology in both its geological and historical aspects.  Those who explore the ruins risk being swept off in the winds—vanishing forever.  Yet Kris feels that if he can enter one freely, he will survive—riding the wings like the Phantom—to find his time-lost brother.

But jaded by years of experience and the effects of the fiersigs—fields of energy which sweep randomly over the planet causing abrupt emotional changes—the other rifters feel differently.  Veterans Leo Faulcon and his lover, Lena Tanoway, are given charge of Kris, to protect him from his wild scheme, on orders from Commander Guilio Ensavlion, whose hope for solving Kamelios’ riddles lies in communicating with the time-traveling aliens which he alone has glimpsed.

Caught in his anticipation of a reunion with Mark, Kris begins to venture into the rift-valleys, without the protection of his r-suit, which is equipped with a warning siren and enables the wearer to outrun the wind.  One morning, Lena ad Leo find him wandering the valley with important news.  He has seen the Time Phantom close up, and through the figure is not Mark, the Phantom has told him he can take him to his bother.

And then the worst time win in Kamelios’ history begins to blow, taking Lena and Kris with it, leaving Leo behind to find them…somehow.”


32 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CVII (Anthology: Galactic Empires, vol 1 and 2 + Holdstock + Watson)

  1. Haven’t read that one by Holdstock…..have read his “Mythago Wood” though.If you haven’t,I’d hurry-up out and try to find one….you’ll be glad you did.Also read the sequel “Lavondyass”,which isn’t as good as the first,but might be worthwhile if you liked the first……you will!

    I’ve read two by Watson,of which “The Martian Inca” wasn’t very good I didn’t think,but “Alien Embassy” is worth reading.

    • Yeah, I actually bought it because of our previous discussion of Mythago Wood (which I’ll find eventually).

      I loved Watson’s collection The Very Slow Time Machine (1979) which I reviewed recently.

  2. Aldiss is a very good editor, so apart from the requisite ‘name’ authors he would have had to put in, you should find some nice, more obscure stories, in there. I’ve heard Holdstock is a genius, and his ‘fantasies’ are of the more literary, sophisticated and intelligent type – apparently Mythago Wood is a masterpiece. Nice finds! And those Galactic Empire hardbacks are quite expensive on Amazon etc, if I’m not mistaken. I may have to hop across the pond sometime and visit some of these wonderful second-hand bookshops! The ones in central London are getting more and more outpriced by higher rents and franchises like Starbucks etc. A very sad occurrence – but there are still two or three left which still sell old SF paperbacks, at reasonable prices – thankfully!

    • The hardbacks for Galactic Empire are a mere 1 cent (+ 3.99 shipping) on amazon in the US.

      I have to admit, Half Price Books (where I got these) is a used book store chain with a branch where I live. However, there are still a bunch of really nice local bookstores around.

    • Until recently when I actually read his fiction it was always a book I put back on the shelf at bookstores… I’ve seen copies at least three or four times in the last few years.

      • Luckily, there was a copy on eBay last night with the same blue cover you used in your post so I decided to grab it. You’re making my ‘to read’ pile bigger with these posts of yours Joachim!

          • There was a later Panther edition on eBay too which was a few quid cheaper but the hardback cover alone was worth the extra I paid. Don’t worry about your occasional fudges, it’s still great to see those covers.

  3. Reblogged this on Brainfluff and commented:
    Joachim regularly had some really intriguing books he shares – some classics, some hidden gems. These caught my eye, partly because of the amazing covers and partly because I had a chat with the great Brian Aldiss at Fantasycon a couple of years ago… Enjoy!

  4. Galactic empires is one of my favorite collections. Lots of twisty gems and a fun spin on monkeys randomly typing Shakespeare. I think you will enjoy dipping into it.

      • “Lavondyss” was my favourite out of his Mythago-Wood cycle (if only for the cameo appearance from Vaughn Williams). As the cycle progressed, I realised that he was going to carry on creating new loose ends, and never resolving the family dramas (closure is too much like happiness to belong in Holdstock’s aesthetic). Perhaps I should try some of the prequels. Otherwise, “Ancient Echos” is intensely good, with its visions of primordial cities bursting up to ground level like surfacing submarines.

  5. Why “Lavondyss”? I found it lengthy,and the narrative becomes as tedious as the journey deep into the wood.It bore no apparent relationship as I remember to “Mythago Wood”,which I thought was the superior masterpiece.

    Oh well,as I’ve said,we don’t all like the same books.

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