Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIX (Holland + Snyder + Malzberg 2x)

A grab bag of risk (Cecelia Holland + Guy Snyder) and great reward (Barry N. Malzberg)!  I would love to know what you think.  I know Holland’s Floating Worlds (1976) was picked up by the SF Masterwork series put out by Gollancz but I know next to nothing about the novel.

And, well, Malzberg is my favorite SF author (metafiction + experimentation + Freud + recursive elements) so I know what I’m getting with his stuff!


1. Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)

(Melvyn Grant’s cover for the 1978 edition)

From the back cover of an earlier edition: “Rapacious pirates from distant space… a beautiful Earth-born revel sent to negotiate peace… a strange godlike enemy with infinite power to heal or destroy.  FLOATING WORLDS.  Paula Mendoza, Earthish diplomat, is a woman to reckon with on several planets.  Lover of the Prima of the Styths and mother of his son, she has tremendous galactic powers—and many mighty foes: rival actions on Styth, the fascist Sunlight League of mars, the treacherous “Committee” members, and, most crucially, the mysterious Tanuojin who has healed her with his hands and has read her thoughts.  Alone, she accomplishes what no one else could, until final choices—for herself, for mankind—must be made…”

2. Galaxies, Barry N. Malzberg (1975)

(Uncredited cover for the 1975 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “‘Galaxies is a love/hate letter to all readers and writers of science fiction, a witty criticism of the genre and its aspirations.’—David Pringle in Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels.

Anguished by hyper-lucidity, a disembodied science fiction writer taps out the letters “LENA THOMAS” and instantly finds himself “warped” to the female astronaut’s domain of the 40t century.  Lena and the writer’s subconscious then develop a strange intimacy while they attempt to explore a mysterious “black galaxy.”  But theirs is a fleeting and rarified relationship, constantly bounded by greedy, homicidal bureaucrats committed to the expansion of bureaus and tormented by the idea of fragmentation.”

3.  Testament XXI, Guy Snyder (1973)

(Kelly Freas’ cover for the 1973 edition)

From the back cover: “REWRITE THE SACRET PAST—AND REVISE THE FATEFUL FUTURE.  When Astronaut Williamson returned after the longest flight ever made he found that the great civilization that had launched him was gone… destroyed in a chaos of its own creation.  But somewheres [sic] in what had once been Michigan the Republic welcomed him back.  The Republic that was a kingdom, the Republic that consisted of one underground city ruled by a weakling monarch and a power-hungry priesthood.

TESTAMENT XXI is the story of the time of showdown, one hundred years after Doomsday, when men still yearned to learn the meaning of their continued existence, and when all that humanity had been sacred for two thousand years had been perverted to a continued drive for mortal ambitions.  TESTAMENT XII is a novel not quite like any you have ever read in modern science fiction.”

4.  Universe Day, K. M. O’Donnell (i.e. Barry N. Malzberg) (1971) (MY REVIEW)

(Uncredited—but looks like Paul Lehr—cover for the 1971 edition)

From the back cover: “THE OUTER LIMIT.  When man’s ambition expanded to fill the solar system, his technology expanded to take him as far as he wanted to go.  Technology went on expanding.  So did man’s ambitions.  But there was a danger only dimly suspected, and only poorly comprehended when it began to make itself felt.  It was that man’s ambition would outleap his imagination; tat his technology would outstrip his emotional capacity.  It might be that it was just too big, the universe.  That there was just too much of nothing there for man to bear…”

17 thoughts on “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions No. CIX (Holland + Snyder + Malzberg 2x)

  1. I love the Freas cover on Testament XXI, a real sense of danger, adventure, mystery. Unfortunately it sounds like it might just be 200 pages of a guy bitching about the political party or religion he hates,

    The blurb from the Chicago Tribune for Floating Worlds is wrinkling my brow; do LeGuin and Clarke really do the same thing, achieve the same effect on the reader?

    I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about Galaxies, the first Malzberg I ever read.

  2. What an interesting assortment of titles! Where do you do your book shopping? A brick & mortar independent used bookstore, Half-Price Books, Paperbackswap.com, Amazon or somewhere else ?

    • A combination….

      Malzberg can be hard to find so I sometimes go out of my way to buy his titles on abebooks online etc. However, at least four of my recent Malzberg purchases came from an amazing bookstore in Ann Arbor Michigan (Dawn Treader Books) I visited recently durning my periodic travels.

      Sometimes I buy amazon lots from used sellers. Or, visit my local Half Price books—it all depends.

  3. I love the cover for the Guy Snyder novel, the rock behind the figures is like a piece of surrealist sculpture.

  4. There’s a highly negative review for Testament XXI at http://www.sfreviews.net/test21.html . I don’t know if you want to read it or not before you begin the book, though.

    I read _Floating Worlds_ a long while back, but I can’t remember much about it, except the protagonist getting scratched badly on the chest. I do recall that Holland is mostly known for historical fiction and not SF, though I thought she did a really good job of worldbuilding in the book (Her history background probably helped a lot).

    If you’re looking for a really good older book, I’d suggest _A Planet Called Treason_ by Orson Scott Card. It’s one of my favorites.

    • I must admit I am not fan of Card at all…. (but haven’t read that one)

      Yeah, I’ve read that SF Review before but I haven’t always been inline with his views in the past. So, I tend read things that might be on the more experimental side (which I think is what Snyder, whether successful or not, is going for).

      As for Floating Worlds, I’ll give it a shot. It’s on Ian Sales’ Mistressworks list and was picked up by Gollancz’s Masterwork list. Again, don’t always agree with those lists either so I’ll reserve judgment.

  5. If you’re looking for a really good older book, I’d suggest _A Planet Called Treason_ by Orson Scott Card. It’s one of my favorites.

    I remember enjoying it. But by calling it “an older book”, Stonewriter is making me feel positively geriatric. GET OFF MY LAWN.

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